President George W. Bush (R) and Mexican President Felipe Calderon
shake hands during a bilateral meeting at the Fairmont Le Chateau
Montebello in Montebello, Quebec. Thousands of protestors on Monday
clashed with riot police at the venue near Ottawa, decrying a summit of
North American leaders on bolstering security and economic
MONTEBELLO, Canada (AFP) - Thousands of protestors on Monday clashed
with riot police at this log cabin inn near Ottawa, decrying a summit of North
American leaders on bolstering security and economic ties.
With bursts of drums and kazoos, demonstrators taunted host Prime Minister Stephen Harper, US President George W. Bush and Mexico's President Felipe Calderon, at
this third installment of the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP)
Dressed as clowns and guerillas, protestors chanted "Bush go home!" and
waved "No to Americanada" placards along the tree-lined shores of the Ottawa River, 80 kilometers (50 miles)
east of Canada's capital.
Riot police, using tear gas, pepper spray and batons, blocked an
estimated 5,000 demonstrators at the gates of the historic cedar
Chateau Montebello, where Group of Seven leaders met in 1981.
Louis Banal, a Quebec police spokesman, said one protestor was
arrested, and two officers were injured in the melee.
The summit aims to harmonize North American trade rules and security
following the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States, when
closed US borders cost all three countries billions of dollars in lost
Mexican President Felipe Calderon was
forced to clip his visit to Canada short as powerful Hurricane Dean roared towards the Mexican
Calderon said he would depart after the summit and return to his
country on Tuesday ahead of schedule to monitor the advance of the
giant storm, which is expected to hit the Yucatan peninsula early
Monday night, the three leaders dined together and would hear from the
North American Competitiveness Council on Tuesday on proposals to boost
the continent's competitive edge in key sectors.
On the summit sidelines, Bush and Harper discussed border inspections,
bilateral trade, the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, and Canada's
disputed Arctic claim, a senior Canadian official said.
Harper also informed Bush that Canada would only extend its troop
deployment in Afghanistan beyond February 2009 with "parliamentary
endorsement," she said, adding. "That doesn't preclude that that
endorsement wouldn't be forthcoming."
The annual summit was launched in March 2005 in Waco, Texas as the "Three Amigos" summit.
But it has been criticized since by a range of activists, labor groups
and academics as having an excessive focus on business interests, with
30 top executives from Canada, the United States and Mexico invited to take part.
"Society is not represented at this summit," protestor Guillaume
Tremblay told AFP. "Bush, Harper, Calderon and a handful of businessmen
are making important decisions about our future and we're not even
"We want a public debate," he demanded, surrounded by masked
demonstrators jostling with officers outside a fence, three meters (10
feet) high and running 2.5 kilometers (1.5 miles) around the meeting
A perceived lack of openness in the negotiations has provoked the
of anti-globalization activists, environmentalists, peace activists,
and civil rights groups -- united in their suspicions of the
Several of the demonstrators, refusing to remain in a forest clearing
set up for them by summit organizers, vowed to try to get closer to
Bush, Harper and Calderon to make their views known.
But they were far outnumbered by police with dogs, in aircraft and on
river boat patrols.
In talks between the Canadian and US leaders, Harper also drew
Bush's attention to former US envoy Paul Cellucci's
recently expressed view that it is in the US national interest to have
the disputed Northwest Passage considered part of Canada.
This would "enable the Canadian navy to intercept and board
vessels in the Northwest Passage to make sure they are not bringing
weapons of mass destruction into North America," Cellucci told
Dan Fisk, senior director for Western Hemisphere Affairs on
Bush's National Security Council, countered: "I think it's fair to say
that the president came away with a far better understanding of
"(But) we continue to believe that the Northwest Passage is an
Canada, the United States, Russia, Denmark and Norway
are at odds over 1.2 million square kilometers of Arctic seabed,
believed to hold 25 percent of the world's undiscovered oil and gas