Monday, June 28, 2010

G-20 Summit Toronto 2010: Summarized--Part I Fake Lake and Fiscal Responsibility, Indeed

Real Muskoka chairs on real lake in Muskoka

Real canoe on real Muskoka lake

I guess this is a girl Muskoka chair, or the son of very socially liberal Muskoka chairs; 
however, real, and on a real Muskoka lake in early fall

Back in the age of innocence, before the G-20 Toronto Summit occurred, many Canadians were in a state of discomfiture (a litotes if there ever was one, ie an understatement), over the split between the G-8 being held in Muskoka, a wooded lake and cottage region a 3 hour drive north of Toronto, and the G-20 being hastily organized in Toronto proper. The biggest scandal pre-Summit was the discovery of Fake Lake--an indoor installation in the Metro Convention Centre press room designed to imitate a Muskoka setting for the benefit of international journalists either working or taking a break.

The total installation, including another part with fake city sky scrapers, cost almost $2 million. This was doubly ironic, because the G-20 was held essentially on the shore of Lake Ontario, one of the 5 Great Lakes that Canada and the US share (the border runs through them, fortunately more peaceably than through the Persian/Arabian Gulf); and, at the south end of the business district. One need only look out the window, or stand in the portico of the Metro Convention Centre where the Summit meetings took place, to see a real lake or real sky scrapers. Even in retrospect, these 2 activities, look out the window or stand in the portico and face south to the lake or north to the downtown, seem safe options. No one ever breached the inner security perimetre set for the Summit so the porticos were safe vantage points as were the windows.

However, in those heady times of pre-Summit anticipation, Fake Lake got immense water-cooler and press coverage, even before it had been revealed, in all its centimetres deep, smaller than a city fountain, glory. Above you have the real Muskoka; below, you see Fake Lake.

Real Muskoka chairs, real canoes suspended, video of Muskoka lake region, fake "lake" a few centimetres deep, in the media centre, downtown Toronto, for the G-20 Summit, part of a $1.9 million installation



Above, the media get a tour of Fake Lake

Bearing in mind that the theme of this Summit was fiscal responsibility, restraint, even austerity, I do believe the Brits summed up Canadian ire the best: G8/G20: Critics decry Canada's $1.1bn summits bill. However, perhaps in their understated fashion, they seemed to minimize the cost of Fake Lake, failing to appreciate that Canadians see the tripartite installation as a totality, a $2 million dollar totality, and we merely focus on Fake Lake as the most egregious and interesting in comparison to Fake City Scape. The British notation of Fake Lake as "Harper's Folly" was particularly good, though.

The 3rd part of the temporary installation, on Canada's technological achievements, is/was somewhat more sensible, even if the journalists were using exemplars of the same in their work at the media centre. But, Canadians are very nice and polite, so we gave the installation a pass on that one. At least we are very nice and polite when we aren't demonstrating and protesting. We don't riot, though. We firmly believe the Black Block which were the most violent rioters were American imports. That, of course, remains to be determined.

A Muskoka lake

Above, another view of a real Muskoka lake. Below, a visual demonstration of what one might see from the safety of the Security Zone, if one were to look out the window, or stand outside, or wait until the end of the Summit, and spend an extra 1/2 day before heading to the airport. Unless one headed to the Island Airport, then one would be on a lake, a Great Lake, Lake Ontario.

Toronto Island Ferry, from beside the Metro Convention Centre to the 3 Toronto Islands a few minutes away; note real sky scrapers in the background

Fishing on the lake side of the Toronto Islands

Do you prefer your lakes fake or real?
Any objections to a hot pink Muskoka chair?
What do you think the installation says about financial attitudes?
On the other hand, was this installation a necessary respite for the 3000 journalists in attendance?
Does the tourism marketing value outweigh the cost?
You know I'm joking about the American rioters, right? (at least until it's proven ;) )
Any other comments, thoughts, impressions?

All posts on the G-20 Summit:
The G-20 Meet the GlBTQ
The G(irls) 20 Summit: Part I--Background
The G(irls) 20 Summit: Part II--The Delegates
G-20 Summit 2010 Toronto: Protesters vs Demonstrators vs Rioters; Another Brilliant Harper Idea
G-20 Summit 2010 Toronto: Saudi Arabia, King Abdullah, and Young Saudi Delegates
G-20 Summit Toronto 2010: Summarized--Part I Fake Lake and Fiscal Responsibility, Indeed
G-20 Summit Toronto 2010: Summarized--Part II Riots, Amnesty International, and an Unfinished Agenda

Coming next...G-20 Summit Toronto 2010: Summarized--Part II Riots, Amnesty International, and an Unfinished Agenda

2 comments:

Susanne said...

I'm all for fiscal responsibility/restraint and not spending taxpayer money on silly things so no I don't think the money was well spent. On the other hand, if nothing "cool" was done, I wonder if people would protest how we (Canadians) presented ourselves to the visiting world. "We look too cheap! We didn't do enough! They will laugh at how such a rich country cut corners to save money!" so in a way it's one of those damned if you do, damned if you don't things. Can't please everyone ... ever.

Also on your other post, I can imagine if the summit were held 3 hours away, people would say, "They are trying to restrict us from protesting by making it harder for us to be there. They did it in an elite place (darn capitalists!) instead among the commoners!" So I could see people complaining about that also.

I prefer REAL lakes and really loved the pictures!

Chiara said...

Susanne--glad you liked the post--and real lakes--and the pictures! I do think there will always be critics: "Can't win for losing" comes to mind. This expense is really hard to justify. Recent events in terms of issues about the policing make this topic pale in comparison now. All in all a bad idea to have it in Toronto.

Thanks again for your comment, and sorry to reply so late!

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