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CANADA 2002 Saturday, Feb. 4, 2006

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Hostage to the events of the week

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It's the money, dummy

And this guy's on our side

Activists range from knitters to UN envoys

By CHRISTINE BOYD, Globe and Mail Update

From revolutionary knitters to a former UN envoy, as many as 15,000 activists are expected to congregate in Calgary to protest the G8 Summit, while others stage events across the country.

The demonstrators - like the 100,000 who gathered to protest in Genoa, Italy, last July or the 25,000 who took to the streets of Quebec City last April - will represent a wide range of backgrounds, everyone from labour leaders to environmentalists, faith groups to human-rights organizations, peace groups and anarchists.

Although the diversity of their concerns defies easy categorization, one of the most common complaints is that the process of globalization has been too focused on the rights and economic successes of multinational corporations while eroding living standards, environmental safeguards, public and social programs, as well as workers' and human rights around the world.

The International Monetary Fund and World Bank's policies of liberalization, privatization and deregulation - supported by countries such as those in the G8 - have played a key role in increasing global inequity and deteriorating the environment, the critics charge.

Many of the protestors also feel G8 and other meetings between international bodies like the IMF and World Bank are undemocratic, allowing unelected bodies acting without public input to make decisions that affect the lives of millions.

Activists originally hoped to organize a "Solidarity Village," a site that could act as a focal point for activities as well as a place for protestors to sleep and eat, but eventually had to cancel their plans after a suitable site could not be found.

Even though the antiglobalization festival at Solidarity Village was cancelled, a number of events protesting the summit will take place in Calgary, across Canada and around the world, including:

  • The G6B Conference: An international conference offering alternative views on globalization, G6B conference (short for the "Group of Six Billion," the Earth's population) will take place June 21-25 on the University of Calgary campus. Between 500 and 1,000 people are expected to attend the event, which is being organized by an Alberta-based non-governmental organization, the International Society for Peace and Human Rights, with the help of other groups. The G6B will focus on the same topics as the G8 - global economics, Africa and counterterrorism. Stephen Lewis, the United Nation's special envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa and former Canadian ambassador to the UN, will be the G6B's keynote speaker on June 21.
  • Take the Capital: A two-day protest scheduled to take place in Ottawa June 26-27, which includes demonstrations, popular education, civil disobedience, direct action and a march from the U.S. embassy to Parliament Hill. The event is being supported by a long list of social justice and labour organizations, including CUPE, the New Democratic Party, Socialist Caucus (Ottawa), the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty, and the various provincial public interest groups.

While many activists are expected to travel to Calgary as individuals, and not as part of a group, organizations that are expected to send contingents include:

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