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Protest still in the works for Whistler conference

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Call to action urges activists to help shut down PNWER’s annual meeting

There are less than three weeks to go before the Pacific North West Economic Region (PNWER) meeting in Whistler, July 25 to 29, and there is still no word on what kind of protest – if any – we can expect.

Last week a spokesperson from a group calling itself the Cascadia Region Anti-Capitalist Collective (CRACC) called on West Coast activists and protesters to converge on Whistler and shut the PNWER conference down. There was also a link to an anti-PNWER Web site at www.resistpnwer.com .

Pique spoke to an activist at CRACC about the call out, but when asked what kind of numbers and protest tactics Whistler can expect she had no comment. She also would not comment on any of her past involvement in protests. She wouldn’t even tell us a name or a nickname, preferring to go by the moniker of "unidentified source."

She did say, however, that nobody involved in the anti-PNWER movement wanted to see anybody get injured on either side of the fence.

"The first thing I’m going to say is that we don’t want to see a repeat of Quebec City, because that was a fiasco, a lot of people were hurt," she said. "Maybe some people will think (Whistler) will be like that, because Quebec City was the last big news story and the people will want to compare it to that."

Whether a protest in Whistler is even going to take place is also unknown, "but I’m hoping something will happen, and I’m hoping that it will be enjoyable and non-violent," she said.

"PNWER has been around for years now, and a lot of people don’t even know what it is, it’s been pretty low key as far as media attention goes. They’re making decisions that affect people’s lives, and I think the people should know about that."

PNWER membership includes British Columbia and the Yukon Territory in Canada, and Washington, Montana, Oregon, Idaho and California in the U.S. There will also be delegations from Pacific Coast states of Mexico, who may be offered membership in the future.

PNWER members meet annually to discuss issues that are affecting the region, such as trade and the environment. This year’s topics include health care, tourism, telecommunications, transportation, water, power, free trade, agriculture, education and high tech industries. Keynote speakers include Microsoft chairman Bill Gates and newly elected Premier Gordon Campbell.

The Council of State Governors West (CSGWest) is also holding their annual conference in conjunction with PNWER, bringing governors together to discuss common issues.

Anti-PNWER groups believe that through trade agreements like the North American Free Trade Agreement and the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas, PNWER is dedicated to "further exploiting indigenous peoples, the working class and the poor by extracting more ‘resources’ out of the region, such as forests, minerals, oil and water. PNWER is yet another body of control that gives the reins of power over to rich white men who have been exploiting and killing the people and the environment of this region since the first colonizers."

The RCMP and municipality have been informed about the possible protest, but have yet to issue any formal statements.

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