CALGARY - The Alberta Federation of Labour has presented the City of Calgary with an ultimatum - either approve the AFL's application for a venue for activities during the upcoming G-8 summit by 2 p.m. tomorrow or face the prospect activists taking their protests to the streets.
In a letter faxed yesterday afternoon to John Chaput, the City's G-8 Project manager, AFL president Les Steel urged the City to help find an outdoor venue large enough to accommodate the thousands of activists expected to converge on Calgary next month.
"If we have not heard from the City by Friday at 2 p.m. with news about an acceptable venue we will abandon all efforts to plan an organized, controlled event," wrote Steel. "This is not our preference, but without cooperation from the City, we will have no choice."
If the AFL and other groups organizing counter-summit activities are unable to plan a large outdoor event, Steel warned Chaput that activists will "literally be forced out into the streets."
"By rejecting our application (for a city-owned venue) the City will inadvertently increase the likelihood of the very kind of confrontations that they're seeking to avoid," wrote Steel.
Steel concluded his letter to Chaput by saying that the interests of the City and groups like the AFL are not really that different.
"We both want to make things run as smoothly as possible during the week of the summit. We both want to ensure the safety and promote the rights of Calgarians and people visiting the city. And we both want to reduce the likelihood of confrontation, violence and property damage. I remain convinced that the best way to achieve all these goals is to grant our request and help us find an outdoor venue for our Solidarity Festival."
(Note: Due to a family emergency, AFL President Les Steel will not be available for comment on the letter - attached - that was sent to the City of Calgary. Alternate spokespeople are list below. All have been closely involved with efforts to organize a Solidarity Village.)
For more information call:
Mike Desautels, Regional Representative, Canadian Labour Congress @ (780) 405-2756
Don MacNeil, Western VP, Communication Energy Paperworkers @ (780) 984-5289
May 29, 2002
Sent by Fax: (403) 537-3068
G8 Project Manager
City of Calgary
Dear Mr. Chaput:
Re: Rejection of AFL Application for Solidarity Village at Shaw Millennium Park
As you are no doubt aware, the City of Calgary has formally rejected our application to use Shaw Millennium Park as a venue for Solidarity Village activities during the upcoming G-8 Summit. I am writing today to urge you and your colleagues in the City administration to either reconsider this decision or help us find another city-owned site that would meet our needs.
We at the AFL sympathize with the City's concerns about safety. We understand that it's your job to be cautious and make decisions which you perceive to be in the public's best interests. But the AFL and other organizations involved in planning counter-summit events are also concerned about safety. In fact, by holding a large outdoor event at a city-run facility, we were hoping to enhance safety and reduce the likelihood of unwanted confrontations.
The bottom line is that in three short weeks, thousands of people will be converging on Calgary to exercise their democratic rights and voice legitimate concerns about the G-8 and its policies. Refusing our application will not stop these people from coming. However, what it might do is create unwanted problems. Without an organized outdoor event like the one we're proposing, people protesting the G-8 will literally be forced into the streets.
Obviously, it is not your intent to promote confrontations between activists and security forces. But I'm afraid that by denying us the right to gather in a city facility, you may be doing just that. By rejecting our application, the City will inadvertently increase the likelihood of the very kind of confrontations that you're seeking to avoid.
Given the extremely short timeline and the serious implications of not having an outdoor venue, I am asking you to personally intervene with City Council and the City administration. Tell them that what we're proposing is not dangerous -
it will end up looking more like a folk festival than a militant rally. And tell them that the interests of the people of Calgary
would be better served by granting us a venue - rather than by rejecting our application and turning activists out into the streets.
At this point, I am not asking specifically for Shaw Millennium Park. Earlier today, we submitted a request for the Foothills Athletic grounds. But we'd be happy to use any facility that can accommodate the size of crowd that we're expecting.
In conclusion, I'd just like to remind you that our interests and goals in this matter are not really that different. We both want to make things run as smoothly as possible during the week of the summit. We both want to ensure the safety and promote the rights of Calgarians and people visiting the city. And we both want to reduce the likelihood of confrontation, violence and property damage. I remain convinced that the best way to achieve all these goals is to grant our request and help us find an outdoor venue for our Solidarity Festival.
Thank you for considering this urgent request - and I encourage you to take quick action. If we have not heard from the City by Friday at 2 p.m. with news about an acceptable venue we will abandon all efforts to plan an organized, controlled event. This is not our preference, but without cooperation from the City, we will have no choice. And as the saying goes: "the chips will fall as they may." I look forward to hearing from you soon.
ALBERTA FEDERATION OF LABOUR