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(en) Canada, Ottawa, MEDIA still take us seriously: Protests Look Muted, Stymied at Qatar and Ottawa

From Clore Daniel C <clore@columbia-center.org>
Date Thu, 8 Nov 2001 08:25:42 -0500 (EST)


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By Reuters
OTTAWA — The roving forces of antiglobalization protesters,
subdued by the Sept. 11 attacks and stymied by logistics,
look likely to be less disruptive at international meetings
this month than in the past. 

In the past few years, from World Trade Organization (WTO)
talks in Seattle to the annual G8 summits of leading
industrialized countries, activists have increasingly
hampered discussions on world trade and finance. 

But this month activists must divide their attention between
the Nov. 9-13 WTO meetings in remote and tightly controlled
Qatar and the hastily arranged talks in Ottawa just a few
days later of the G20, the International Monetary Fund
(IMF), and the World Bank. 

Added to the geographical difficulties, dissenters realize
that in the battle for public opinion, they need to be
cautious about just how hard-hitting they are after the
attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. "We have
to be much more careful in the words we use," said Ken
Georgetti, president of the 2.5-million-strong Canadian
Labor Congress, a strong opponent of what it calls "the
corporate-driven globalization process." He said, "We'll be
probably blaming the Americans less than we normally would
for trade problems." 

His labor group swelled the numbers of protesters at a trade
summit in fence-ringed Quebec City last April, but where and
how it will protest this month exemplifies the dilemma
facing the anticorporate movement. 

Georgetti will call his members to an anti-WTO protest in
Ottawa on Nov. 9, coordinated with similar protests around
the world. But these events pose no threat to the meeting in
Qatar, half a world away, bordering the even-more-closed
Saudi Arabia. He said the group did not plan any activities
for the Nov. 16-18 weekend in Ottawa. 

It is not to say there will be no demonstrations that
weekend. Anti-war protests had already been planned for
Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Nov. 18, before Canadian
Finance Minister Paul Martin decided late last month to
switch the G20/IMF meetings to Ottawa after New Delhi backed
out. 

And a few calls have gone out on the Internet to converge on
Ottawa. One is from a shadowy group calling itself the Black
Touta and advocating a shut-down of the talks. Black Touta
posted a message that starts by urging "all anarchists,
anti-authoritarians, and militant revolutionaries to protest
the IMF, World Bank, G20 and the 'war on terrorism' in
Ottawa from Nov. 16 to 18." 

"Now everyone is too shy or too scared to voice personal
opinion in (out of) fear of offending American patriotism,"
it said. "Don't let the 'war' discourage you from coming to
Ottawa." 

But other groups, for example, the Council of Canadians,
which took a prominent role in Quebec City, are focusing for
now on Nov. 9 and still have not decided what to do about
the following weekend in Ottawa. 

The demonstrators who attend such meetings represent a wide
array of dissent but the overarching theme is that the poor
countries as well as the poor in the rich countries get left
behind as trade barriers fall and capitalism advances. 

Martin and other financial leaders counter that the very
raison d'etre of groups like the G20, representing both
developed and developing countries, is to look after the
interests of the poorer nations. 

The advocacy groups also call for more democracy and
openness in the negotiations, to which governments reply
that most ministers attending such meetings in fact are
elected or represent elected figures. 

Police are busily preparing both for demonstrators and for
protection against any attacks related to Osama bin Laden,
the suspected mastermind of the Sept. 11 strikes. Early
indications are they may not have to mount the massive
security operation required in Quebec City or at the G8
summit in Genoa, Italy, in July. 

"Since Sept. 11 security has been tight, and it will remain
tight, and you have to understand it's a major meeting," one
police officer said. But the officer added, "We hope it's
not going to be like Quebec City. We don't think it will
be."


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