Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION
Is there truly not a better way?
The disruptions caused by the G8/G20 summits planned for Muskoka and Toronto are numerous. Basically the heart of downtown Toronto will be in lock-down mode from June 25-27.
Several blocks of downtown Toronto are currently being enclosed by a 3 metre tall fence. If you live and work inside the zone, you will need to get a registration card which means submitting an application and photo ID for security clearance just so you can go home or go to work. Several businesses reportedly are telling employees to stay away from the office during the summit.
The CN Tower is going to be closed and several downtown theatres will be dark for the weekend, right in the middle of a weekend in tourist season.
Via Rail is bypassing Union Station in downtown Toronto and hoping to shuttle passengers between suburban stations instead.
The $933-million bill for security alone is almost too massive to contemplate not to mention the lost tourist revenue for Toronto over that weekend.
Then there are the "other" costs which are now trickling out.
Like the fake Lake Muskoka and replica Toronto Stock Exchange Canada is building inside the world media centre to create a Canadian Corridor for visiting journalists. Although Canada spent $50 million to spruce up the Muskoka region ahead of the summits, most of the delegations and the vast majority of the world media will get nowhere near it. Only 200 media of the estimated 3,000 coming to cover the summits will be allowed into the Huntsville, Ont., area to cover the G8 up close. All the others will remain behind at the Toronto media centre. But to ensure they don’t miss the Canadian experience we are spending $1.9 million to build a fake lake (Industry Minister Tony Clement calls it a reflecting pool) with canoes, lakeside blackberry recharging stations with dock chairs, and the aforementioned replica of the stock exchange. (The real one is located less than 5 km away from the media centre.)
Not to mention the government already spent $23 million renovating a hockey arena in the Muskokas for the international media but then decided to keep the media in a separate location in Toronto instead.
All of this and the draft communiqués, (fancy government summit speak for news releases) are already in motion meaning 90 per cent at least of what the leaders are going to agree to at these summits has already been agreed to before anyone has packed a single suitcase.
Unless those leaders can come up with a way to implement world peace, end child poverty worldwide and explain the Caramilk secret, there is little chance whatever they come up with at their tete-a-tete will leave Canadians feeling this was money well spent.
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About Mia Rabson
Mia Rabson is a born and bred Winnipegger whose interest in politics seemed clear when she dressed up as Prime Minister Brian Mulroney for Halloween in the 7th grade.
Her interest in writing was no surprise to her parents, who learned early in Mia’s life that no piece of blank paper — or wall, for that matter — was safe in her hands.
She holds an honours BA in English from Queen’s University, a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Western Ontario, and has completed a political journalism fellowship in Washington, D.C. with the Washington Centre for Politics and Journalism.
Prior to working for the Winnipeg Free Press, Mia briefly worked for the Detroit News in the paper’s Washington bureau.
Mia joined the Free Press team in February 2001, and in April 2001 was appointed to the Manitoba legislature bureau. In December 2004, she was appointed bureau chief at the legislature. She became the newspaper’s parliamentary bureau chief/national reporter in Ottawa in January 2008.
In 2008 she was nominated for a Michener Award with a team of reporters from the Free Press for its coverage of the province’s child welfare system.
She counts reliving the invasion at Dieppe, France, with veterans of the failed Second World War expedition and overcoming her fear of heights to touch the Golden Boy statue atop the Legislative Building among her favourite experiences as a reporter.
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