Photo by Martin Reis.
One year ago this week, our city began to change. Barrier by barrier and restriction by restriction, in ways both visible and harder to detect, Toronto slowly closed in on itself. We were meant to play hosts to world leaders, shine in the international spotlight for a while, be grown-ups on a big stage. In the ways that mattered for how it felt to live and work and be in the city, though, we got smaller. Less free, less open, less inviting and, by the end of that week, less safe and less trusting, too.
One year ago this week: a giant fence, rallies, broken windows and burning cars, new laws nobody had heard of, and most of all—the biggest mass detention and arrest in Canadian history.
The G20 is with us still. It colours our relationship with the police, it curbs our appetite for hosting further grand events, it has left us more sceptical of our governments than before. But the biggest legacy of the summit does not lie in what happened, but in what hasn’t. Only a tiny fraction of those held by police in that record-breaking mass arrest were ever charged with wrongdoing, yet no comprehensive inquiry with the scope and subpoena powers required to fully investigate that situation has been struck. Nobody with the power to convene such an inquiry has expressed interest in doing so. We have seen no change in police officers’ willingness to testify against their colleagues and keep faith with the public they are sworn to defend. And so we have, one year later, no confidence that it wouldn’t, couldn’t happen again.
Over the course of this week we’ll look back at the G20 summit, consider what it meant for Toronto, and ask how it might continue to shape our city. Because even though it happened a year ago, the G20 isn’t really over.
For complete G20 retrospective coverage, go to One Year Later.