U.S. 9/11 terrorist attack warrants $18 million for G20 security, London subway attack $30 million and Canadian vandalism of local bank branch $1 billion . . . must be the exchange rate?

Posted on June 6, 2010

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I must admit that after viewing the video of the recent firebombing of a Royal Bank branch in Ottawa, I initially had reservations about writing what I felt in my gut was not an act of true terrorism but what had every appearance of being an act of vandalism by disenfranchised neighborhood youths .

While I did not, nor do I want to now minimize the seriousness of the perpetrators actions, especially since the outcome could have easily extended beyond significant property damage to one with fatal consequences . . . even at 3:00 AM, an appropriate response by the authorities would be one centered on swift apprehension versus escalating G8 and G20 summit security costs to $1 billion.

Before I get into a hunting mosquitoes with cannons analogy-centric ranting however, the basis for determining if this was indeed vandalism or a true act of terrorism with a bonafide threat of more to come later this month, I believed that a little more than a gut level feeling based on the apparent awkwardness of the individuals in the video was needed. Especially since I do not have any direct involvement or for that matter knowledge of how the investigation is progressing.

This was the main impetus for bringing together a guest panel of experts whose diverse backgrounds would provide a broader lens of experience through which to view the incident and, in the process, come to a consensus of sorts regarding the vandalism versus terrorism question. Thank God I have a radio show.

Joining me on May 27th to discuss the Ottawa bombing on the PI Window on Business was bestselling author and internationally acclaimed criminal profiler and lecturer Pat Brown, blogger extraordinaire and sometime contributor to the National Post Dr. John Baglow and, author John Berling Hardy, whose experience at the Szeged Paprika Plant in Hungary led to his first book The Hidden Game.

Rather than go into a long dissertation regarding the detailed specifics of the 60 minute segment – I will leave it up to you to tune in to the on-demand version of the live broadcast which is available through the following LINK for the actual dialogue – it would be sufficient to say that the relative ease by which the panel concluded that we are looking at the work of vandals versus hardened terrorists speaks volumes.

Even though we will not really know the true story until arrests are made and the resulting trial takes place, it is hard to discount the unanimity of the panel’s opinion. After all we are talking about a panel that consists of a top notch criminal profiler, a writer (even one with left leanings) and, an author whose first hand experiences with the corruption that plagues emerging capital markets in former communist states is the stuff from which great spy novels emerge, provide a collective perspective that is hard to ignore.

For this reason, and in an obvious effort to justify an expenditure that is six times greater than what was originally projected, the current government’s repeated references to the bank bombing in Ottawa as if it were a terrorist act is tantamount to self-serving sensationalism.

Parliamentary debate in which present government cites bank bombing as justification for spending $1 billion on G8 and G20 security:

Even if said bombing were tied to terrorists looking to derail the summit, one would still be hard pressed to explain why we are spending 30 times more than the Government in the UK did when London hosted the G20 summit in 2009. Or to put it into a more tangible context London, whose citizens have been subjected to real terrorist attacks, spent $30 million on security measures for the last G20 gathering while the previous host (Pittsburgh), spent what is by comparison to the Canadian Government’s present security tab, a pauper’s sum of $18 million. The Pittsburgh number alone undermines Minister John Baird’s direct reference to 9/11 as a means of illustrating the importance of security and therefore the measures that are being taken this year.

This of course brings us back to the hunting mosquitoes with cannons analogy.

Certainly the London-hosted summit was not without incident, as illustrated in the following news clip. However, it hardly justifies the grand canyon type chasm between the $30 million that was spent in 2009, and the $1 billion that is being spent today.

London G20 Summit (2009):

The real questions will start flying of course when, at the conclusion of this year’s summit(s), we look back and realize that like the hosts of a big party all that remains besides a few select memories will be the proverbial big mess to clean up the following morning. By the way, where are we relative to the bank tax question?

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