Anti-G7 protesters, unions and environmentalists to crowd into Old Quebec
The Canadian Press
Published Saturday, June 9, 2018 9:23AM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, June 9, 2018 12:46PM EDT
QUEBEC -- Anti-G7 protesters, labour unions and environmental groups kicked off a full day of demonstrations Saturday, which will include a march through Quebec City's old quarter as well as a nighttime show featuring popular comedians.
Activists with global aid organization Oxfam donned giant heads of each of the seven G7 leaders and performed some theatre outside Quebec's provincial legislature building.
The seven "leaders," dressed in red-and-black plaid shirts, pretended to be on a relaxing camping trip while a giant ball representing the earth flamed in back of them, symbolizing the need for G7 countries meeting in Charlevoix to take climate change more seriously.
Later on, a handful of members of the African diaspora in Canada protested outside the legislature against the invitation to the G7 of Rwandan President Paul Kagame, whom they accuse of war crimes during the time he commanded the rebel army that ended the 1994 genocide.
Since Kagame took office in 2000, Human Rights Watch says those in the country who criticize his regime "have been arrested, disappeared, or killed."
"How can a leader like Kagame be invited here?" said Freddy Usabuwera, who fled Rwanda in 1997 to live in Quebec.
Shortly after, a couple of dozen people held Rwandan flags outside the international media centre in support of Kagame, saying they were proud of their president.
Activists are holding what they call an "alternative G7" outside the legislature early this afternoon, which will be followed by a large protest march that will include members of labour unions and at least one Quebec provincial politician, Amir Khadir from the left-wing Quebec solidaire.
Since Thursday, anti-G7 protesters have taken to the streets in a series of public stunts and actions, but their largely peaceful demonstrations have contrasted in grandeur with the millions of dollars spent on security for the summit.
The two-day meeting is nowhere near the protests, taking place about 140 kilometres to the northeast of Quebec City in the Charlevoix region. U.S. President Donald Trump left on Saturday morning, approximately 24 hours after he arrived.
At most, a few hundred people took part in the largest march so far, held Thursday night, which ended peacefully and with three people arrested.
The following day, a tense standoff between protesters and police on a road leading to the summit site of La Malbaie in the early morning also ended calmly.
Police chased small pockets of activists through the streets of Quebec City for the rest of the day on Friday, but aside from a few pieces of furniture set on fire in the street, the demonstrations were calm.
Amnesty International, along with a human rights advocacy group in Quebec, are leading an 44-person observer mission to monitor the protests.
Spokesperson Nicole Filion said observers have noticed some police carrying assault rifles, which she said could scare people out of exercising their right to protest. Observers also witnessed police pointing the weapons towards protesters and, at times, journalists.
"Our group spoke to the police about the assault rifles," she said in an interview. "They told us in this age of terrorism, they are needed to protect people.
"We don't think assault rifles are needed for crowd control."
Quebec City police said four men and two women were arrested Friday for participating in an illegal protest and for disrupting the work of an officer.
The protest actions are scheduled to culminate today with a comedy show at a community centre that will include popular performers Fred Dube and Guillaume Wagner.