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.

Protesters take to streets of Toronto

Protesters converged in the thousands on the streets of downtown Toronto on Friday to press demands that the Group of 20 industrialized and important emerging economies take more heed to the poor as they seek solutions to the global economic crisis.

Starting at Allan Gardens, one of Toronto’s oldest gathering spots and just a few kilometers from where the G20 will be held this weekend, protesters led by gender rights activists wound through the streets, dancing and chanting anti-capitalist slogans from noon to dusk.

Under a hot blazing sun, adults, youth and children, on foot, on bicycles and in wheelchairs, marched under banners shouting out for justice for the poor, for migrants, for the indigenous and to pay attention to global warming.

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.

Prospects for the G20 summit

John Kirton is Director, G8 Research Group, Co-director, G20 Research Group, any views expressed are his own.

The G20 Summit, taking place in Toronto this weekend, is an unusually significant event. Coming at the tail end of the global financial crisis, which exposed the failure of existing multilateral organizations to respond adequately, it will also be the first Summit to test out its role as the forum for international economic cooperation, a mission outlined at the Pittsburgh Summit last September.

This is probably also the only time in world history where we’ll ever have a G8 summit and a second separate G20 summit taking place so close in time and space. The G8 leaders will focus on development, and above all, on maternal, newborn, and children’s health. The G20 leaders, on the other hand, have the less glamorous and more technical role of creating the economic conditions that would allow for such development assistance.

So much for all this summitry

Toronto G20The following is a guest post by Marc Levinson, a senior fellow for international business at the Council on Foreign Relations. The opinions expressed are his own.

The world’s leaders are stuck on a summitry treadmill. Nothing better could come from this week’s summit meetings in Canada than a way for them to get off.

Consider President Obama’s schedule for the months ahead. On June 25, he heads to the summit meeting of the G8 leaders in bucolic Huntsville, Ontario. A couple of days later, those eight presidents and prime ministers, together with their retinues of finance ministers and central bankers, will join 12 of their counterparts at the G20 summit in Toronto.

Canada dresses up for bears

For all the designer drinks and gourmet foods – from raw oysters to sushi, and the sea of men in expensive suits and bejeweled women in elegant gowns, the setting seemed fit only for celebration.

But dressed as they were to the nines, investors attending “A Night with the Bears” at Toronto’s upscale Elgin Theatre, were eager to hear the worst, on the edges of plush seats amid predictions of market doom from some of the continent’s savviest
financial minds.

“I only wish we’d sold tickets,” said a smiling Eric Sprott, arguably Canada’s best known hedge fund manager and chairman at Sprott Asset Management Inc, as he looked out at the 1,500 or so crowd.