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June 30, 2009

VINCE VERSACE

Police donned riot gear, including gas masks and face shields, to hold the line against violent G20 protesters in Toronto on the weekend.

Labour protesters at G20 summit direct ire at world financial sector

Thousands of rain soaked demonstrators gathered at Queen’s Park last weekend to protest the billions of dollars spent on global economic recovery which, they say, has left workers behind.

“It was not the workers of the world or the workers of Canada that caused this financial crisis,” said Sid Ryan, president of the Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL). “We do not want to see the transfer of wealth from the public sector into the hands of the financial private sector. Let the financial sector, the private sector, pay for the financial crisis they created.”

The “People First!” rally, organized by the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) and the OFL, was held in Toronto after the Muskoka G8 summit ended.

VINCE VERSACE

OFL president Sid Ryan addresses the ‘People First!’ rally at the summit.

VINCE VERSACE

CLC president Ken Georgetti: workers “left behind.”

CLC president Ken Georgetti stressed that private financial sector leaders should take responsibility for the financial crisis which occurred. He said workers have been “left behind” and burdened by bailout measures.

The rally became a focal point among the many anti-G20 rallies and protests in Toronto. Though the initial rally was held successfully, without incident, as was the first part of its demonstration march, slowly, clashes with police and random acts of violence began to unfold in the following hours.

Would-be marauding anarchists set police cars ablaze and smashed storefronts in downtown Toronto. The proponents of this violence were described as nothing more than “thugs,” by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).

“What we saw...was a bunch of thugs that pretend to have a difference of opinion with policies,” said Dimitri Soudas, director of communications for the PMO.

Police made over 400 arrests in the ensuing hours to restore order in pockets of the city’s downtown during the duration of the two-day summit.

Ryan denounced the violent acts, which left a trail of destruction, stating they have nothing to do with the labour organized G20 protest rally. Organizers of the rally wanted to give ordinary working people “a chance to speak out” and rile against issues from government bailouts of failed banking institutions to the $1.1 billion security price tag for the two Canadian summits.

“The First Nations people are living in abject poverty and one hundred communities are living without drinking water on a daily basis,” said Ryan.

“Instead of spending a billion dollars on security, we could have built water treatment plants right across this province.”

Joining the CLC and OFL in solidarity were United Steelworkers Workers Local 1005 from Hamilton and Canadian Auto Workers union.

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