Since the council elections have been finalized, the issue of closing Portage and
Main streets in Winnipeg to traffic seems to be on the back burner. I recall walking, sitting, eating and watching the world go by in European ‘piazzas’ where city dwellers could find some quiet. In Australia, I’ve seen community open spaces used for entertainment and peaceful demonstrations, which is a democratic right.
But when I reflect on the traffic free space of the Bourke Street Mall in Melbourne, where two terrorist attacks have occurred, where concrete barriers have been erected and police presence is so much more visible, I wonder how can people be kept safe. Many years ago, I returned to Bangkok for a third time, after a military coup had occurred that year.
A frantically busy city, there were soldiers on every corner, with machine guns in their hands, watching your every move. Even the Buddhist monks looked nervous, as they did their daily walk for offerings. I was saddened for the Thai people, who, from my experience, are a very gentle, peaceful race. The question now is, how do we balance democracy with security?