Volume 94, Issue 93

Friday, March 16, 2001


Atrium protest disrupts Israel Day

FTAA protesters get ready for summit

Homeless get funding

Teachers oppose criminal checks

Third meningitis scare lands boy in hospital

Crush the octogenarian uprising!


Corroded Disorder

FTAA protesters get ready for summit

By Chris Lackner
Gazette Staff

The anti-globalization drums are beating as activists put their finishing touches on the upcoming People's Summit in Quebec City, which is scheduled to coincide with negotiations for the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas (FTAA).

Karine Rainville, an executive co-ordinator for Common Frontiers, a coalition group that examines globalization issues and has been acting as a prime organizer of the People's Summit, said the event will bring together activists from across North and South America.

"It's a process of coming together and exposing the darker side of economic integration," she said, adding interest groups in attendance will include those concerned with the environment, poverty, human rights, labour issues, women's rights and education.

The FTAA conference is scheduled to take place between Apr. 16-21, and will feature comprehensive trade negotiations between the leaders of 34 countries.

She said the People's Summit has hired multiple translators for their events in order to bring their message to all international participants, as well as financial support to ease the burden of travelling costs for some of the poorer delegates from the Southern hemisphere.

"We need to get the government to put these issues on the agenda," she said. "Globalization is not a fact of life; there are many alternatives. This is becoming a major movement and at some point the [government's] going to have to listen."

Rainville said she and other protesters are concerned about the potential for violence at the FTAA protest. "We want to be a strong voice, but a non-violent one. It hopefully won't be another Windsor or Seattle."

Sgt. Normand Houle, a spokesperson for the Summit of Americas security division, said he was not expecting trouble from the people in attendance at the People's Summit. "These people are responsible," he said. "They are there to express their view."

Houle said security was more concerned with anarchist groups who may be intending to violently disturb the FTAA negotiations.

Erin George, Ontario chairperson for the Canadian Federation of Students, said CFS is a coalition partner with Common Frontiers and is doing an education forum at the summit on Apr. 18. CFS will also take part in the summit march against the FTAA, planned for Apr. 20.

She said CFS, along with its main coalition partners, is also organizing a three-day camp in Toronto this weekend to teach civil disobedience tactics to people who will be attending the Quebec protests.

"We don't want things to go in a [violent] direction," she said, adding the protesters need to be prepared in the basics of legal, and medical training. "We need to take care of each other."

Natalie Dubue, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, said the FTAA negotiations are based upon countries working together effectively on the political and economic front, noting the agreement would see tariff reductions, an elimination of export subsidies, and a renewed opportunity to access services. "Health and education are not open for negotiation," she said.

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