G20 Notebook: Friday, June 25

Greetings from the DMZ…well, it is not necessarily like the DMZ but downtown Toronto, now known as Fortress Toronto,is in full effect. Approximately 340 journalists, both international and national, are being housed in the International Media Centre, and the sights and sounds are like a United Nations reunion.

Here are some observations from the shore of the $57,000 fake lake…which is more like an elaborate kiddy pool.

THE “FAKE LAKE” : First wrongly reported to come with a $1.9 million price tag, the fake little piece of Muskoka life in the media centre actually costs $57,000. Changing Muskoka scenes on the big screen, a replica deck with Adirondack chairs and canoes…with piped in lake-like sounds, what a wonderful respite for us hacks…and a great tourism outreach ploy.

“It is quite nice, we appreciate it,” said a German reporter. “We will not get to Muskoka and will be making this cavern home for the week while we work.”

“I like it, it is relaxing and an original idea,” noted a Mexican journalist.

“So this is it? I can’t believe so much fuss was made over this,” said an Australian scribe.

“If you think..for $57,000, this is not too bad,” said a prominent CBC television news personality as they lounged in a deck chair.

Ahh...the famed Fake Lake of Toronto's G20. Photo: Vince Versace

MUSKOKA INITIATIVE on MATERNAL, NEWBORN & CHILD HEALTH: Prime Minister Stephen Harper got his gold star, summit legacy initiative cemented, by delivering his Muskoka Initiative. Harper and his G8 partners delivered a $5 billion commitment over the next five years to reduce maternal and infant mortality. Canada’s portion, $3.9 billion- Harper said since we survived the recession better than our G8 partners we should  commit a higher portion.

MUSKOKA INITIATIVE…it all depends: The African Medical & Research Foundation “cautiously” welcomed the G8 commitment and recommend the funds be directed to basic, frontline health services in sub-Saharan Africa. A community based approach would make the biggest difference in the lives of these mothers and children.

However, Make Poverty History called it “shameful” and that young children and pregnant woman can “draw little comfort” from the “meager offering”. Make Poverty says at least 1,000 women a day die from childbirth related causes and that $30 billion is needed to address the problem worldwide.

SECRET LAW PASSED: News today that the province passed a law a month ago that allows police to arrest and charge anyone near the G20 security zone (within five metres of the security fence), who refuses to identify himself,  surprised quite a few of us scribes. Hard to believe it quietly squeaked through. I’m all for the security detail at this summit, you need to guard against the yahoos but this law and the fact no debate was held on it screams of undemocratic process…very disappointing. However, it does not justify violent protests, so put that brick down junior.

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