Saturday June 26th, as dignitaries were arriving in Toronto Canada for the G8/G20, the streets of the downtown core were erupting in a violent protest. At first it was a fairly passive display, with women’s groups protesting Prime Minister Harper’s failure to include abortion in his presentation about women’s health, as well as various labour groups protesting for workers rights; however, embedded in the crowd was an alleged group of anarchists intent on destruction. They quickly separated from the so-called official protesters and began to break windows and turn over police cars in the downtown corridor.
Toronto is one of the largest cities in Canada and is therefore not immune from protests; what makes this event stand out is the level of violence. In Canada, cars turned over in the street and public violence are a sign of a Stanley Cup loss, not a part of social commentary. Prior to the summit, Harper came under fire for refusing to include abortion in his maternal health initiative in his flagship policy proposal at the G8/G20, as well as the money spent on hosting this international event. Proving that arrogance was very much a part of his personality, Nicolas Sarkozy, the president of France declared, “With regard [to] the French G8/G20, even if I can’t confirm the figures that you are talking about in Canada, I can say that in France they will be 10 times less.”
As Gord Martineau blithely asked if this violence means that Toronto no longer deserves the nickname “Toronto the Good,” store windows of multinational corporations were being smashed with anything that protesters could find. In a special show of love for Dov Chaney and American Apparel, excrement was thrown into a broken store window. Toronto police Chief Bill Blair tried to comfort those who were upset with the violence, stating:
“We have seen windows broken and police cars burned. It is very regrettable that such vandalism and violence could not be prevented. I want to assure you that the persons responsible will be held accountable.”
Toronto Mayor David Miller blamed a bunch of thugs for the destruction, claiming that:
“People are calling them protesters. That is not fair to the people who came to protest,”
Of course, it had to be outside agitators causing this violence because this would destroy the myth that peace-loving Canadians are at all discontented with the government, state of the economy, or the increasing separation between rich and poor. Such violence and anomie is something we assume happens only south of our hallowed borders.