by Barry Weisleder
Over $1 Billion will be spent to ‘protect’ the top guns of global capitalism at the G8 meeting on June 25 in Huntsville, Ontario and at the G20 Summit on June 26-27 in Toronto. The security tab was boosted by an extra $321 million for the RCMP, with another $262 million going to the Public Safety department, and $63 million more for National Defence.
The G20 includes: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, South Korea, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, Britain and the United States, plus ‘guest’ countries Spain, Netherlands, Ethiopia, Vietnam and Malawi, and reps from the IMF, World Bank, OECD, the U.N. and the WTO.
The largest deployment of cops, security guards, spies, soldiers and air force personnel for a major event in Canadian history will be augmented by an array of weapons, such as ‘sound cannons’ and electro-shock tasers. The long-range acoustic devices (LRAD), used at last year’s G20 Summit in Pittsburgh, emit ear-blasting sounds that exceed normal thresholds of pain. They can cause permanent hearing damage.
Protection of politicians from protesters (behind a three meter high security barricade that will envelop the downtown Toronto Convention Centre and business district) might not have come at such a high premium if the policies of the ruling class henchmen were not so odious. Culpable indifference to climate change is just one example. While eco-catastrophe threatens the survival of species and civilization, the preoccupation of the capitalist elite is deficit reduction.
Recall that deficits and debt went through the roof when governments decided to bail out banks and giant companies. The latter fostered a credit balloon, literally to paper-over the central contradiction of capitalism: the overproduction of useless and wasteful things.
Now the world’s masses are saddled with the cost of the ensuing market crash. And to make matters worse, the G20 rulers aim to dismantle a century of working class rights and benefits.
According to an editorial in the May 24 Toronto Star, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which serves as a kind of secretariat for the G20, recommends a combination of the following measures: increase the age of retirement; de-fund medical treatments; freeze public sector wages; introduce means-testing for all social programmes; cut back agricultural supports for farmers; increase value-added taxes (GST in Canada, HST in Ontario); hike gasoline taxes and introduce a carbon tax on greenhouse gas emissions.
Capitalist politicians are, however, not interested in cutting the military, putting energy company mega-profits to work for conservation and green energy alternatives, nor in taxing the rich to support public health care, education, good nutrition, public transportation and decent, affordable housing.
To the contrary, the Stephen Harper Conservative minority government in Ottawa is busy campaigning to block a special tax on financial speculation and ‘excess’ bank profits – even though such a tax is touted by European powers and Washington as a hedge against the next big bank meltdown.
In the first three months of 2010, Canada’s five biggest banks reported profits of $5.09 Billion – up 71 per cent from a year earlier. The last thing bankers want is for Ottawa to intervene because it might lead, heaven forbid, to spending their hoarded wealth (part of the surplus value massively expropriated from working people) on social needs.
But workers, students, women, aboriginal peoples and seniors who take to the streets of Toronto in late June are sure to bring a different approach to matters of finance and the environment. Let the rulers tremble when the people chant: “System change, not climate change!” “Nationalize the banks, big oil and big business, under workers’ control!”