One week before violence came to the streets of downtown Toronto during the 2010 G20 Sid Ryan of the Ontario Federation of Labour and Maude Barlow of the Council of Canadians issued statements that helped launch one of the year’s biggest conspiracy theories. Ryan and Barlow warned the government not to plant agent provocateurs into G20 marches- pointing out Quebec Provincial Police sent undercover officers dressed as Black Bloc protesters at Montebello in 2007.
Meanwhile, in parallel, associates of Ryan and Barlow’s organizations who were leading the protest openly admitted some participants planned on violence. Websites were published, Youtube videos filmed, and militants wheat pasted signs across the city- making it clear some protesters came for a battle. Moments before the violence Canada’s most prominent supporter of Black Bloc tactics Harsha Walia led the militant bloc with her husband Harjap Grewal of the Council of Canadians at her side.
Media reports, both before and after the violence, were so commonly inept they helped fuel a conspiracy theory that the police were behind it all- many Torontonians still think this today. Last week, five years after the G20, the very same organizers led a march through Downtown Toronto to protest the Pan-Am Environmental summit- it was a great opportunity to see how and if quality of the media’s coverage changed.