Security for the G8–G20 meetings, which begin tomorrow in Ontario, will cost Canadian taxpayers more than $1 billion. This amount is 25 times more than it cost to host two G20s last year in Pittsburgh and London, England. And it does not even include such expenditures as the $100,000 for a gazebo in the Huntsville area or the nearly $2 million for the additions, including a fake lake, to the International Media Centre in Toronto.
What will Canadian citizens get out of these meetings between representatives of the world’s richest and most powerful nations? One thing is certain: we have not been invited to participate.
G8-G20 leaders would rather that citizens leave global economic, social, and political policy-making to them. Although the policies of the G8-G20 affect billions of people on a daily basis, the agendas for the meetings are set without any democratic consultation and historically have favoured corporate over public interests. The meetings themselves take place behind closed doors and inside costly security fences specially designed to keep ordinary people out. Indeed, this is what “democracy” seems to mean today: keeping the people out of it, lest they contaminate it with ideas about building a better world.
But we can protest this undemocratic assembly by acting democratically. In defiance of the world’s wealthiest nations, we can speak up and let them know the kind of world we wish to live in.
A WORLD WITHOUT WAR
●Now, not next year, is the time for Canada to get out of Afghanistan. The best way to support our troops is to bring them home. The $2 billion that will be saved can be spent on the physical and mental rehabilitation of Canadian soldiers who have been in Afghanistan. ●Not counting the extra costs of the war in Afghanistan, Canada spent over $21 billion on its military in 2009. That’s an increase of about 50% in the last seven years. The money could be better spent on healthcare, education, and affordable housing. ●Canada is the 6th largest military exporter in the world, just behind China. While arms sales generate huge profits, the weapons systems contribute to violence, and fail to bring real peace and security. If Canada’s reputation as a country of peace is to be more than a myth, we will have to abandon our role as a major military exporter.
A WORLD WITHOUT POVERTY
●The establishment of a federal minimum wage, set at $12 an hour and indexed to inflation, and the implementation of a national affordable housing program, with an annual budget of $2.5 billion, would go some way to eliminating poverty in Canada. ●Fair trade–equitable economic exchanges between rich and poor countries–would help alleviate poverty in poor countries, as well as challenge the current, unjust, free trade trading system.
A WORLD WHERE INDIGENOUS RIGHTS ARE RECOGNIZED
●Only two countries have not signed the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. One of them is Canada. ●Within Canada, there is a dismal and ongoing legacy of colonialism and racism, made evident by, for example: the number of unresolved land claims (800); the rate of tuberculosis among Aboriginal peoples (31% higher than among the non Aboriginal population); the homicide rate for Aboriginal women (7 times higher than that for other Canadian women); and the funding deficit for First Nations children who attend school on reserves (30% less than other Canadian children).
A WORLD WHERE THERE IS ENVIRONMENTAL AND CLIMATE JUSTICE
●Bold action on climate change is needed now to avoid lasting consequences, such as rising sea levels, lost habitats for animal and plant species, and extreme weather episodes. Wealthy countries have caused most of the environmental damage and owe an ecological debt to poor countries, to all life, and to the future. ●At the Copenhagen conference on climate change last December, Canada presented the biggest stumbling block to a fair, ambitious, and binding climate change agreement. It was only after heavy pressure from world leaders and environmentalists that the Canadian government added climate change to the agendas of the G8 and G20 summits. ●Canada ranks first among G8 countries for increasing greenhouse gas emissions. We are the 10th largest greenhouse gas emitter in the world. The tar sands are the fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions in Canada. Over the next 15 years, they are slated to expand 5 times their current size.
- Let Prime Minister Harper know the kind of world you wish to live in: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Watch the live webcast from Toronto of the People’s Summit event: Shout Out for Global Justice
Friday, June 25th, 5:00 pm at the Research & Innovation Centre Theatre, LA119 at the University of Regina (between the Lab Building and College West).
Speakers include Naomi Klein, Amy Goodman, and Maude Barlow. The People’s Summit is an alternative summit that aims to create a space for informed dialogue about the economic, social, and political problems facing the world and for advocating for global justice.
MAKING PEACE VIGIL June 24 2010