How much sense does it make to shell out a billion dollars to plunk down the G20 summit in the middle of downtown Toronto? Zero, zip, nada, goose egg, says Rex Murphy:
Summits are useless, expensive and potentially dangerous anachronisms.
Let's take the G20 summit, which will be held June 26-27 in Toronto. No one from the general public will be meeting with the world leaders--summits are not for mingling. So why are the leaders gathering in the middle of Canada's most populous city when the very idea of interacting with any of the city's population is absolutely impossible?
Once inside the summit venue the leaders -- and their insanely bloated retinues --will be almost antiseptically sealed off from every other bit of Toronto. It's all fortified meeting rooms and security-proofed hotels for them. Effectively, they will come to Toronto, stay behind a shield of impassable security and talk to leaders they've already met. It makes zero sense.This time around, we don't even get poor tired old Bono; the old scold is recovering from back surgery. I think I know, though, how they could have added some much-needed zest and pizzazz to the gruel: they should have held it in conjuction with our signature glam event, the Toronto International Film Festival. Think of it: Angela Merkel and Angelina Jolie--fodder for both People and the Economist.
There's another objection. In older, less cynical days the leaders of the world enjoyed some genuine prestige. There was a sense that a city was receiving "an honour" when the leaders from other countries visited. Not now. In a world rocked by recession, terrorism and the threat of terrorism, there is not only no thrill to leaders visiting, in some cases there is palpable resentment.
World leaders are neither revered nor even, in most cases, seen as very interesting. Why do you think these summits so frequently drag in poor tired old Bono? To get a little second-hand celebrity sauce for an otherwise very flat meal...
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