Dear sisters and brothers,
Imagine this: You are just finishing supper at home with the family when there’s a knock on the door.
You open the door, and the person standing there says something like this:
“Hi, I’m from the Government of Canada, and I’m collecting funds to pay for security at the G-20 and G-8 summit meetings. The cost is $30 for each person in your household. Will you be paying by cash, cheque, or credit card?”
If you’re like me, your answer would likely be to say, “Sorry, not interested” and close the door.
But in Stephen Harper’s Canada, we don’t have that choice. Harper will spend $1 billion of our money to protect a few politicians – from us. To do it, he will turn a vibrant, peaceful city into a locked-down war zone. Instead of baseball games and the Pride Parade (which Harper refuses to support) we’ll have “sound cannons” and riot police in full battle gear.
An outrageous waste of money? Obviously. Olivia Chow, a federal MP in downtown Toronto, told the House of Commons that $1 billion “could pay one-third of the costs of the millennium development goal and save the lives of over 10 million women and children by 2015.”
If saving lives is not a priority, what is?
There is no need to spend this money on G-20/G-8 security. If world leaders are so scared of people from Ontario, they should meet somewhere else. They could even hold their meetings in secret.
But Harper doesn’t want that, of course. He says he wants to showcase Canada’s banking system. But what he is really doing is putting on a show of force.
The statement he’s making couldn’t be clearer: Whatever big business needs, he will provide, and democracy be damned. Harper’s approach on everything from women’s rights to free trade with Colombia shows that, for him, violence is always an option.
His handling of G-20/G-8 security is just one more example.
Canadians need a Prime Minister who represents Canadian values, and soon. Let’s not wait for the knock on the door.
Warren (Smokey) Thomas
President, Ontario Public Service Employees Union