ABC News' David Kerley reports:
TORONTO — What a feather in a country’s cap — to host the top 20 industrialized nations in the world, which account for more than 80 percent of the economic activity around the globe. Canada’s Steven Harper is playing host at the G-8 and G-20 meetings, leading the group sessions.
Too bad this little get together is costing his country $1.4 billion. Yes, that is billion with a “B.” In fact, nearly $1 billion of that cost is just for security: $1 billion to make sure the 19 other leaders arrive in Canada, and leave two-and-a-half days later safely.
Police are everywhere here in downtown Toronto — on motorcycles, in cars. There are plenty of snipers on roofs of high rises. And those police have another tool to use. The Ontario government quietly, some say secretly, passed a measure allowing police to ask for identification and question anyone who gets close to the G-20 venue in downtown.
A lot of people will try to get close today. These world leader meetings are also gatherings for those unhappy with how the world is being run. Anarchists, protesters for the poor, radical environmentalists are in town and plan to make their voices heard. It’s raining here today, but that is unlikely to dampen the effort to protest.
Will the leaders even see the protesters? Probably not. And they probably won’t see the artificial lake Harper had built at the media center to give journalists a feel for Canadian nature and the picturesque resort three hours north of Toronto where these meetings started. That cost just less than $2 million. And these leaders are here to talk about ways to keep the global recovery going!
- David Kerley