CANADA: Protesters confront G20 finance ministers

Issue 

Hundreds of people confronted the world's most powerful finance ministers during three days of protest against the October 24-25 meeting of the G20 in Montreal.

Protest organisers said the G20 — which includes the Group of Seven richest countries, medium-sized powers like Australia and South Africa, and some of the largest Third World countries, including China and Brazil — was an unaccountable and secretive body making decisions about the world economy.

"It's a clique, the executive committee of the international bourgeoisie", one student protester told a Canadian news agency. "They don't understand the people in the street or poverty."

Riot police attacked a demonstration of 500 people who linked arms in front of the Sheraton Hotel, where the conference was to be held, on October 23. Mounted police charged demonstrators while riot police used tear gas to disperse them. Thirty nine people were arrested.

Peaceful demonstrations by hundreds also took place on the following two days, but were not subjected to the same level of police intimidation.

The G20 meeting, which included representatives of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, discussed measures to contain the possibilities of financial crises like those which hit Asia, Russia and other markets in 1997-98.

As Europe favours a rules-based approach to crisis prevention and the United States favours case-by-case management, finance ministers did little more than approve new financial surveillance powers granted to the IMF at its September 26-27 Prague annual meeting. It reaffirmed the need for open capital markets, the principal trigger of the 1997-98 financial crisis.