G20: There we have it

A protester sits on the ground in front of a line of police on Saturday, June 26, 2010. (Submitted by warphotographer)

By Heather Morrison, G20 citizen blogger

heather52.jpgThe G20 wraps up in Toronto, the leaders are on their way back to their resident countries, taking with them hundreds of delegates and planners in Canada for the summit. Hopefully they are also taking with them a greater sense of what our world needs in order to make it through the next few years in one piece.

As we saw from the demonstrations that flooded Toronto's streets this past weekend, there are many issues to be addressed: Immigration, poverty, economic regulations and guidelines, women's and children's health, and the state of our environment, to name a few.

As Toronto reflects on the G20, it is important to keep in mind that these summits do indeed bring together leaders who can make decisions and affect positive change for our friends, families and the world as a whole. That said, it is also time for the leaders to reflect. To reflect on the violence these summits bring into cities and on the amount of money spent, not only in preparing for security measures, but on recovering lost profits for local business owners, public transportation systems, tourist dollars and individual money spent to relocate for the weekend.

Face-to-face summits may in fact be required, but at what cost? Can these summits not be hosted in a secure area, built for a onetime fee, and reused many times over? Can the one or two billion dollars spent and lost on the G20 summit not be spent to support the goals put forward by our leaders? Ask any NGO what $1 billion could do for them and I am sure they would respond with a laundry list of items that truly benefit our societies.

As we watched the events of this weekend unfold, I know many Torontonians felt that the police were unjust in their actions, detaining a number of bystanders on Sunday night and arresting those who may have appeared innocent. The thing to remember is that we, as civilians, don't know each and every warning or threat the police are acting on. Their job to ensure safety is not an easy one. If you were among the detained, you need to take some responsibility for putting yourself into a situation you knew could turn dangerous and may result in heightened security of the area - this is probably why you were there taking photos and videos in the first place. It's often fun to be part of the action, but it does come with its consequences.

Bringing the voices of Torontonians to light for the duration of this G20 was a great opportunity. I hope that everyone, the leaders and Torontonians, take lessons home with them.

Related: Meet the team