Parliament Hill rally
Musicians at rally
Public forum crowd
Public forum speakers
Council delivers petitions
Montebello update: Thousands protest, the police provoke as the Council puts the SPP on the map
August 24, 2007
Thousands of people took to Parliament Hill on Sunday and to the
streets of Montebello, Quebec on Monday and Tuesday. They came bearing
protest signs and petitions, some in costume, others bearing food for
hungry protesters. It was a colourful and creative crowd, unified by
their demand that the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America
be brought to the public and Parliament for a full debate. Whether it
was a group of Raging Grannies, union activists or university students,
the question on everyones lips was, whose security and prosperity is
the SPP protecting?
The Council of Canadians was on the ground, both in Ottawa and
Montebello, as U.S. President George Bush and Mexican President Felipe
Calderón met with Prime Minister Stephen Harper. We brought hundreds of
people together at a public forum
on Sunday evening, packing an auditorium at the University of Ottawa.
Maude Barlow, along with civil society representatives from the U.S.
and Mexico, condemned the SPP and promoted a vision of a more just and
sustainable North America.
We had of course originally planned to hold the forum in
Papineauville, Quebec, just 6 kilometres from where the leaders met on
Monday and Tuesday, but the RCMP forced the municipality to cancel our reservation
at the last minute. So we made due with a smaller room in Ottawa, and
unfortunately had to turn away at least 100 people on Sunday night, as
people stood and crouched in the aisles of the auditorium, hungry for
more information about the SPP and how to fight it. Visit www.canadians.org, to download audio and video footage from the forum.
Monday, we boarded the bus to Montebello, carrying more than 10,000
letters from Council of Canadians members, demanding a moratorium on
SPP negotiations and a debate with the public about its implications
for Canadians. We had originally negotiated with the RCMP to drop the
letters at the gates of the Chateau Montebello. But on Monday, we
received an email from the RCMP indicating that the Department of
Foreign Affairs was preventing us from delivering the letters to the
Instead, the Council of Canadians led a march of about 1,200 people
along the streets of Montebello. We parked our boxes of letters in
front of a line of security personnel in riot gear, and led the crowd
in a chant, No to the SPP. Yes to democracy! In doing so, we joined
with Council activists in 30 communities across Canada who participated
in our National Day of Action Against the SPP.
This weeks protests helped put the SPP on the political map in a
big way. All of the major political parties (with the exception of
Harpers Conservatives) have been critical of the SPP and the secrecy
behind it. And on Monday, the North American Competitiveness Council
the all-CEO advisory group that has been intimately involved in the
development of the SPP admitted that the legislatures of Canada, the
U.S. and Mexico should remain fully informed about progress and
actively engaged in the process of implementing the SPP. This is a far
cry from our call for public scrutiny and debate, but we see it as
recognition of the fact that citizens wont stand for secrecy around
the SPP anymore.
The Council of Canadians has also been front-and-centre in exposing
the Quebec provincial polices use of undercover provocateurs during
the protests in Montebello.
As you may have read in todays newspapers, the Sûreté du Québec has
finally admitted that their agents infiltrated Mondays demonstrations
in Montebello. This came after Nanaimo Council of Canadians activist
Paul Manly posted footage on YouTube
of a scuffle between union activist Dave Coles and three masked men,
one holding a rock. Manlys video shows that when a crowd of peaceful
activists suggested that the masked men were police provocateurs, they
quickly shoved themselves behind a line of riot police, and were
The video spread like wildfire, and soon after, a photo emerged,
demonstrating that the masked protesters were wearing the same kind
of boots as the riot police. Local activists kept close track of the
protesters who were arrested in Montebello, and demanded that the
police release the names of the three masked men, whose arrests have
not shown up on record, anywhere.
Yesterday afternoon, the Council of Canadians posted an Action Alert
on our website, demanding that Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Public
Safety Minister Stockwell Day get to the bottom of the controversy.
Within hours, the SQ made their confession.
We will continue
to follow this story in the coming weeks, demanding answers from the
Quebec police, who claim that their officers did not attempt to provoke
violence in Montebello. Manlys footage seems to suggest otherwise.
We recommend that you keep checking our website
daily, as we are constantly updating it with new information about the
SPP, the Montebello summit, and actions you can take in your community.
But in the meantime, here are some sights and sounds from Ottawa,
Montebello, and across Canada:
If youre still wondering what the SPP is all about, check out our brand-new report, Behind Closed Doors: What they're not telling us about the Security and Prosperity Partnership. We handed out more than 600 copies at our public forum on Sunday. We couldnt keep it on the shelf!
As Maude Barlow
said, The stakes are very high here. And we have the opportunity not
only to defeat something that is profoundly wrong for our peoples and
for the sustainability of our planet, but to promote something very,
Click here to join the Council of Canadians. Help us fight the SPP and stand up for a better and fairer North America.