The G8/G20 meetings in Toronto and Muskoka have come and gone. But their legacy will be around for many years. As will the memory of the shameful vandalism and thuggery performed by the Black Block who are simply petty criminals disguised as agents of change. There are two legacies that will fall out of the meetings. One to Canada and one to the world.
For Canada, its legacy will be one of hypocrisy. It was President Obama who wanted the group of countries to continue stimulating their economies although at the cost of ever increasing debt burdens or in the absence of borrowing to simply turn on the printing presses and keep the cash flowing. However, as much as President Obama wanted this to happen it was not to be. Prime Minister Harper and the rest of the fiscal conservatives won and austerity and deficit and debt reduction became the mantra.
That the meeting cost over $ 1 billion for security alone with the final and complete cost likely to never be known to Canadians is hypocrisy at its greatest. Prime Minister Harper fought for and won debt and deficit reduction at meetings Canada had to borrow to pay for. If ever there was a dreadfully clearer example of hypocrisy this was certainly it.
For the world the legacy is far more troubling. Having the wealthiest countries on the planet commit to debt and deficit reduction raises the potential for a deflationary cycle in the presence of a tepid recovery, large debt to GDP loads and very high deficit to GDP budget shortfalls. The parallels to the 1929 crash are becoming eerily similar. The initial fiscal stimulus simply delayed what was to come. While the time period is different, people have not changed and the austerity measures that eventually led to the Great Depression seem to have reappeared. Remember, it was not the initial fall of the stock market that caused the Great Depression, it was the actions of the next three years that did so.
So with the close of the meetings Canadians and citizens the world over will eventually feel the effects of a meeting that cost too much, accomplished far too little, and has simply become a prelude of things to come.