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700 people from around the world open the People’s Summit in Toronto

Last night 700 people packed the Carlu in downtown Toronto for the opening event of the People’s Summit. Stories and Solutions from North and South featured organizers and activists from around the world who are working in their communities to find sustainable, transformative alternatives to the G8/G20 agenda.

The Council of Canadians is handing out earplugs in Toronto. Part of the 'security plan' for the G8/20 included purchasing a 'sound cannon' to disperse those raising their voice in dissent.

The Council of Canadians is handing out earplugs in Toronto. Part of the ‘security plan’ for the G8/20 included purchasing a ‘sound cannon’ to disperse those raising their voice in dissent.

Council of Canadians national chairperson Maude Barlow opened the event, challenging the legitimacy of the of the G8 and G20, noting that the costs of the summits are reaching the annual budget of the UN and proposed this as the democratic place that leaders should meet to tackle the global problems that confront us. She announced the June 17 news the UN has tabled a human right to water and sanitation resolution presented and promoted by the Bolivian government. She called on the audience to ensure that the Canadian government to support this resolution.

Maude also talked about the fake lake being created by Harper at the same time that the Canadian Fisheries Act – through Schedule 2 – allows the destruction of pristine lakes in Canada, when mining companies apply to dump their toxic garbage in them. She spoke of the strength of climate justice movement in Copenhagen to challenge closed door meetings and likened the World Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth in Cochabamba earlier this year to the People’s Summit this weekend.

Finally she spoke to the successes our movement has had in defeating the global ‘trade’ deals which deregulate public services and serve corporations over people. She warned of the Canada – EU Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) and our need to fight this deal.

Other speakers from the global south; Lorena Aquilar, Global Gender Advisor, International Union for Conservation of Nature, Costa Rica, Victor Baez, General Secretary, Trade Union Confederation of the Americas, Brazil, Dorothy Ngoma, Executive Director of the National Organization of Nurses and Midwives of Malawi and Ambet Yuson, Secretary General of the Building and Woodworkers International, Phillipines spoke of the need for women’s rights and labour rights to be on the agenda of the G8/20 meetings.

First Nations leaders Jessica Yee, Executive Director of the Native Youth Sexual Health Network and Robert Lovelace, Co-Chief of the Ardoch Algonquin First Nation spoke to the need for us to ensure the health of our movement for sustainability. Jessica reminded the crowd, “we need to check ourself before we wreck ourself’.

To join the Council of Canadians’ call to Scrap the Summits, take action here.

Events at the People’s Summit continue today. To check out the events that the Council of Canadians is participating in, click here.

If you are coming to Toronto next weekend, for the Shout Out for Global Justice! and the People First! We Deserve Better march, don’t forget to get your tickets to the Shout Out today!

Off to the People’s Summit now!