The evening of June 7 on the eve of the G7 Summit in La Malbaie, several hundred people took to the streets of Quebec City to firmly declare that the G7 does not represent us. The action was organized by the Anti-G7 Resistance Network, the Regroupement d’éducation populaire en action communautaire des regions de Québec et Chaudière-Appalaches (RÉPAC), the Comité populaire Saint-Jean-Baptiste, Eau Secours and Ni Québec, ni Canada: projet anticolonial. These community groups defend the most vulnerable from the anti-social austerity agenda, including people on welfare and the working poor; defend immigrants and refugees, demanding legal status for all and opposing deportations; fight for social housing, the environment and stand with Indigenous peoples.
The theme running through all the interventions and the demonstration was that the G7 does not represent us; it represents capitalism and its most oppressive, colonialist and militarist features, under the cover of pretty phrases. “With the G7, the militarists speak of peace, the misogynists speak of women’s equality, and the capitalists speak of the environment,” said a representative of the Anti-G7 Resistance Network.
The RÉPAC representative said that this action brought together people from all walks of life, active on various fronts, who came to deliver a message of unity against the G7. She said that people are refusing to gather in what the ruling elite and its police forces have decreed the “free expression” space, a fenced-in area at La Malbaie. She said that people are going to protest in the streets, in full view of everyone.
An Innu activist then welcomed everyone to what she said are Innu, Algonquin, Cree, Atikamekw and other lands known as Quebec. She said the G7 is pursuing the colonialist and genocidal undertaking against Indigenous peoples that has been ongoing since colonization. She specifically denounced the “strategy of extinguishing Aboriginal hereditary rights and Aboriginal title” that is being pursued today. She said that from missionary times, to Indian reserves, to today’s reconciliation, it is the goals of the colonizers that are served, to the detriment of Indigenous peoples’ hereditary and treaty rights and at the expense of Mother Earth. She denounced the efforts of the G7 countries to take over even more Indigenous territories by buying off Indigenous leaders and making them believe that First Nations’ place is at the table, while their peoples’ rights are being suppressed.
A representative of the Anti-G7 Resistance Network dealt briefly with the five themes proposed by the Trudeau government for the G7 Summit, highlighting the blatant contradiction between the nice sounding phrases and what is actually going on. With respect to the Trudeau government’s claim that the G7 is “building a more peaceful and secure world,” he pointed out that people in their millions are being forced out of their homes and countries by the wars in which the G7 countries are involved and then deprived of rights when the G7 countries receive them as refugees and immigrants. He denounced the arms sales by G7 countries around the world as a way of making private investments secure.
Other speakers also addressed how the G7 does not represent us.
Participants then marched through the very busy streets of downtown Quebec City. Passers-by waved in support of the action while some people on their balconies banged pots and pans, a reminder of the students’ militant struggle in 2012. At one point, in front of a federal government building, federal public servants, members of the Public Service Alliance of Canada, walked out with their flags and signs in support of the demonstrators. For about an hour and a half, the marchers chanted slogans against the G7, capitalism and colonialism, the omnipresent police deployment in the city, deportations and other attacks on the people and called for status for all.
Police were everywhere, heavily armed and in full riot gear, often with dogs, looking like the Robocop of U.S. movies. Some followed the protesters while others were stationed in front of official buildings. At least three arrests were made during the protest, according to media reports the following day for “uttering threats,” although what the protesters saw with their own eyes were young people being kidnapped from the demonstration, grabbed by the police and forced into police cars. The protesters vigorously denounced the arrests but made sure they stayed together as a group and continued the march.
(Photos: I. Lévesque, l’activiste, R.M. Mehreen)
TML Weekly, June 9, 2018 – No. 22
Citizens of La Malbaie say NO! to G7
La Malbaie area community groups, including Centre-Femmes aux Plurielles and Groupe Action Jeunesse de Charlevoix, organized a march June 3 to oppose the holding of the G7 Summit in their region. Part of their action included forming a human chain along the fence surrounding the “free expression zone.”
In an interview, organizers highlighted the importance of the action as a means to express their opposition to the anti-democratic character of the G7, the consequences of the anti-social policies of G7 member countries for their peoples, as well as the danger of war they represent. A representative from Centre-Femmes aux Plurielles also pointed out that the vast sums of money being injected into the holding of the G7 for purposes of political repression and to limit the right to peaceful protest should have been invested in social programs.
During the action, citizens expressed their anger at the occupation of their region by heads of state and their police powers. They noted, in particular, that authorization permits have been required since Monday, June 4 for 800 residents and workers from the community’s population of 8,000; that farmers are prohibited from spreading fertilizer during the Summit, and the all-pervasive police presence in their streets, waterways and air space.
Speaking about all the measures that have been taken in the name of security, in particular the huge 3.7 kilometre-long, 3.5 metre-high fence surrounding the Summit area, one participant told the press: “As day by day, little by little we saw it being erected, more and more we feel walled up, cornered, we have no freedom of action […]. This creates stress, anxiety.”
Many organizations and participants said they would join actions in Quebec City to continue to let it be known that the G7 is not welcome in Quebec.
(Photos: CIHOFM, Centre-Femmes aux plurielles,Comité populaire Saint-Jean Baptiste, @TheTocsin)