Quebec City police play down fears of violence ahead of G7 protests
Authorities expecting some protesters to seek confrontations with police
Canadian law enforcement authorities are maintaining the country's threat level at medium as they prepare for planned protests in Quebec City to coincide with the G7 summit in La Malbaie, Que., next month.
The G7 summit is being held in La Malbaie, in the Charlevoix region, about 150 kilometres east of Quebec City, but given that security will be tight around the secluded location, protesters are expected to gather in the provincial capital instead.
"The threat level is currently medium," Quebec City's police chief, Robert Pigeon, said Wednesday at a news conference.
"What we are dealing with is a situation as normal: people who want to express their opinions in the public space. At the same time, we expect these groups to be infiltrated by ill-intentioned people."
Pigeon appeared to be referring to the commonly used "black bloc" tactic, in which black-clad demonstrators seek out physical confrontations with police.
He said his expectations were based on tactics seen in previous demonstrations, as well as information gathered by law enforcement.
Lessons learned from 2001
People who live in St-Jean-Baptiste worried about damage to homes and businesses. Police suggest theypick up loose items so they can’t be used as projectiles—@CatouCBC
A lot of frustration over police refusal to give advice on whether to close businesses, terraces on Grande Allée even a daycare in the area expected to be at heart of protests.—@CatouCBC
Many recall the 2001 Summit of the Americas, when more than 30,000 people gathered in the city to protest against a potential continental free-trade pact.
A security fence was erected around the summit site. It became a flashpoint and was eventually toppled when police clashed with the protesters. The city was engulfed in tear gas, and damages were estimated at $3.4 million.
"Things have changed greatly since [then]. We're adapting today to 2018," said Jason Allard, a spokesperson for the SQ.
Police said they have no immediate plans to erect any fences for next month's demonstrations, though a security perimeter will be established around the National Assembly buildings.