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Anti-Pan Am activists greet summit leaders at the Royal York Hotel

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Demonstrators held a blockade and a march Wednesday morning in front of the Royal York Hotel in downtown Toronto as a kick off to the Pan Am Games coming to the city on Friday. 

The demonstrators' main aim was to disrupt the Climate Summit of the Americas and the International Economic Forum of the Americas' Toronto Global Forum with creative methods such as stringing wool across the intersection of Front of York, one of the closest intersection to the hotel to prevent delegates from arriving. Two teams were dispatched to stop traffic at Wellington and Bay and Front and York.

These two Pan Am forums were dedicated to discussing such issues as climate and economy across North, Central and South America in advance of the Pan Am Games which begin today.

The demonstrators were asking Torontonians to rise up against a capitalist agenda that neglected human and environmental needs, for they feared these issues would get lost as profit and resource exploitation took front stage.

The three-day forum included speakers such as former U.S. vice president Al Gore and former Mexican president Felipe Calderon, but, according to demonstrators, any real community involvement or possiblity of community solutions was absent.

Other delegates that demonstrators had issues with were:

Shell's CEO, head of Precision Frac (leading Fracking Company), head of CAPP (Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers), and heads of major corporate Cap and Trade groups;

U.S., EU, Canada and Ontario Chambers of Commerce, Tony Clement, HSBC CEO, E.L. Rothschild, BNP Paribas, TD Group;

Head of OECD, David Johnson (Canada's Governor General), the Inter-American Development Bank, Felipe Calderon, John Negroponte;

Shimon Perez, Garda.

The group of about 100 demonstrators first gathered at 7:00 pm at Berczy park (Front Sreet and Church Street) before swarming their way through downtown to reach the hotel.

Of note, demonstrators focused on everything from how hosting the Pan Am Games diverted money that could have been used for affordable housing or to repair public housing to bringing to light the issue of illegal and dangerous mining practices; as well as environmentally destructive resource extraction practices such as our very own tar sands or Enbridge Line 9.

Following the demonstration at the Royal York Hotel, the march headed to city hall for a free breakfast and to discuss next steps. 

*Photo credit Graeme Bacque


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