G20 security prepared for any threat, at any cost
A police officer with a riot helmet on his hip watches as a police motorcyclist drives past in Toronto on Tuesday as final preparations are made to host the G20 summit later this week. CHRIS YOUNG/THE CANADIAN PRESS
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. Article Video Comments (138) Colin Freeze
From Wednesday’s Globe and Mail
Published on Wednesday, Jun. 23, 2010 2:52AM EDT
Last updated on Wednesday, Jun. 23, 2010 2:40PM EDT
.The moment Prime Minister Stephen Harper decided Canada would host this week’s G20 meeting, Toronto was fated to become a fortified city.
Police and military leaders decided that Muskoka, host of the G8 summit, could not also accommodate the G20 to follow. So they were forced to accept that dozens of world leaders would be crammed into the densest corners of Canada’s largest city – and that, to protect them, authorities would need to install three-metre-high fences and summon thousands of police, leaving residents bemused and bothered.
This is the new reality of hosting global summits in an urban setting, when the only thing officials agree on is that they can’t spend too much to safeguard against the nightmare of playing host to an international incident.
“It’s damned if you do, damned if you don’t,” said former top Mountie Norman Inkster, arguing today’s realities bear no resemblance to the last time Toronto hosted such a summit – when he was commissioner in 1988. “This is an entirely different scene now.”
The ranks of world leaders and entourages attending such summits are swelling to the point that smaller communities cannot accommodate them. And the decision to host not just the G8 but the G20, with its attendant entourage, is about more than the mere addition of numbers – it’s about adding group of countries with diverse political baggage, which in turn multiplies the flanks authorities have to protect in one of the world’s most multicultural cities