CALGARY, Canada -- While preparation for the Rocky Mountain G8 summit in June 2002 inches forward, anti-globalization protesters say they may not show up for the event given its remote location and the heightened state of security in Canada.
With a heightened awareness of security not seen in decades by Canadians, including a new anti-terrorism bill being rushed through Parliament, protest organizers say their tactics may have to change.
"We have to plan week by week, things are changing that fast," said Alan Keane, of the Co-Motion Collective, a British Columbia-based group that trains people for peaceful protest.
"There's a possibility we'll have to fundamentally change the way we protest have demonstrations across the country. I don't think we're going to play by their rules anymore."
Leaders of the Group of Eight -- comprised of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States, as well as representatives of the European Union -- are scheduled to meet June 26-28, 2002, in Kananaskis, Alberta. The small resort hotel village lies about 100 kilometers (62 miles) west of here in the Rocky Mountains.
Keane criticized the Canadian government for laying the groundwork to erode personal freedoms with its new anti-terrorism bill.
"Potentially people on the street in Quebec City (at the Summit of the Americas) could have been charged with terrorism under the draft legislation. It's a very oppressive act," Keane stressed.
"I'm afraid they will not allow people to have dissenting voices in and around Kananaskis. They'll probably shut down the whole area. That's unacceptable. The ability to have dissent and to voice that in a constructive way is the basis for our democracy."
John Klassen, executive director of the summit management group, says organizers want to work with demonstrators to provide a venue where peaceful protests can be held.
"We respect the right to demonstrate peacefully and we want to ensure the safety of citizens, demonstrators and property."
Klassen said "1,001 details" continue to be worked on, and "there is absolutely no consideration of canceling, postponing or rescheduling the summit."
"I think what we're seeing in the world is a good example of why it's valuable for these leaders to get together and discuss global issues.
"Although terrorism is on everybody's mind, the G8 process deals with a much broader range of issues, like education, medicine, and economic development," he said.
Royal Canadian Mounted Police Corporal Patrick Webb says preparation for summit security is in overdrive.
"Planning for this kind of event normally takes about two years. We have 10 months."
Webb, who declined to discuss details about preparations underway, says there are about 50 people designing logistics for motorcades, protecting each world leader and mapping out security for the vast rugged terrain surrounding Kananaskis Village.
Security organizers have yet to order much of the special equipment they will need, such as gas masks, riot gear and public-order vehicles.
The Government of Alberta and the City of Calgary have both said they will ensure the federal government pays for all costs associated with the summit.
While many have questioned whether or not a summit should be held, new Calgary mayor David Bronconnier said he thinks the summit should go on and Calgary and its police service will be ready to play their parts.
"We have to ensure Calgarians are safe and our city is protected," Bronconnier said after being sworn in as Calgary's mayor late Monday.
"Calgarians will be safe and ready to serve if we're called upon for the summit which we know is going to take place in less than 10 months time."
Bronconnier said he expects to have "some very hard-nosed discussions with the federal government as it relates to the extraordinary costs of hosting this event."
Copyright © 2001 AFP