G-20 roundup: Slowly, the media are catching on…


The Torygraph dutifully printed the above photo in 2009, but are the major media really getting the message? A few small items give me hope that a little of the truth IS finally starting to filter through:

The Toronto Star prints Dave Coles’s analysis of what “went wrong” at the Toronto summit. The union leader comes to the same conclusions as I’ve drawn on a number of occasions:

There is strong circumstantial evidence that, faced with a public relations defeat over the cost of the two summits, high-ranking members of the government and police orchestrated a clandestine security operation. The operation was orchestrated to inflame the public imagination against all protesters. Strategically, it was designed to justify what is still truly unjustifiable — $1 billion on security.


The dominant image emerging from the summit is of a black-clothed “protester” smashing windows, and an apocalyptic image of a burning police cruiser. Those images had their desired effect. Opinion polls now show most people support police actions, in light of the demonstrator violence.

What if the Saturday rampage was allowed to happen? These are serious questions, and need a public inquiry to answer them.

Look at the evidence. Police sources told the Toronto Sun that they were ordered to stand down, and let the rampage unfold on Saturday. Officers standing down throughout the streets of the downtown were vividly captured on video.

Video evidence shows a “demonstrator” trashing two Toronto police cars. He is wearing the same thick-soled boots as those of the police riot squads standing down, and watching, a block away. All the boots bear the same yellow logo. We unmasked three police agents provocateurs at Montebello by noticing that the trio were wearing the exact same military-issue boots as uniformed police. The old saw is: If something looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it probably is a duck. This “demonstrator” looks like a cop, right up to his buzz cut. He has everything but an earpiece.

If that sounds a bit familiar, you’ve probably seen it here before. Dave Coles is one of the legitimate protesters (along with Maude Barlow and a number of actual anarchists) who unmasked the Montebello provocateurs in this prior entry of mine. And he’s also facing an uphill battle in the inquiry into that incident, according to the Montreal Gazette:

Lawyers for Quebec’s provincial police tried Monday to block a protester from participating at a police ethics commission investigation into the behaviour of three undercover officers at a 2007 demonstration.

Allowing third parties to intervene would add to the cost and make the process more complicated and inefficient, Andre Fiset told police ethics commissioner Richard Iuticone.

“Who knows how many days it would go on?”

Fiset and two other lawyers argued that Dave Coles, president of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada, should not be given standing in the complaint against the three Surete du Quebec officers, who posed as protesters at the North American leaders’ summit in Montebello, Que.

Such designation would allow him to cross-examine and subpoena witnesses and submit evidence at the hearing against sergeants Jean-Francois Boucher, Joey Laflamme and Patrick Tremblay.

Well, at least now we know the names of the three burly phonies (one of whom had a rock in his hand, indicating an attempt at violent provocation) who couldn’t fool a real anarchist OR a real unionist.

Obviously, time is not the issue here, and neither is cost or complexity; the real issue is the use of police provocateurs, which is illegal in Canada, but apparently is not supposed to be an issue. That’s why the cops’ lawyers are not eager to have Dave Coles question their clients on the stand. They know the cops would lose.

As it stands, the “normal” process is sorely lacking in fairness and thoroughness both:

Coles later submitted a complaint to the police ethics committee, which was rejected, although the commissioner acknowledged that one or more of the sergeants verbally abused and shoved the man, repeatedly refused to identify themselves and refused to put down a rock when asked to do so. But the commissioner said that under the circumstances, the behaviour was justified.

Coles asked that the committee revise its decision, which it did, and ordered the same commissioner who rejected the original complaint to proceed against the three officers.

“This raises serious doubts about the commissioner’s ability to seek out evidence and conduct cross-examination that may show that his previous conclusions about the facts of this matter were ill-founded and wrong,” says the motion submitted by lawyer Mike Cohen, who is representing Coles.

“Any reasonable person would find this very bizarre,” he added Monday in an interview.

He says it “makes no sense” that the same commissioner who refused to cite the officers is now required to proceed against them. “We argue that there are provisions in the law for the committee to allow a third party to intervene.”

Obviously, the police can’t police themselves. And their commissioner didn’t want to; it took a protest from Dave Coles to get his decision reversed. And the law guarantees him standing–something the police ethics commission didn’t want to grant him. No doubt because it has much to hide. One wonders why–they themselves admitted shortly after the 2007 incident that yes, they HAD used infiltrators!

And yes, those infiltrators are the three burly men in the video, who are now named as violators of law. When the police break the law rather than upholding it, then use an ethics commission (conveniently, convened by themselves) to try to cover their own tracks, well…draw your own conclusions, gentle reader. I would humbly submit that they’ve just totally undermined their own authority as enforcers of the law, and that their credibility is shot to hell.

Meanwhile, on the actual anarchist front, Macleans has an almost-good (surprisingly so) piece on what they’re really like, and what they’re really about:

That commitment of purpose and the long-standing relationships belie a common view of the G20 demonstrators as hobbyists or kids out to smash some windows. Yet a glance at Canada’s increasingly militant left shows that, far from being driven by socially isolated ideologues or rampaging teens, it is composed of sturdy networks of committed, methodical people organized into “affinity groups”–small, intensely democratic collectives that reject words like “leader” and “organizer,” and insist that executive positions are transient if they exist at all. Such groups can move quickly and fluidly, both during mobilizations on staging grounds like the G20, and more routinely in their communities.

The first page of that piece (which is infinitely better than the second, where the hunt for an imaginary pathology begins) also highlights the fact that “squatter” activists actually took care of the va
cant building they occupied, which was not ruined until police broke a window and chucked a can of tear gas in. Once again, it begs the question: Who are the real villains here, the cops or the anarchists?

Finally, let’s hope Alex Hundert is right when he says the people are waking up. The first thing needed, always always ALWAYS, is a change of consciousness.

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