QUEBEC CITY (Reuters) - Quebec’s forested Charlevoix region has begun to look more like a fortress than a resort as organizers of this week’s G7 summit gear up to shield seven world leaders from outside disturbances.
Protesters are unlikely to startle any world leaders during the June 8-9 meeting. A security force of some 10,000 police and military personnel will make sure they are kept far from the summit at Manoir Richelieu, a luxury resort with dramatic views of the St. Lawrence River.
The G7 groups Canada, the United States, Japan, Britain, Italy, France and Germany, and the EU also attends.
Authorities have urged demonstrators to congregate in an official protest zone in a parking lot in La Malbaie, a town about 5 km (3 miles) from the French-style castle resort.
Any tension at the summit site is most likely to come from leaders worried about a burgeoning trade war with the United States, and not from outside protests. That dynamic has prompted some to refer to the meeting as the “G6 plus Trump” summit.
No protest groups have announced plans to congregate in La Malbaie. They instead are organising a series of events focussed on global trade, migration, the environment, aboriginal rights and other issues in the provincial capital of Quebec City, a two-hour drive from Manoir Richelieu.
“We are ready for the worst-case scenario,” Royal Canadian Mounted Police Inspector Christian Roy said at a recent news conference.
There may be more tension in Quebec City, where a group calling itself the Anti-G7 Resistance Network has urged supporters to hold a “day of disruption.”
The group has told protestor to avoid La Malbaie, describing it as “a trap.” It has announced a rally on Friday, but provided no details.
A coalition is organising “a mass demonstration against the G7, capitalism, patriarchy, colonialism, racism and borders” on Thursday, according to a Facebook invite.
A second coalition plans to hold an alternative summit outside the provincial legislature building in Quebec City, where issues expected to come up at the summit will be discussed.
In anticipation of protests, Quebec’s legislature has cancelled sessions planned for Thursday evening and Friday.
Quebec City Police Chief Robert Pigeon has said he sees a “moderate” risk the protests will turn violent, but has promised to respect the rights of protesters.
Canada’s French-speaking province of Quebec has seen its share of protests.
Quebec City became a flashpoint in the spring of 2001, when tens of thousands of people rallied to protest the Third Summit of the Americas, prompting police to use massive quantities of tear gas to control crowds.
One issue that organizers of this week’s G7 summit will not have to deal with is complaints about the smell of fertiliser.
Quebec’s agriculture ministry last week asked farmers to refrain from spreading liquid manure on their fields in the days leading up to the summit.
Reporting by Kevin Dougherty in Quebec City; Writing by Anna Mehler Paperny; Editing by Jim Finkle, Dan Grebler and Lisa Shumaker