Securing the forest

Protestors aren’t camping out on the University of Calgary grounds just yet, but they are listening and asking all the questions they can.

Students, activists and citizens alike attended the forum on Group of Eight summit security in MacEwan Hall on Thu., March 28. The G-8 summit, which will be held in Kananaskis from June 28–29, is expected to attract many protestors, potentially leading to security problems. Panelists emphasized the G-8 organizers’ efforts to avoid repeating scenes from similar events.

"We are attempting to make [the G-8] different from other summits you may have seen in the past," said Calgary Police Service Staff Sergeant John Middleton-Hope. "Our ideas are borne out of a number of other sources, like the Hughes inquiry on APEC [Asian Pacific Economic Conference]."

New security measures will change a number of areas, with the revision of policies governing the police’s use of weapons and the formation of community liaison groups.

"Our process will be to get together with the various interest groups," said Royal Canadian Mounted Police Sergeant Mike O’Reilly. "There is a huge potential for conflict here. We need cooperation to address it."

Middleton-Hope identified the Stony Plain area and the Bow Valley corridor as locations the police will have to deal with in addition to the Kananaskis region. He also cited the relationship between protestors and security forces as a concern.

"We want to reduce the frustration of protestors," Middleton-Hope said. "We will work with the [protest] groups to facilitate legitimate protest. Any other forms of protest will be dealt with in a strict law-enforcement manner."

While the U of C is not directly involved in the G-8 summit, it is taking an active role, said U of C Coordinator for G-8 studies Bill Warden.

"The U of C is actively involved in organizing activities in conjunction with the G-8," he explained. "We have a role to make a critical evaluation of these events."

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