Whistler councilors will watch June G8 meeting closely for signs of impact on community 

Canada’s spy agency warns radical protests are likely

Whistler councillors will be watching next month’s G8 meeting of foreign ministers here very closely.

They want to observe how security is handled and how protesters behave at the international get-together in the on-going process of determining whether the resort will host such events as the World Economic Forum in the future.

"…we would like to monitor the meetings, the one here, the (G8 Summit) in Kananaskis and next year’s (World Economic Forum) meeting in Davos," said Whistler Mayor Hugh O’Reilly.

"From that we can see what information we can draw, what the trend is, and what is happening, because now we are attuned to it."

Whistler has agreed to host the WEF in 2004 if the organization meets a number of criteria, including maintaining the safety of the community without interfering to much in the operation of the resort.

Other criteria include shifting the meeting from peak-season in January to the shoulder seasons, making sure the federal government pays for and organizes security and insurance, ensuring recommendations to incorporate sustainability are part of the agenda, and the completion of the second phase of the Whistler Conference Centre.

In a recent report by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service officials warn that radical Black Bloc elements, which disrupted previous international conferences, are likely to rally at these upcoming G8 meetings.

It also notes that the terrorist attacks Sept. 11 in the US appear to have resulted in protest groups taking a less confrontational stance.

"The anti-globalization movement will continue to regroup and pursue its various goals," states the report.

"The vast majority of protesters will attempt to stage non-violent demonstrations. Those who support the use of violence including anarchists will continue to do so.

"Numerous groups including the Black Bloc elements are likely to organize for future protests, including the G8 meeting in Kananaskis in June 2002."

The Black Bloc knocked down sections of the security fence and threw rocks, golf balls concrete chunks and hockey pucks at security forces at the April 2001 Summit of the Americas in Quebec City.

"The concerns that are voiced by CSIS are probably well-founded in the demonstrated actions of the Black Bloc," said RCMP media spokesman Sgt. Grant Learned.

He will be part of a team travelling to Whistler in the next few weeks to scout out the location of the June 12-13 G8 foreign ministers meeting and help plan the security surrounding the meeting.

The RCMP is already in discussions with several protest groups to ensure peaceful protests go ahead without any problems.

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