As the G7 summit kicks off in this weekend in Quebec City, Canada, at Le Manoir Richelieu, activists and protestors gathered in force to make a statement of dissidence. Burning the flags of member nations – prominently featuring Canadian, American, and English flags doused in flames – protestors drew the attention of media and fellow marchers alike. The majority of those assembled were peaceful, but a few individuals wearing masks or outfitted in the informal uniform of black bloc anarchists participated in vandalism and the throwing of road flares, reports the Daily Mail.
The most prominent protest group amongst those assembled, calling themselves the Anti G7 Resistance Network, posted a call to action on their website. Asking for members and allies to show up for a “day of disruption,” the tense tone was established from the very beginning. Advertising in advance for today’s rally, the resistance organization called for marchers to protest within the city limits rather than the state-proscribed “protest zone” established three miles away in a parking lot.
The rally went relatively well by modern standards, with a heavy police presence perhaps contributing to the outcome. While black bloc members burned flags, spray-painted small businesses with graffiti, and threatened nearby journalists, according to the CBC, only three marchers were arrested by authorities of the nearly 500 onhand, a slight number. Besides the more militant anarchists and communists, other groups representing aboriginal, environmental, and local community organizations also took part in the public protest.
Most of the condemnations of the economic and policy summit come from a place of anti-colonial, anti-capitalist sentiment. Bearing placards decrying multinational corporations, environmental degradation, and President Donald Trump, protestors faced off with police, frequently lying down to prevent passage of law enforcement and making arrests as difficult and as time-consuming as possible as a deterrent. The Anti G7 Resistance Network provided an impetus for the political disobedience in a brief organizational statement, made available from their website.
“It’s a special occasion for the global elite to celebrate their dominance of the capitalist economy in style. While they claim to be discussing economic growth, job creation, gender equality, and climate change, in reality G7 meetings are key to the process of organizing the global economy in favor of banks and the oil, agricultural, pharmaceutical, tech, and weapons industries… On June 7th, join us for a festive mass demonstration against the G7, capitalism, patriarchy, colonialism, racism, and borders! Let’s speak out against the environmental destruction caused by the relentless exploitation of natural resources! Because our world can and must be better for everyone who lives in it and for generations to come!”
The G7 talks are a tete-a-tete between the leaders of seven of the world’s wealthiest nations. Canada, France, Italy, the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, and Japan are currently members states.
President Trump has signaled that Russia should also be invited back to the table, as BBC reports, recalling that it was G8 before Russia was booted from the group – ostensibly for their annexation of Crimea. President Trump has signaled to the rest of the world that he believes America is being taken advantage of on international trade, and often favors bilateral agreements with individual nations over grandiose trade agreements such as NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) or the defeated notion of the former TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership).
With successful negotiations with Chinese leadership having already taken place to reduce the massive trade deficit between the United States and the People’s Republic of China, it may now be Prime Minister Trudeau’s turn to deal one-on-one with the businessman-turned-president.
Trump and Trudeau spent a little bit of time during press conferences today lightly teasing one another about the tariff situation, gesturing toward a potential private deal that would see greater American access into the heavily-protected Canadian dairy market. Canada currently charges a tariff of between 200 percent and 300 percent on milk, cheese, and butter products from the United States, according to Global News.
Despite all protests, it is unlikely that any activism will shutter the proceedings. Previous G20 and G8 summits have been rocked by violent protests and have proceeded normally despite these challenges.