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Concerned about a loss of sovereignty to the U.S., protesters

demonstrate against the North American Security and Prosperity

Partnership summit, Aug. 20.

 

 

Le Devior, Canada

A Day of Protest and

Teargas at Prosperity

and Security Summit

 

"It will be a race to the bottom in order to please the United States and Mexico, as is now the case with pesticides in our food. The Americans will never subject themselves to our will, and we'll have to follow along like dogs."

 

-- Nicolas Laplante, 24-year-old food bank employee from Ottawa

 

By Alec Castonguay

 

Translated By Sandrine Ageorges

 

August 21, 2007

 

Canada - Le Devior - Original Article (French)

Tension ran high all day yesterday in the streets of the village of Montebello. While the heads of the Canadian, American and Mexican governments met far from the protesters, the police and demonstrators confronted one another outside the security perimeter. After several skirmishes, a spark finally started a fire at the end of the day. This is the account:

 

Montebello: It was 1pm when the Quebec police noted the first anomaly. Route 148 that connects Montreal to Gatineau while skirting the Outaouais River had just been closed to traffic. Just then, hundreds of demonstrators left the old station in the center of the village headed in the direction of the security perimeter protecting Montebello Castle, 1600 feet down the road.

 

At the head of a procession of students, union representatives, avowed anarchists and leaders from the Canadian left, representatives of The Council of Canadians wanted to deliver to the assembled heads of government a petition with 10,000 signatures of those who oppose the plans being laid at the North American Security and Prosperity Partnership summit. But the bundle of signed pages will never be received, because an anti-riot squad rapidly blocked the road to the demonstrators 80 feet from the main entrance through the imposing fence surrounding the castle. The face-to-face confrontation had begun.

 

In the midst of shouted slogans - "No to the PSP, Yes to democracy" … "The three Amigos" … "Is this our future? Wake up and protest!" - a man wearing a full suit and tie, sunglasses and a gold pin in the shape of Mexico visible on his jacket cleaves through the increasingly dense and agitated crowd. Gustavo Iruegas is Foreign Secretary of the "shadow government" of Mexico, a ghost cabinet set up by defeated presidential candidate Manuel Lopez Obrador, who doesn't recognize the victory of his rival and current Mexican President, Felipe Calderon. "This summit is very bad for Mexico," Gustavo Iruegas tells Le Devoir. "Mexico has no enemies, but in attaching itself to the United States, it will get some. And it isn't here, behind closed doors, that Mexico will resolve its problem with poverty."

 

Gustavo Iruegas shares the main fear of the 1500 demonstrators gathered in Montebello yesterday: The loss of sovereignty of the nations in the PSP.

 

"It will be a race to the bottom in order to please the United States and Mexico, as is now the case with pesticides in our food. The Americans will never subject themselves to our will, and we'll have to follow along like dogs," estimates 24-year-old Nicolas Laplante, who works for a food bank in Ottawa and who came to demonstrate with friends against this "secret" summit. "Why are presidents of multinational corporations heard and not us?" he adds, referring to the 30 CEO's of multinational corporations who were invited to the Montebello summit (10 from each country).

 

In the middle of the afternoon when buses carrying protesters from Toronto, Ottawa, Montréal and Guelph finally arrive at their final destination, the tension rises a notch along the police cordon. Young people wearing black, scarves over their faces, shields and sticks in hand and gas masks across their shoulders begin throwing rocks and bottles at the police. Above the demonstrators, police helicopters fill the air with a deafening noise. The dance music of the protesters is hardly audible.

 

FIRST TEARGAS GRENADES

 

It is 3:30 pm when police officers fire off the first teargas grenades. The demonstrators rush away in disorder. Those that succumb to tears find refuge several feet away in the arms of impromptu first-aid workers who sprinkle water into their burning eyes. Five minutes later, as though it were the undertow of a wave, protesters charge back. The SQ [Quebec Provincial Police or Sureté du Québec] and the RCM [Royal Canadian Mounted Police] again confront them face-to-face. The insults burst out. You could cut the tension with a knife.

 

For Amir Khadir, spokesman for the political organization Québec Solidarity [Québec Solidaire], the entire circus is "unworthy of a democracy."

 

"We're not entitled the slightest dissent without having to deal with anti-riot squads and police repression," he explained a few minutes before the trouble began.

 

A few feet away from the security perimeter sitting in the middle of the road, about 40 people, mostly young people, discuss the dangers of the Prosperity and Security Partnership.

 

"We should represent ourselves, because the politicians inside don't represent us," declares 22-year-old Kim Beaudoin, who initiated this spur-of-the-moment sit-in. "The police want a confrontation, which is why they have set up this perimeter. For us, it's more productive to talk than to bicker with them."

 

At 5:40pm, after several minor confrontations, the police and the most radical protesters decide to launch into another skirmish. A stone thrown at police lands with the force of a hurricane on embers and provokes a push by police, who gas the 1500 demonstrators without restraint. The protesters withdraw into the village.

 

BALANCE SHEET: Five police were slightly injured and four were arrested for disturbed the peace and obstruction and resisting arrest. At 7:30pm, Route 148 was open to traffic again, and the protesters headed home.

 

CLICK HERE FOR FRENCH VERSION

 


















































The 'Three Amigos': President Bush, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper (center), and Mexican President Felipe Calderon, after meeting in Canada for the North American Security and Prosperity Partnership summit, Aug. 21.

—CBC NEWS VIDEO: Canadian news coverage of the summit and the protests, August 21, 00:10:28WindowsVideo

Some of the scenes of protest at Montebello, Canada, Aug. 21 (Below).













[Toronto Star, Canada]