[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Confronting Globalization in Montreal




by Jaggi Singh <jaggi@tao.ca>
for A-infos, the Direct Action Media Network and act-montreal

[The author freely grants permission to all left-wing, progressive and
radical groups to reprint and repost this article with acknowledgment
notification by e-mail.]

MONTREAL, May 25, 1999 -- IMF ... WTO ... GATT ... FTA ... NAFTA ...
... MAI ... TEP ... OECD ... APEC ... the institutions and agreements
drive corporate-style globalization are a veritable alphabet soup.
However, for the past few years, radical activists in Montréal have had
their own tangible local symbol of globalization: The "Conférence de
Montréal on Globalized Economies".

The 5th Annual Conférence is being held again this year at the downtown
Sheraton Centre Hotel between May 30 and June 2. The gathering brings
together an assortment of business executives, politicians and

If that wasn't enough, between June 4-5, another conference -- organized
by McGill University's Institute for the Study of Canada -- is being
convened at Montréal's Renaissance Hotel du Parc. Dubbed "Free Trade At
10, NAFTA At 5,"  this corporate confab will bring together an A-list of
free trade apologists, including the much reviled former Canadian Prime
Minister, Brian Mulroney, and former US President George Bush. [A full
list of Conférence de Montréal and Free Trade At 10 speakers is appended

* * *

The chosen theme of this year's Conférence de Montréal is "The Americas
and the 21st Century" as participants, at a cost of more than $1000 per
person, strategize about how to better profit from the emerging markets
Latin America.

The conference theme also complements the secretive negotiations of the
Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), which aims to extend NAFTA to
countries in the Western hemisphere except Cuba. The current round of
negotiations is sponsored by Canada.

In addition to senior leaders and officials from the US, Mexico,
Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Uruguay and Venezuela, this year's special
Conférence speaker is Michel Camdessus, the Managing Director of the
International Monetary Fund (IMF). Notorious for its big-business driven
"structural adjustment programs" imposed on Third World countries, the
IMF, along with the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the World Bank,
comprises the Holy Trinity of modern-day capitalism.

Of course, CEOs and executives affiliated with Conférence sponsors will
play a central role at the gathering, representing companies like
Bombardier, the Power Corporation, Hydro Québec, BCE, the Royal Bank,
and the Montréal Stock Exchange. Not surprisingly, the Conférence is
generously supported by the Government of Canada and "Team Canada
Incorporated."  Conférence "partners" include the Business Council on
National Issues (BCNI), the Canadian International Development Agency
(CIDA), the Ecole des hautes études commerciales (HEC) and the
pro-corporate University of British Columbia (which hosted the notorious
1997 APEC Conference).

Each year, organizers are careful to choose a token leftist (or, what's
more descriptively expressed in French as "un gauchiste au service") to
give the Conférence an air of political diversity. This year's choice
Gérald Larose, the outgoing head of the reformist Confédération des
Syndicats Nationaux [CSN -- Confederation of National Trade Unions]. He
takes over the token role played by Alexa McDonough, leader of the
social-democratic New Democratic Party (dubbed "The No Difference Party"
by Canada's left), at last year's gathering.

* * *

Previous Conférence de Montréal's have been met by effective grassroots
resistance by local Montreal activists. In 1996, the Conférence's
guest was former US Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger. He was the
of a citizen's arrest -- for crimes against humanity in Vietnam,
Laos, East Timor, Chile and other countries -- by the Canevas direct
action collective. [A similar arrest attempt was made again this year on
May 18 in Toronto.]

Last year, the Conférence's special guest was Donald Johnston. He was
then-head of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development
(OECD), at which the notorious Multilateral Agreement on Investment
-- described by some activists as "NAFTA on steroids" -- was being
negotiated in secret. In response, a coalition of local activists formed
Opération SalAMI and organized an awareness-raising campaign about the
MAI. [AMI is the French acronym for the MAI. "Sal" means bad, dirty or

Opération SalAMI's activities included the publication and distribution
a newspaper, a night-time street party on the eve of May 1st outside the
Stock Exchange (which was repeated again this year with much success),
a two-day parallel conference on alternatives to globalization.

Opération SalAMI culminated in the successful blockade of the Conférence
last May 25 by hundreds of activists, and the subsequent arrest of close
to 100 demonstrators by Montréal's riot police. The SalAMI defendants
still awaiting a verdict for their actions after an eight-day political
trial this past March.

* * *

This year, like 1996 and 1998, local resistance to the big business
of the Conférence de Montréal continues ...

The Comité des sans-emplois [the Committee of the Unemployed], an
anti-poverty group based in the East-End "Centre-Sud" neighbourhood, is
organizing a demonstration at the Conférence which will begin at 8am on
Monday, May 31 at the Sheraton Hotel. Their no-bullshit slogan is: "The
rich are rich because we are poor!"

The last time the Comité organized an action at a downtown hotel, they
caused an international sensation. Last December 1997, a "Commando
[Food Commando] appropriated steaming platters of food from the posh
Elizabeth Hotel's lunchtime buffet and served meals to the over
one-hundred people who had assembled for the occasion. All participants
were eventually arrested by the riot police at this inspiring direct
action against poverty and hunger. [A trial has yet to be held for the
participants that are still facing criminal charges ranging from theft

This year's action at the Sheraton Hotel could be just as eventful, and
will certainly be an unequivocal statement against the agenda of big
capital by an active group representing Montréal's underclass.

* * *

Meanwhile, activists from Opération SalAMI are returning to the
for a second year. However, instead of a large-scale civil disobedience
action, SalAMI is planning a public Teach-In to take place outside the
Sheraton Hotel on June 1. The educational event will include more than
participatory workshops, at four different locations, on a wide range of
topics relating to globalization and popular resistance.

Participants are being urged to bring their own chair to the event as
Teach-In physically takes over the public spaces outside the hotel for
events, in direct contrast to the closed-door proceedings of the
Conférence.  SalAMI organizers have also issued a challenge to
speakers to openly debate their policies at the Teach-In, with special
chairs set aside for Michel Camdessus and Gérald Larose.

* * *

While nothing formal has yet to be organized, it is certain that
Montréal's radical and social justice activist community will be
confronting the "Free Trade At 10" meeting. At the very least, the
conference will provide some choice targets for Montréal's prolific
pie throwers: les Entartistes (known in English as the Pieoneers).

Free Trade At 10 includes some of the major players behind both the
Canada-US Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and NAFTA. In addition to Mulroney
and Bush, attendees include former US Secretary of State James Baker
former Canadian trade ministers Michael Wilson and John Crosbie, and the
President of the Business Council on National Issues, Thomas d'Aquino.

Like the Conférence de Montréal, Free Trade At 10 also includes some
leftists to help legitimize the meeting. They include Bob Rae, the
NDP Premier of Ontario and, once again, Gérald Larose. Both gatherings
careful to avoid inviting anyone who is actually connected to serious
grassroots resistance to globalization in Canada or abroad.

Free Trade At 10 sponsors include Alcan, the Royal Bank , CN,
BCE, Nortel, and Barrick Gold (on whose corporate board sit none other
than George Bush and Brian Mulroney). The gathering will also launch an
impact study entitled "FTA @ 10/NAFTA @ 5" by the Royal Bank. The report
is not expected to denounce the well-documented ill-effects of so-called
"free"  trade.

While organized by an institute affiliated with McGill University --
presumably still believes in the liberal pretenses of open and free
-- Free Trade At 10 will cost $350 to attend, and is carefully scripted
ensure a one-sided look at the FTA and NAFTA. Both press releases
from the organizers celebrate free trade, while the conference webpage
several PR style photos of Mulroney, Bush and Ronald Reagan.

* * *

The upcoming activities against the Conférence de Montréal, and
actions against the Free Trade At 10 meeting, will be part of radical
Montréal's contribution to the growing international resistance to
corporate-style globalization.

On June 18th, in response to a call from People's Global Action Against
Free Trade (PGA), there will be worldwide demonstrations at financial
centers. At the same time, the G-8 leaders, including Jean Chrétien,
be meeting in Cologne, Germany.

Due to organizing efforts earlier in the month, there is no specific
18 activity yet planned in Montréal. However, many Montréalers will be
attending the "Reclaim the Streets" demonstration and parade organized
the PGA Coalition in nearby Ottawa. Ironically, June 18 will also be the
same day that the over 90 Opération SalAMI defendants receive a verdict
Montréal's Municpal Court for criminal charges ranging from mischief to
resisting arrest.

Meanwhile, later this year from November 1-2, Toronto will be hosting
next FTAA meeting of the regions' trade ministers. Also, in late
and early December, over 130 trade ministers and heads of state will
gather in Seattle for the next round of World Trade Organization talks.

Planning against both meetings has already started as grassroots
resistance to the agenda of big capital continues to grow in Montréal
the rest of North America. Reports from the upcoming demonstrations, and
analysis of the various institutions and agreements of corporate free
trade, will be forthcoming on these e-mail lists in the upcoming weeks

[The author of this article is involved with both the May 31st
demonstration and the June 1st Teach-In. He is also an Opération SalAMI
defendant. For more information, or to get involved in local resistance
globalization in Montréal, contact the Comité des sans-emplois at
514-596-7094 or Opération SalAMI at 514-982-6606, ext. 2236. For info
about other Montréal activities against capitalist globalization, or
organizing against the FTAA, MAI and WTO, phone 514-526-8946 or e-mail


Free Trade At 10 speakers (partial list)
June 4-5, Renaissance Hotel du Parc:

(* indicates a token leftist)

Brian Mulroney, former Prime Minister of Canada
George Bush, former US President
James Baker III, former US Secretary of State and Treasury Secretary
Michael Wilson, former Minister of Finance
John Crosbie, former Minister of International Trade
Clayton Yeutter, US free trade negotiator
Stanley Hartt, former Deputy Minister of Finance
Simon Reisman, Chief free trade negotiator, Canada
Derek Burney, former Canadian Ambassador to the US,
Fernando Clavijo Quiroga, Advisor to the President of Mexico (1989-94)
Laurent Beaudoin, Chairman, Bombardier Inc.
Jacques Menard, Chairman, Hydro-Québec
* Buzz Hargrove, President, Canadian Auto Workers
Michael J. Sabia, CFO, Canadian National Ltd.
William Watson, Professor of Economics, McGill
Desmond Morton, Director, McGill Institute for the Study of Canada
Donald S. Macdonald, former Minister of Finance
Charles Sirois, CEO, Teleglobe Inc.
Lynton Wilson, Chairman, BCE Inc.
Frank McKenna, Premier of New Brunswick (1986-97)
* Bob Rae, Premier of Ontario (1990-95)
* Duncan Cameron, Director, Centre for Policy Alternatives
* Gérald Larose, President, Confédération des syndicats nationaux (CSN)
William S. Merkin, US free trade negotiatior
Carla Hills, US Trade Representative (1989-93)
Jaime Serra Puche, former Minister of Trade, Mexico
Pierre Marc Johnson, former Premier, Québec
Bernard Landry, Minster of Finance, Québec
Jean Charest, leader, Québec Liberal Party
Thomas d'Aquino, President, Business Council on National Issues
Jorge O. Mariscal, Emerging Markers Coordinator, Goldman, Sachs & Co.
and many more ...

Conférence de Montréal speakers
May 30 - June 2, Sheraton Centre Hotel:

Michel Camdessus, Managing Director, International Monetary Fund
S.E. Andrès Pastrana, President of Columbia
P.J. Patterson, Prime Minister of Jamaica
Cesar Gaviria, Secretary-General, Organization of American States (OAS)
Enrique Iglesias, President, Inter-American Development Bank
Richard Grasso, President and CEO, New York Stock Exchange
Alice Rivlin, Vice-Chair, US Federal Reserve Board
Raymond Chretien, Canadian Ambassador to the USA
Gordon D. Giffin, US Ambassador to Canada
Sergio Marchi, Minister of International Trade, Canada
Martin Cauchon, Minister for Economic Development in Québec, Canada
Sheila Copps, Minister of Propaganda (aka Minister of Heritage), Canada
Martin Redrado, Former Chairman of the Argentina Securities Commission
Henry Mintzberg, Professor, McGill University
* Gérald Larose, President, Confédération des syndicats nationaux
Gaetan Lussier, President, Culinar
John McCallum, Chief Economist, Royal Bank of Canada
Yvan Allaire, Executive vice president, Bombardier Inc.
Clayton Yeutter, U.S. Free Trade negotiator
Paulo Alcàntara Gomez, President College of the Americas
H.E. Hugo Fernandez Faingold, Vice-President, Eastern Republic of
Dr. Maritza Izaguirre, Minister of Finance, Venezuela
Carlos Arturo Imendia, Banco Centroamericano de Integración Económica
L. Enrique García, President & CEO, Andean Development Corporation
Bob Frisen, President, Canadian Federation of Agriculture
Jack Valenti, President, Motion Picture Association of America
Félix Pena, Under-Secretary for Foreign Trade, Argentina

This is the OPIRG-events@ox.org list. Announcement only please.
To unsubscribe, send email to opirg-events-request@ox.org, and put
"unsubscribe" in the body.