"Where else would you go when you have an ax to grind?"

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Boys and their toys

As mentioned below, the Canadian government is spending over a billion dollars on security for the upcoming Group of Eight and Group of Twenty summit dog-and-pony shows. This is more than five times the original estimate and dwarfs the amounts spent on similar summits in London (April 2009 $30 million) and Pittsburgh (Sept. 2009 -$18 million) both of which dealt with more protesters than can probably be expected in "Toronto the Good"
Some of the money has gone on shiny new toys for the RCMP, OPP and Toronto Police riot squads, crowd control units and motorcade cops as well as the usual close protection bodyguard types, though naturally all the world leaders will be bringing their own sizable security details. About a million dollars has been spent to buy the Toronto Police four "sound notifiers" aka sonic cannons capable of producing sound pressure/ decibel levels about the same as standing behind a 747 when it revs its jets. This isn't just a loud public address system, it is a weapon that causes extreme pain and permanent hearing damage.
Of course that leaves about another $1,099,000,000 for police y, new horses and motorcycles, riot gear, pepper spray, tasers, and lots and lots of "consulting fees" for "security experts" and plenty of contracts for private security firms. I bet this guy doesn't get any of it.
In fact, it is so much money that they could have simply paid every man, woman and child in the entire province of Ontario about $95 just to stay home for those two weekends and still have had enough to provide a similar level of security to the Pittsburgh summit. Or they could have paid everyone in the Greater Toronto Area about $200 to spend the weekend out of town. If that seems like overkill, we could strictly limit it to Metro Toronto, give all 2.48 million residents $400 and still have more than three times as much as they spent on the London summit to buy coffee and donuts for the Toronto cops.
In addition to the gratuitous skimming and graft bookkeeping problems, my real worry is that you can't give the boys their toys and not expect them to play with them. As we've seen numerous times since the needless pepper-spraying of demonstrators at the 1997 APEC summit to the over-reaction of police at Queen's Park in Toronto in 2000, in New York at the 2004 Republican Convention and at the Minnesota 2008 Republican Convention, if you bring in enough riot cops, you are going to have a riot.
Even if the cops have to try to start it themselves.

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