The Olympic year, 2010, could be a big one for protests in Canada and activists are already getting ready, according to a new report by a former RCMP intelligence and security consultant.
And in a growing trend, said Thomas Quiggin, diverse activists groups are coming together to plan their protests two years in advance of the event.
2010 will also see Canada host the meetings of the G8 group of developed nations and the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America, a regional-level dialogue with the stated purpose of providing greater co-operation on security and economic issues.
“The most interesting thing from my point of view… is the convergence between the various groups involved,” said Quiggin, a former RCMP security consultant and the only court-recognized expert on jihadist terrorism in Canada.
He pointed to groups who are active in First Nations affairs, housing issues, anti-poverty groups, and even anarchists networking with each other to make their arguments heard across the country.
“The whole social activists movement is a neat thing to watch because it is the perfect example of network-centric warfare almost, in that they are all individual groups all over the place, all doing their own thing most of the time,” said Quiggin.
“Some are in Vancouver, some in Ottawa, some in Guelph; some anti-poverty, some housing, some land, some native, some political — but every now and again an issue will pop up which will grab mutual attention.
“…You will see them all of a sudden coalesce and converge around a common issue and all of a sudden a group of folks that might not talk to each other on the street suddenly… have a common interest. And what is fascinating this time… was the fact that it is occurring two years ahead of the event.”
Chris Shaw of the Olympic watchdog group 2010 Watch, agrees that divergent activist groups are coming together.
“It is true and it is interesting,” he said.
“And a lot of groups that originally had issues with the Olympics from a particular perspective… are now beginning to see common patterns. So people who think that environmental destruction is the big thing say, ‘well that is not unrelated to what happens in the downtown eastside,’ and vice versa, so various groups are finding common cause and multiple reasons to oppose the Olympics, not only in Vancouver but everywhere.”
Shaw has even been contacted by a group who are opposed to Tromso, Norway, hosting the 2018 Games.
“There is that international thing building,” said Shaw.