Monday, April 26, 2010


The notorious organized crime group, the G8 , is holding one of their regular plotting sessions this week in Halifax Nova Scotia, and Haligonians were out to protest their presence and actions. Here from the Halifax Media Co-op is what happened on Sunday.
Protesters Shame G8 Agenda
March and rally call for a new direction
by Hillary Bain Lindsay

G8 leaders are prioritizing profit over people and the environment, say protesters. The march and rally were high-energy and filled with music, chanting and dancing. Many participants were frustrated that the march was re-routed by police from the original route down Spring Garden Road. Photo: Hillary Lindsay
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Also in Environment:
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•UPDATE: NDP climate bill survives vote "We're going to beat back the G8 attack. We're going to beat, beat back, the G8 attack," sang more than 300 protesters as they flooded onto South Park Street in Halifax on Sunday. Marchers were demonstrating against the G8 development ministers' meeting taking place in Halifax this week.

"I'm repulsed by the fact that the G8 development ministers are meeting in my town," says protester Cole Webber. "They represent an agenda that's about profit making without any regard for human needs and I think they should be opposed vigorously."

The official agenda for the G8 development ministers' meeting, includes maternal and child health in developing countries as a top priority, but march organizer Kaley Kennedy balks at the claim. "Where are G8 leaders when the International Monetary Fund and World Bank force governments in poor countries to slash the social safety net, shifting more and more of the burden of care for the sick and dying on the women of the world?" she asks.

G8 countries account for only 14 per cent of the world's population but control the majority of the world's wealth and almost half the votes at the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The IMF has been accused of worsening poverty in developing countries with its Structural Adjustment Programs.

It's not only in the developing world where policies of G8 countries are worsening poverty, points out Fiona Traynor from Dalhousie Legal Aid. "We have a housing crisis in Nova Scotia," she says. "We have a lack of decent, affordable housing that's putting people at risk. When people spend too much on shelter, they can't afford to feed their families."

Traynor says people can't expect leaders of G8 countries to fix the problems they've created in the first place. "We have to come up with our own solutions and not wait for them to give us answers."

One of those solutions is strengthening local economies, says Tom Oommen, from Inverness County in Cape Breton. "Inverness County is one of the many victims of the global economy in Canada and around the world," he says. "The G8 are the overseers of the global economy.... What they want to have happen is killing rural Canada [and] destroying farmers.... A lot of the fisheries have collapsed now, and that's because of the global economy."

Oommen says people need to start supporting their local farmers, fishers, craftspeople and businesses; otherwise, local economies crumble and young people are forced to leave rural communities.

"What's happening is a lot of people who used to have work in the Maritime provinces are going to work in the Tar Sands," he says. Oommen sees the Tar Sands as a symbol of a global economic system that is destroying the environment.

Jada Voyageur lives downstream from the Tar Sands. "People in my community are dying of rare cancers," she says. Voyageur is a member of the Athabascan Chipewyan First Nation and was a guest speaker at the rally. "We live downstream from one of the most destructive projects on Earth and they keep approving more development."

The government has no right to approve new developments because the land is not theirs, says Simon Reece, Downstream Coordinator for the Keepers of the Athabasca, who was also a speaker at the rally. "It's our land," he says. "We're the ones that have been living here for thousands of years. We're getting encroached on again. Not just by Indian Affairs pushing us onto reserves but now by industry."

"It's economics," says Reece, explaining a global system that's destroying communities and the environment. "The economics of North America is failing the whole world."

That economic system has a name, asserts Kyle Buott President of the Halifax Dartmouth District Labour Council. Its name is capitalism. “Capitalism is not working for workers in Canada,” he says. “It’s not working for workers in the US. It’s not working for workers throughout the world.

The march and rally were high-energy and filled with music, chanting and dancing. Many participants were frustrated that the march was re-routed by police from the original route down Spring Garden Road. Instead, the march wound its way down the much less visible South Park Street and South Street.

"I would have liked to see us use our collective strength - having a couple hundred people here today - to take the march where we want it to go," says Webber who was disappointed by the decision to comply with police orders. "It's our march, we have the numbers to take the street."

Traynor was also angered by police intimidation, saying people have to stand up to police misconduct and to G8 leaders and their vision of the world.

"We have to turn it around," she told the crowd. "We have to tell them what we want."
The protests today were not as uneventful, but only one arrest resulted when police moved to clear the streets that demonstrators were blocking. Here's the story from the Canwest News Service.
N.S. woman arrested at Halifax G8 protest.

HALIFAX - A Nova Scotia woman was charged with assaulting a police officer after demonstrators blocked a Halifax street during a G8 protest Monday morning.

Toni Marie MacAfee, 35, allegedly struck an officer in the chest when he asked MacAfee to move to the sidewalk off Marginal Road, near the city's port, where demonstrators blocked traffic in both directions.

The Hammonds Plains, N.S., woman was arrested immediately after the incident and was scheduled to appear in court later Monday.

Monday marked the second straight day of G8 protests in Halifax, where G8 development ministers are meeting.

The meeting are scheduled to focus on child and maternal health and on access to water.

Labour groups complain the ministers are more concerned about bank bailouts than the growing gap between rich and poor during their three days of meetings, which began Monday.

Sunday's protests took place with no arrests.
It's not unexpected that the police and the lazier section of the media might attempt to portray the arrested union member as being at fault. Here's another item from the CBC that gives a different story from the perspective of eyewitness.
Halifax G8 protester charged with assault
Protesters gather in Halifax on Monday as a G8-sponsored meeting kicks off at Pier 21.
(Phonse Jessome/CBC)
A labour leader has been charged with assaulting a police officer after being arrested during a noisy anti-G8 demonstration in Halifax Monday morning.

About 40 people marched down Terminal Road to Pier 21, where development ministers from major industrial countries are set to meet.

Two officers struggled with a woman when police tried to move the demonstrators to a sidewalk to clear the road, said CBC reporter Phonse Jessome.

Laurie Stacy, a protester who was standing nearby, said the heavy-handed treatment was unnecessary.

"They had asked her just to move. We said we were moving, but they didn't give her enough time. The cop in charge grabbed her by her shoulder and started squeezing and just looked at her with pure hate," said Stacy.

"She told them, 'Let go of me.' They didn't. The next thing you know three of them were on top of her on the ground."

The arresting officer told CBC News that the protester pushed him.

Protest organizers identified the demonstrator as Toni MacAfee, an education officer with the Canadian Union of Postal Workers.

"It was unprovoked," organizer Kyle Buott said of MacAfee's arrest.

Bev Oda, Canada's minister of international co-operation, will kick off the G8 meeting Tuesday. The main issue is how to improve the health of the world's poorest mothers and children.

More than 200 people took part in a peaceful demonstration in Halifax on Sunday. There were no incidents and no one was arrested.

A protest organizer said G8 policies back free trade but not freedom for women.

Read more:
Here, from the Halifax Chronicle Herald is considerably more detail, both about the arrest and the protest in general.
Cops charge union leader at G-8 protest


Aid agencies are under pres­sure to show donor countries that their money really works in developing countries. Here are some facts, published last week by the World Bank, about the percentage of populations living on less than $1.25 a day: East Asia and the Pacific : In 1990, 54.7 per cent lived on less than $1.25 a day. In 2005, it was about 16.8 per cent. By 2015, the World Bank fore­casts 5.9 per cent.

China : 60.2 per cent in 1990; 15.9 per cent in 2005; 5.1 per cent by 2015.

Latin America : 11.3 per cent in 1990; 8.2 per cent in 2005; 5.0 per cent in 2015.

South Asia : 51.7 per cent in 1990; 40.3 per cent in 2005; 22.8 per cent in 2015.

Sub-Saharan Africa : 57.6 per cent in 1990; 50.9 per cent in 2005; 38.0 per cent in 2015.

An Atlantic union leader has been charged with assaulting a police officer during a protest of the G-8 development ministers' meetings in Halifax.

Union leaders say Toni MacAfee, education and organization officer for the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, was arrested behind the Westin Nova Scotian Hotel shortly after 8 a.m.

Halifax Regional Police confirmed this afternoon that MacAfee of Hammonds Plains was charged in the protest.

Police allege that officers asked protesters three times to move off Marginal Road in downtown Halifax because they were blocking traffic. When some of the group didn't move, police stepped in, according to a police news release.

When an officer asked a woman to move, police allege she struck him in the chest, the news release says.

MacAfee, 35, was arraigned in Halifax provincial court Monday afternoon.

She was released on a recognizance after agreeing not to go within 50 metres of the Westin Nova Scotian hotel or Pier 21 or be involved in any further G8 protests. She returns to court May 26.

"It's certainly a drummed up charge," said Jeff Callaghan, the union's Atlantic director.

He was at the opposite side of the driveway behind the Hollis Street hotel when MacAfee was arrested at what he called a peaceful demonstration.

"When the cops grabbed her, she was actually two centimetres from a curb, so it wasn't a matter of blocking traffic," Callaghan said.

"They actually reached out and grabbed her and pulled her back — pulled her towards the street. There are lots of witnesses who saw it and we have the whole thing on tape."

Callaghan, who was on his way to the Gottingen Street police station to find MacAfee at the time of the interview, saw the "tail end" of the arrest.

He saw photos that showed MacAfee with her hands pinned behind her back and "three, large, male police officers" on top of her. He was told that "she wasn't resisting or anything."

During the protest, Callaghan said officers "were pushing people" and one cop reached into the crowd and grabbed his flag.

"They were just anxious to make some sort of arrest," he said.

Palmeter said police have made "painstaking efforts to work with these groups to ensure that their right to a peaceful protest is provided. However, if they are in violation, we are duty bound to respond and take some action. If required, then an arrest will be made."

The protest began at about 7 a.m. as more than 50 people from labour and community groups marched from Cornwallis Park toward Pier 21 on Marginal Road, leading to the G-8 development ministers' conference.

The Canadian labour groups were there to support the demands of their international partners, who are lobbying for funding for maternal programs, HIV and AIDS prevention and for healthcare for all , Tony Tracy of the Canadian Labour Congress said.

"Toni MacAfee is well-respected, well-regarded by all within the labour movement throughout Atlantic Canada and is someone who is looked up to in the trade union and community organizations with which she has been very active for many years," Tracy, the group's Atlantic representative, said.

The Canadian Union of Postal Workers web site states that MacAfee attended the Canadian Peace Conference held in Toronto in December 2008; the World Social Forum in Brazil in January 2009 and the March on Gaza in Cairo, Egypt from December 2009 to January 2010.

The purpose of the CUPW's delegation was Cairo was, in part, "to support the struggle of Palestinian people for justice (and) to make links with other activists."

MacAfee "knows what her lawful rights are and that she's not to be provocative or anything back," Callaghan said.

As far as he knows, she's never been arrested at any other rally, including the Gaza March, which had a heavy police presence.

On Sunday, about 300 people turned out for demonstrations against G-8 economic policies.

Environmental, labour, social justice and student groups banded together to form the G8 Welcoming Committee.

"Civil society is always excluded from these meetings," Kyle Buott, a protest organizer who is also part of the Halifax-Dartmouth and District Labour Council, said in an interview.

"That’s a big problem."

Buott said he believes there is an alternative to having the world’s eight wealthiest countries set policies that affect everyone else. He accused the G8 of bearing responsibility for the global financial crisis by backing unfair trade, bank deregulation and layoffs.

"We are opposed to the G8 as an overall body," he said.

"The G8 policies have caused the economic crisis that has ruined the lives of so many people."

The protesters massed at Victoria Park on Spring Garden Road before marching through the downtown streets to Cornwallis Park, across from the Westin Nova Scotian hotel.

They followed a banner reading Capitalism Isn’t Working For Workers and were accompanied by people chanting protest slogans, banging on drums, shaking tambourines and spinning hula hoops.

Dozens of police in marked and unmarked vehicles, on foot and on horseback, escorted the protesters down South Park and South streets. At one point, two officers on horseback struggled to control their skittish animals — one horse banged into and kicked a parked Honda Civic. Protesters, some of whom were dressed in black hoodies and wore handkerchiefs over their faces, jeered loudly and waved flags in officers’ faces. Police grabbed one of the flags.

"The police have made some errors on this march as far as going into the march and taking people’s things," Buott said. "That always poses problems."

Otherwise, the demonstration was largely successful and without conflict, he said. Police agreed, reporting that there were no arrests or confrontations.

David Bush, another protest organizer with the Canadian Youth Climate Coalition, was pleased with the protest yet critical of officers for changing the planned route at the last minute, keeping them away from the storefronts of pedestrian-heavy Spring Garden Road.

"It was just surprising that we couldn’t go down Spring Garden," Bush said.

"We wanted it to be family friendly and safe and it turned out to be that way. But there just seemed to be undue pressure from the police.

"We had a very good, positive energy. But the way the police acted just seemed a little unwarranted."

Development ministers from the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and Canada, as well as representatives of the European Union, meet today until Wednesday to draft proposals for the G8 Summit in Huntsville, Ont., in June.

The Halifax sessions will include Canada’s initiative to improve maternal and child health in poor countries. About 350,000 to 500,000 women die while giving birth every year and about nine million children under the age of five die every year.

"I look forward to welcoming my G8 colleagues to Canada," Bev Oda, the federal minister of international co-operation, said in an earlier news release.

"I believe that by working together, G8 countries can make major advancements in reducing maternal and child mortality, humanitarian goals that must be advanced, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa."

Catherine Abreu of the Nova Scotia Coalition for Climate Action said she is disappointed the ministers won’t be discussing global warming.

"Climate change is a phenomenon that’s really affecting the well-being of mothers."

Megan Leslie, the NDP MP for Halifax, participated in the march and said protests can have an impact on the agenda of such meetings.

"I really support the fact that (the) community is coming together to say, ‘We want these issues at the table. We want to talk about the real way to deal with maternal and newborn health.’

"It’s important voices are strong and voices are heard."

She cited as an example Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s initial intent to exclude family planning from the G8 maternal health agenda, which resulted in widespread criticism and Ottawa backtracking.

"They backed down," Leslie said.

"So it is really important that civil society, the community, come forward and demand certain things."

James Holloway, 29, of Halifax, attended the protest clad only in white shorts resembling a diaper and a sash across his chest that bore the phrase Colonize Mine.

He said the message was referring to corporations pushing specific body images to profit from making people feel bad.

"I felt like this might be an opportunity for me to connect with my community and learn about other people’s struggles.

"To me, colonization means forcing something on people."

Earlier in the afternoon, advocates for World Vision Canada, a Christian relief organization, arranged baby strollers, cribs and toys that were painted white in the shape of the number five on the Halifax waterfront. The intent was to highlight the roughly nine million children under the age of five who die every year of preventable causes such as malaria or pneumonia.

"We know what the solutions are," spokeswoman Caroline Riseboro said.

"The solutions cost pennies, so really it’s a matter of political will."

The group is calling on Canada to contribute $1 billion for the cause to provide things like antibiotics and mosquito nets for people in developing countries.

The police had hoped to take a different approach to this protest and last week unveiled information cards they intended to distribute among demonstrators to advise them of their rights.

They were hoping to deter some of the fiery protests that have broken out at previous meetings of world leaders in Halifax when demonstrators clashed with officers in riot gear who doused people with pepper spray.
Meanwhile events in Halifax are being watched closely by both sides of the protest divide as they get ready for the upcoming G-20 meeting in Toronto this June. Here's a story from the group 'G-20 Toronto Mobilize' (originally from the Globe and Mail) about what both sides are expecting a couple of months from now. What strikes Molly is the police plan to use a gigantic film set as a detention centre for possible arrestees. I wonder what sort of movies they make there ?
Protesters and police get ready to square off at G20 summit
Anna Mehler Paperny

They’re preparing buses, itineraries, bathrooms and places to crash for the night; they’re fundraising, holding media-training workshops and setting up a detailed, week-long schedule of events.

Organizers behind the protests surrounding Toronto’s G20 summit in June expect people to come from as far as Vancouver, Quebec City and the United States, representing everyone from labour groups to women’s shelters and militant students.

The summit’s integrated security unit is bracing for an influx of protesters, with tenders put out for thousands of police officers from across Ontario and the country. They’ve taking possession of one of the largest film sets in North America to use as a staging ground and potentially as a place to keep detained protesters.

At the same time, the protesters have plans of their own – from dance parties to a People’s Summit, marches and so-called Black Bloc tactics, that include confrontational methods that became notorious a decade ago.

The force and intent of the planned opposition brings to mind 2001 in Quebec City and 1999 in Seattle, where demonstrations erupted in violence, with tear gas being fired on masked protesters.

“ I think for the most part, people are planning on protesting peacefully during that time. Obviously, from a security perspective, we’re planning for any eventuality. ”— Meaghan Gray, Toronto police G20 planning team

But Syed Hussan, a spokesman for the Toronto Community Mobilization Network, said this year’s summit won’t be a repeat of Seattle.

“It’s been 10 years,” he said. “We grow up. We come up with new tactics. We learn new strategies. We’re going to talk about a scale that might be as big or bigger, but it’s not the same tools. I mean, this was before Facebook. ... We can tweet.”

Mr. Hussan said the advent of social media gives protesters many more options.

The mobilization network Mr. Hussan represents is liaising with groups across Toronto, Canada and elsewhere, attempting to co-ordinate the protest actions of dozens of divergent interests – and trying to find a place to put them all.

He refuses to even estimate how many people are coming – although it’s likely in the thousands – or how much it will cost to feed them, house them and equip them with signs and media spokespeople.

A group of law students is providing pro bono legal services, and has volunteered to monitor protests as observers and, if necessary, help bail out protesters. Legal updates will be sent throughout the week, Mr. Hussan said, as well as tweets.

Mr. Hussan emphasizes much is still in the planning stage, and he’s not sure what, exactly, will come of the numerous days of action protesters plan.

Will things get violent? “It’s up to the cops,” he said. “You put 15,000 people on the streets armed with tear gas, sonar cannons, right? I assure you, none of us has a sonar cannon. Nobody has a taser.”

Councillor Adam Vaughan, in whose Trinity-Spadina ward the summit and much of the surrounding demonstrations will take place, says he hasn’t been in touch with protest planners.

“These events attract a lot of people. I’m hopeful that when folks come to talk about the global economy, no one trashes the local one ... and that whatever sort of disturbances there are, it doesn’t require imprisonment.

“My job is to make sure my residents and my businesses are talked to and given as much information as possible. ... That’s really my focus.”

Meaghan Gray, with the Toronto police force’s G20 planning team, said police have been in touch with groups like the Toronto Community Mobilization Network, although she wouldn’t elaborate on the nature of their interactions.

“I think for the most part, people are planning on protesting peacefully during that time. Obviously, from a security perspective, we’re planning for any eventuality,” she said. “We want to co-operate with protest groups that are intending to protest peacefully. ... Not everybody is as willing to participate in that process.”

Paul-Émile Auger was only 13 years old when Quebec City protesters and police took over his Old Quebec neighbourhood during the summit in 2001.

“I had no choice but to get interested in what was going on – I mean when there’s riot police and people running, this was like a battlefield in my backyard,” he said. And he’s been hooked ever since.

He’s part of a small group of people planning to make the trip from Laval – mostly sociology students like him from Laval University. He suspects they’d be able to fit in a borrowed van, as opposed to Rage, a far larger group coming from Montreal, which he said will likely require three or four buses.

Mr. Auger’s group is trying to send a message, rather than incite violence. But “to make a stand,” he says, they have to try to get behind the security fence.

“What we want is to confront, to get a message across,” he said. “Personally, I don’t want this to be violent. But I know that often when there are calls for Black Bloc formation or other street tactics, this is often a sign of an escalation and of much more violence.”

1 comment:

Larry Gambone said...

Its the usual racket. Anyone who thinks a woman - a union official no less - is going to hit a cop is on some kind of weird drug.