Protesters and police clash in Toronto

Hundreds of Canadian riot police, on foot, on horseback, and armed with round shields, rectangular shields and batons, brought an end to what some local bloggers are already calling the Mighty Stand at Queens Park after several hours on Saturday, pushing protesters that had dogged them for much of the day and throughout the city to a rout.

Police made surgical strikes on the crowd of protesters as they pushed them back from Queens Park, through the University of Toronto campus and up to the border of Bloor and St. George, where trendy bars entertain the city’s up and coming. It wasn’t clear how many were arrested at the protest.
Protesters reacted mostly peacefully, breaking into a run as horsemen pushed them up city streets.
The move was a change in tactics for police, who had earlier in the day retreated from large pockets of protesters, preferring to fall back and protect the fencing surrounding the G20 summit.

Instead, police aggressively burst into the group, pulling out at least one journalist, and sparking near-panic among the sea of people that ran before them.
It was the grand finale to a day that saw surprising violence on Toronto’s normally tranquil streets, as several police cars were burned, and store windows were smashed, mostly at the hands of a small group of black-clad protesters who separated from the main G20 demonstration.
Police Chief Bill Blair put his own emphasis on the day, calling it some of the worst mob violence Toronto has ever seen.

How to spend $1 billion on G20 security

The question as to how Canada could possibly spend C$1 billion ($960 million) protecting world leaders for just three days becomes progressively easier to answer the longer you spend in southern Ontario, the central province where the Group of Eight and then the Group of 20 are meeting this weekend.

G20 leaders will gather on Saturday and Sunday in central Toronto and a large area around the city center venue has been sealed off with high-tech fencing designed to deter even the most ardent climbers. The government, on the defensive about the security bill after critics accused Ottawa of wasting money, isn’t giving a detailed breakdown of security costs. Ministers do admit that policing alone will cost C$450 million, most of which will go on overtime.

That isn’t surprising when you work out how money will be needed to pay the 10,000 police who could be called up. My taxi driver was fuming when he picked me up at the airport and his mood didn’t improve as we crawled past large groups of police not doing very much. “Look at that horse. He probably earns more than I do,” he fumed.

Protesters converge to press anti-poverty message

Police threaded through a growing throng of demonstrators gathering in a downtown Toronto Park on Friday to demand G20 countries do more to fight global poverty and protect woman’s gender rights.

As the number of protesters grew under Canada’s trademark leafy maple trees, pro bono lawyers announced their phone numbers and told protesters to write them down on their hands or arms.

“If you get arrested, call us before you talk to police,” they told the crowd as nervous young women scribbled on their forearms.

Duelling protests hit Huntsville as G8 kicks off

G8 host Huntsville has been a picture of quiet in the run-up to the summit, which kicked off on Friday. Reporters that have come up to cover potential protests have had little luck so far uncovering anything beyond bemused residents and hundreds of bored cops.

So there was more than a little excitement Friday when not one, but two protests sprang up in the summer resort town’s center. A media stunt by Oxfam involving the group’s famous paper mache “heads” of world leaders drew a throng of reporters and camera crews to a waterfront park in the resort town’s center.

Oxfam activists pose as G8 leaders during a photo opportunity ahead of the G8/G20 summits in Huntsville, Ontario June 24, 2010. Oxfam urged the leaders to deliver their promises made in past G8 meetings. Canada hosts the 2010 G8/G20 summits from June 25 to 26 in Huntsville. (L-R) U.S. President Barack Obama, Canada's PM Stephen Harper and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
Volunteers sporting the oversized heads and decked out like tourists (T-shirts, shorts, and sandals with white socks) pored over roadmaps apparently trying to find the right way forward on committing funds to eradicate poverty in the developing world.

Deficit-obsessed Czechs grapple ahead of vote

If one were to believe the noise coming from right-of-centre politicians in Prague, the Czechs are on the brink of a Greece-style budget meltdown, and victory by the leftist Social Democrats in a May 28-29 election would plunge them into economic collapse.

ODS Greece1An ad in newspapers this week from the right-wing Civic Democrats (ODS) showed masked Greek rioters in front of a burning barricade. “Socialists in Greece – the same as in the Czech Republic”, the headline read. Alongside, a picture of Jiri Paroubek, leader of the Social Democrats (CSSD) bore the caption “CSSD = State Bankruptcy”.

The ad angered the Greek embassy, which summoned ODS’s campaign manager to complain. It also puzzled many analysts as to why a country with relatively sound economic fundamentals could be worried about national bankruptcy in the short term.