Monthly Archives: June 2010

Quote of the Day: Frye on Democracy and Freedom

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Frye in his Convocation Address at Acadia University, May 6, 1969:

“Revolutions are started, though they are seldom finished, by people of conviction.  Nothing is more tedious than other people’s convictions, and the most natural response to tedium is apathy.  But apathy, on the part of the majority, means that democracy is no longer a matter of majority rule, but is simply a state of enduring the tyranny of organized minorities.  It is no good talking of “backlash”: a society that does not believe in itself is fundamentally helpless, no matter how much backlashing goes on . . .

Freedom without concern can, it is quite true, become a lazy and selfish parasite on a power-structure.  But concern without freedom can equally well become the most squalid of tyrannies, contemptuous of truth and with no moral principles beyond its next tactic.”  (CW 10, 335)

Police Provocateurs at Montebello Summit, 2007

This CBC report from 2007 describes how three police officers were caught posing as masked, rock wielding “anarchists” at the 2007 Security and Prosperity Partnership Summit (Canada, U.S. and Mexico) in Montebello, Quebec.  (The Surete du Quebec later confirmed that these three men were indeed police officers, but denied they were doing anything wrong.)

There of course ought to be no rush to judgement here regarding events in Toronto, but what is striking is how similar the apparent motivation, and that is to discredit otherwise peaceable demonstrations.  Because no matter how you frame what happened in Toronto over the weekend, it is indisputable that the police did not move against the Black Bloc vandals who went on a 90 minute rampage in the downtown core, but they did encircle, attack and detain hundreds of peaceful demonstrators afterward.

G20 Security Costs

An eyewitness account of how the police allowed the Black Bloc to rampage through the downtown core for one and a half hours before launching attacks with pepper spray and batons on legally assembled demonstrators

According to Linda McQuaig of the Toronto Star, here are the security costs for G20 conferences in Toronto, London and Pittsburgh, and it reveals a breathtaking disparity, particularly when you consider the outcome:

Toronto, June 2010 — $930 million

London, April 2009 — $28 million

Pittsburgh, September 2009 — $12 million

Arrests in Toronto: 900, the largest mass arrest in Canadian history — that’s almost double, by the way, the total number of arrests during the October Crisis of 1970.  Among those arrested or detained in Toronto: journalists, by-standers, people waiting for a bus, as well as hundreds of peaceful demonstrators exercising their constitutional right of free assembly.

And yet the police stood by while Black Bloc vandals smashed windows and set curiously abandoned police vehicles ablaze.

Thanks to Harper’s initiative, G20 countries are committed to cutting deficits in half by 2013, robbing our economies of much needed stimulus.  This will mean cuts to education, health care, and unemployment insurance.  Think how much the billion dollars spent on self-evidently bad security is needed now.  We can afford Harper’s debutante ball, but apparently not the maintenance of social services.

“Canadians Demanding a Public Inquiry into Toronto G20” Facebook here.

TVO’s Steve Paikin Describes Unprovoked Police Attack Upon Peaceful Demonstrators [Updated]

Two attacks upon the same crowd described in detail, including the use of gunfire now denied by the authorities, and the assault on a journalist already detained.

[Update] Toronto criminal lawyer Howard Morton discusses the arrest of hundreds of peaceful demonstrators, what we know about police infiltration of the Black Bloc, and the Ontario Public Safety Act here.

Northrop Frye School

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Unveiling the construction of the new Northrop Frye School this morning

The good people at the Northrop Frye Festival these days seem to move with enviable confidence from success to success.  As you can see, their lobbying has finally given us the Northrop Frye School, now under construction in Moncton.  It will be a kindergarten to grade 8 school for 650 children.  It will open in January 2011.

Congratulations to all concerned.

A picture of the school’s new principal and vice principal after the jump.

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Quote of the Day

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“Prime Minister Stephen Harper has hailed an agreement among G20 leaders at the close of their Toronto summit on a Canadian-led plan for industrialized nations to slash their deficits in half within three years.”  CBC News

Paul Krugmam, on the other hand, warns that the lack of stimulus spending may mean a Third Depression.

There’s a very notable precedent from 1937-38: President Roosevelt was convinced by conservatives to rein in New Deal spending before the economy had fully recovered, which caused a second serious recessionary dip.

Meanwhile, if Harper is boasting about this, then he owns it.  But be aware that the Americans explicitly warned of the likelihood of a double-dip recession by this route.

However, you may take comfort knowing that the wealthiest percentile of the population — including the masters of the universe responsible for the collapse of the financial markets two years ago — will be just fine.  No penalties.  No new taxes.  No, the cost of their folly is being fully loaded off onto the millions upon millions of innocent bystanders who’ve already been looted.  Now, thanks to deficit-slashing, we can expect extensive cutbacks in social spending — health care, education, unemployment benefits — as further punishment for our woes.

And it’s a Canadian initiative, as Harper goes out of his way to remind us.

Was the “Miami Model” Used in Toronto?

Police surround and then attack peaceful protesters in Toronto.  In just about every video like this I’ve seen, they very quickly target people filming the event.

Catherine Porter of the Toronto Star explains.

Frye on police power:

But in an atmosphere of real fear and real suspicion the police must become both more efficient and more tolerant if they are to be of any use in defending democracy. Otherwise, they will be not only unjust to individuals, but dangerous to their own community. (Canadian Forum 29, no. 346 [November 1949]: 170)