Montebello's mayor thanks police, protesters after leaders summit
Montebello's mayor praised both police and protesters after hundreds of officers and more than a thousand activists descended on the Quebec town for a summit by the three North American leaders — without a single report of damage.
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, U.S. President George W. Bush and Mexican President Felipe Calderon met in the small resort town near Ottawa on Monday and Tuesday to discuss the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America pact, including issues such as border security and free trade.
On Wednesday, Mayor Jean-Paul Descoeurs thanked the protesters for their manners.
"They left no graffiti. There was not a single incident of damage," Descoeurs said.
He said he would welcome back an international summit — and the protesters such a meeting attracts — any time.
In fact, things were already returning to normal by Tuesday afternoon in the quiet town on the north side of the Ottawa River east of Ottawa.
Business was brisk at Michel Gervais' snack bar just east of the historic Fairmont Le Château Montebello, where the summit was held. Provincial police officers dropped by for ice cream, having little else to do with few protesters left in town.
Among the remaining protesters were five young men from southern Ontario who tried to take their message into the heavily guarded hotel. They were turned away by police.
Jesse Freeston, a protester from Waterloo, Ont., said he wasn't surprised almost no protesters showed up Tuesday, considering the way they had been treated on Monday.
"When you are pelted with tear gas and sand bullets, when you try to peacefully demonstrate, that is a repellent," he said.
Even on Monday, however, there were only four arrests and a handful of minor injuries on both sides.
Except for the lingering residue of tear gas that still hung in the air on Tuesday, there was next to no damage to the town itself.
Protesters have charged that the summit is business-driven and anti-democratic since as a pact, rather than a treaty, elected representatives don't need to be consulted.
Harper wrapped up the summit midday Tuesday with an agreement to block the import of unsafe goods following numerous scares over Chinese-made products.