Canadian Labour Congress

Canadian Labour Congress

June 16, 2010 11:11 ET

Largest G20 Protest Puts People and Their Safety First

Organizers support injunction to prevent use of sonic cannons during Summit

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - June 16, 2010) - The organizers of the June 26 "People First!" rally say their reason for organizing what's likely to be the biggest public protest during the G20 Summit was to give ordinary working people a chance to speak out in a place that's safe and free from the overblown security presence that's become so commonplace during meetings of the world's most powerful heads of state.

Speaking at a news conference near the G20 Summit site, the presidents of the Canadian Labour Congress and the Ontario Federation of Labour outlined their reasons for organizing the large protest while assuring people it will be both peaceful and safe. Joining them was the Canadian Civil Liberties Association which, along with the CLC, has sought a court order to prevent the unsafe use of sonic cannons during the protest to guarantee a safe environment for people who choose to express themselves outside of the high security zone.

"Canadians have a right to freely express themselves in the public places of their own community and their own country. We've been working for months with local organizations here in Toronto, including local police to provide people with a safe and peaceful venue to express their displeasure with G20 leaders and their own government," said OFL president Sid Ryan.

Rally organizers say they are aware of over thirty buses that have been chartered by local labour unions and student associations to bring people from across Ontario to the protests. They also report that people who want to come and raise their issues are being intimidated by the excessive security presence and news stories that show police in full riot gear, flaunting weapons used against attacking pirates on the high seas. They've addressed those concerns by keeping their march away from security hot spots and by joining an appeal to the courts to prevent police from using their new sonic cannons, or LRADs.

"These weapons haven't been tested or approved for use in Ontario. Until then, we have no guarantee that police know how to use them properly and safely," said Nathalie Des Rosiers of the CCLA, which sought the court injunction this week with the support of rally organizers. "These laws exist for our protection; they cannot be put aside simply because foreign dignitaries are coming to town."

CLC president Ken Georgetti says the main reason for staging a protest rally, as well as a march through the streets of Toronto during the G20 Summit is to draw attention to the way working people are getting left behind and left out of the economic recovery.

"Working people need to come out, speak up and tell their leaders that we refuse to get stuck with all the bills for a financial crisis and a recession that we did not cause. Reckless financial traders and greedy investment bankers caused it. People lost millions of jobs and billions in savings. Governments went deep into debt to provide help – and now they want us to pay with higher taxes and belt-tightening and let those bankers off the hook," said CLC president Ken Georgetti.

"Those greedy CEOs need to take responsibility for the damage that was done and pay their fair share, starting with a tax on financial transactions. Governments need that revenue to continue helping the jobs market recover and to get back to work on vital issues like climate change, HIV-AIDS, and the crushing poverty we see in the world today," said Georgetti.

The "People First!" Rally and March take place on Saturday, June 26, starting at 1:00 p.m. on the south lawn of Queen's Park and then march south on University Avenue, turning west along Queen Street West, then north onto Spadina Avenue, and finally east onto College Street back to a main stage for more music and local entertainment.

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