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The Globe and Mail

How Vancouver squelched Olympic violence - and Toronto still can

Riot police move towards a police car set on fire by anarchist demonstrators in the midst of protests on the streets during the G20 summit in Toronto.

MARK BLINCH/Mark Blinch/REUTERS

Watching from the west coast - also known as the left coast, as well as the home of the loonie left - one is saddened at reports of nasty confrontations in Toronto. And concerned of where things may be heading - to the detriment not only of Canada's major urban centre, but to the country as a whole.

For a very brief period, that prospect loomed during the Olympics. But four factors brought an early end to the violence.

First, the police had been superbly trained, and avoided any over-reaction.

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Second, the destruction of property and other acts of violence were quickly condemned by the Mayor of Vancouver - a former NDP member of the legislature - and the city council, also controlled by the left. They were joined by the opposition party in the provincial legislature (Ignatieff, Layton:are you listening?). Non-elected lefties on the west coast quickly followed suit in condemning the violence.

Third, the protesters were roundly denounced by the media; in fact, I cannot think of any journalists who expressed even a modicum of sympathy or admiration for the demonstrators, which is not the impression I've been getting in reports for the past week from Toronto.

Finally, after some initial hesitation, the violent demonstrations were eventually condemned by the BC Civil Liberties Association.

Try it, Toronto: the formula may work for you too.

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