The Toronto Globe and Mail reports that the huge Canadian city is quiet and under lockdown as prominent leaders from many countries converge on Toronto for a G-20 summit. The paper reports that many people are choosing to work at home or took a day off to avoid the hassles of trying to get to work in parts of the city that are under tight security.
The worst emergency of the day happened when the media centre was locked down due to an unattended bag. Eventually a journalist came to claim the bag. Police and security are everywhere and on every street corner keeping an eye on small businesses and office buildings.
The G20 summit will be hosting over 30 international delegations and will focus on economic recovery this go round. There will be another G20 summit in November in Seoul, South Korea.
What Lockdown is Like
The last time I was under a lockdown was when then-Vice President Al Gore visited Springfield, Missouri, and the campus of then-Southwest Missouri State as a campaign stop through the middle of the country as Clinton and Gore were seeking re-election in 1996. The venue in which the meeting was being held was an old basketball arena that would hold about 5,000 people.
Secret Service agents were everywhere. Snipers were atop the buildings that were taller and traffic was blocked off. The dorms and academic buildings seemed to be going smoothly although the shuttle service was shut down and re-routed for the day as a potential security risk.
I was one of the lucky ones to get to see him and go inside. The brick street leading up to the venue was blocked off and Al Gore was to be ushered in the back door. After I emptied my pockets, walked through a security gate, and was patted down I was allowed in to hear the forty five minute speech.
As a Democrat already it was a thrill for me to be a part of the political process on a national level by hearing a campaign speech from the Vice President of the United States. Even if I wasn’t politically aligned with the speaker it was still exciting to have such a large political figure on a small stage.
While not nearly as bad as Toronto’s lack of traffic, Al Gore was just one man versus needing security for 30 entire delegations. Traffic just off campus ran normally except for when the Gore contingency came through. Life on campus quickly came back to normal after the Vice President left at 10:30 A.M.
The Globe and Mail and the official Toronto G20 website were my sources of information for this article.