An outcry this week as debate in Canada's Parliament revealed the staggering Billion Dollar cost of securing the G-8 and G-20 Summit sites next month in southern Ontario.
From every account, the cost of providing security at the two locations: Toronto and Huntsville, June 25-26-27, is the most expensive of "any" summit meeting in history.
Although several summits have been held since the September 11, 2001 calamities in New York and on the Pentagon; the Government of Prime-Minister Stephen Harper cites the terrorist attacks of nine years ago as a primary reason for the unprecedented cost of securing the area and facilities where the heads of the world's most powerful economies will be meeting.
Digressing briefly - In as much as Canada can claim credit for the creation of the G-20 in the late 1990's by the then Minister of Finance, Paul Martin...It's thanks only to the Government of U.S. President Gerald Ford that our country secured a seat at the creation of the G-6 Group of nations at the Paris Summit of 1975.
In North America at least, there is an ongoing palpable vitriolic sense of paranoia and fear created in the wake of the attacks of September 11, 2001. Each subsequent misguided effort to execute a strike against the American homeland, no matter how minor the attempt or consequences, has only fueled further the apprehensive tensions.
Canada's right of centre Conservative Government, elected in January 2006, seems increasingly to be getting drawn into the same vortex. The unprecedented security measures which will cripple Canada's largest city for three days late next month are only a most recent manifestation. More than 200 American military conscientious objectors to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan await deportation from Canada this summer. The same nation which welcomed thousands of "draft dodgers" during the Viet Nam era.
The political climate here, and to a far greater extent in the United-States, somewhat reflects the Cold War era when many Americans dug backyard fallout shelters. There is in essence a free-floating anxiety in the heart of American suburbia. Worrisome examples include the "open carry" gun debate. So far, 35 American states allow residents to roam openly with guns, while another 12 allow it through permits. Some estimates indicate that "open carry" has as many as 30,000 followers. There are 196 million guns in the United-States. Gun politics in Canada is contentious, but there are at least two groups which actively promote the freedom to openly carry weapons at will: "Right To Keep And Bear Arms" is based in Ottawa; and "Canada Carry" is based in St. Constant on the outskirts of Montreal.
The Canadian government's decision to spend a Billion Dollars securing the two Ontario summit sites next month reflects a perception that ours are fearful times. Some - Perhaps many, in fact - fear that "the end is near!" Doomsday claims are being fueled by recent earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, terrorism and predictions of the world's end in 2012 when the ancient Mayan calendar is said to end. In several American states companies are taking money for what they promise will be comfortable "Armageddon" proof bunkers. Promoters of a company called "Vivos" claim to have so far collected deposits on about half of the 132 spaces in an underground bunker they're building under the Mojave Desert in California: $50,000 gets buyers a bunk in a 4-person room - Atrium, gym, jail, and cafeteria meals included. Similar projects are being developed in Oregon and in Kansas where underground $1.75 Million condos are planned.
NOT CRAZY - THESE ARE FEARFUL TIME: When everything is added-up; spending a Billion Dollars on security at the Ontario Summits is just one extreme manifestation of the feverish siege mentality gripping the early decades of the 21st Century. It's still quite unclear if or how this "fever" will break. Hopefully it will before the "open carry" proponents get to carry their weapons into the doomsday bunkers.