G8: Lost tourists or powerful leaders?

It seems that Canada is not done with hosting big tent, government organizing bodies like the G8 and the G20. The 36th G-8 summit was held in Huntsville, Ontario from June 25 to 26, 2010, and now we learn that the next G-8 summit will be held in Quebec.

The 36th summit was the fifth G-8 Summit hosted by Canada since 1976, the previous four being at Montebello, Quebec (1981); Toronto, Ontario (1988); Halifax, Nova Scotia (1995); and Kananaskis, Alberta (2002). The Canadian government picked Huntsville, a small town of 20,000, to host the annual summit and core meetings.

The 2010 meetings took place at the Deerhurst Resort in Huntsville. Facilities were built to ensure security and to handle the expected influx of media, protesters and others. Muskoka was deemed too small, though, and a Toronto venue for the G-20 summit was adopted to run just after the G-8 meetings finished.

Canada will be again hosting the G-8 meeting, this time in the province of Quebec. The Canadian Press has learned of two different locations, a remote luxury resort in the Charlevoix region of Quebec or the town of La Malbaie, 150 kilometres northeast of Quebec City.

The location harkens back to Kananaskis, Alberta of 2002, where demonstrators had a hard time accessing the meetings because of the event’s remoteness. There were a variety of plans to reach the location, everything from unions pooling their money to buy out the seats of entire airplanes to long caravans of cars and ATVs.

At rabble.ca, the idea of an Ewok Army was humourously bantered about during staff meetings and anarchists roasted the major unions about the plane-renting scheme, though they were quickly to double back on the plan (or, call it a hoax). Hoax or not, I was asked if I would be willing to buy a ticket as the seats were to be sold back to activists at a steep discount before the whole idea was scrapped all together.

If politicians and police have their way, the trend seems to be the more remote the location, the better. Democracy be damned, we can watch democracy in action on TV, which will most likely be drawn from TV pool footage.

The supposed remoteness was one of the reasons why Huntsville, Ontario, was chosen for the G-8 Summit, including an emphasis on lounging on Muskoka chairs while staring out over lakes into the lush forests and away from the prying eye of any organization or citizen that could not get media clearance.

In 2010, Toronto was simply chosen to host the G-20 meetings because Huntsville and the surrounding area was simply too small to host all the participating nations’ delegates, support staff and media, including the extra employees needed, police officers and secret service agents.

The Toronto demonstrations during that weekend ended up with the dubious distinction of being the largest mass arrest in Canadian history. I’m not sure if any lessons have been learned since then that can be carried forward to the G-7 in 2018, but we shall see.

For a while now, activist chatter has been that more and more remote locations are being chosen for just such meetings, and while it’s not like someone can call up CSIS and ask if this is the case, thinking from Donald Trump’s point of view, I can see he and his wife being in favour of such more intimate and protected locations.

I can also see this also to be true for European leaders who have been honestly rattled by the spate of terrorist acts that have occurred on their turf. And just because Trudeau marched in the front of Canada’s largest Pride parade on the weekend doesn’t make him immune to his critics and the citizen/media glare.

Being aware of heightened security concerns on the other hand is no excuse for hiding from the people who have democratically elected you, just as it’s unfair to assume that every demonstrator is a potential terrorist. I’ve already read one blog where such an assumption has been made. This tactic only works to criminalizes dissent — and we most definitely saw this phenomenom at play during the G-20 with the over 1,000 arrests and detentions at the now infamous Eastern Avenue Detention Centre. World leaders hiding away in remote locations at the expense of democracy is a slippery slope, just as referring to every demonstrator as a “domestic terrorist” is.

Hopefully soon we will have a confirmed location as to the exact small town which will be hosting the upcoming meetings. That said, we can use what we already know to start organizing things like a media centre from our end. And just as with the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) in April 2011, Quebec City with all its infrastructure will be the closest hub.

Now, the French have their own unique style of organizing, but there will be plenty of room for university billeting, media centers and Anarchist Bookfairs to start organizing towards, as well affinity group organizing and skill sharing platforms to develop.

So let’s get to it.

Image: Flickr/Oxfam International

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Krystalline Kraus

krystalline kraus is an intrepid explorer and reporter from Toronto, Canada. A veteran activist and journalist for rabble.ca, she needs no aviator goggles, gas mask or red cape but proceeds fearlessly...