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General hostility a common ground at colourful protest

Protests at international gatherings tend to be eclectic events - many groups, many causes - but Toronto's G20 protests may set some kind of record for the variety of complaints being voiced at one time.

Even before the weekend summit gets under way, we have seen marches and demonstrations for gender justice, queer rights and disability rights; environmental and climate justice; and indigenous sovereignty. Monday's day of protest was a mouthful, calling for "migrant justice and an end to war and occupation, income equity and community control over resources."

Today, the eve of the summit, featured a kind of protest jamboree in Allan Gardens, the shady park at Carlton and Jarvis. Before starting their march, protesters gathered in festive spirits on the grass, banging drums, unfolding banners and taking cell phone pictures of each other.

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Among the crowd were Iranian communists singing the praises of socialism, anti-poverty activists calling for a 40 per cent hike in welfare rates and environmentalists condemning the Alberta tar sands.

Among the slogans on banners, stickers and placards: End the Siege of Gaza, End Deforestation, Stop the War on the Poor, Eat the Rich, Defend Iran against Imperialist Attack, Real Men are Feminists and - the unkindest cut of all - McGuinty, Your Soul is Flint.

Keeping it local, some folks had stickers calling for "free and accesible TTC for all."

Two young guys with long hair and marijuana-leaf kerchiefs wore T-shirts advertising Oshawa Cannabis Day.

On the less festive side, a group of about a dozen men and women wore ninja black from head to toe, with hoods and masks to keep their identities private.

Their shouted message was simple enough: "Fuck law and order."

It was all very colourful, but you have to wonder: with so many messages, does any one of them really stick?

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Past protests at summits have focused on opposing globalization or agitating on other economic issues. This one, so far, seems to have no identifiable theme apart from a general hostility to the G8/G20.

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About the Author
Toronto columnist

Marcus Gee is Toronto columnist for the Globe and Mail, Canada's national newspaper.Born in Toronto, he graduated from the University of British Columbia in 1979 with a degree in modern European history, then worked as a reporter for The Province, Vancouver's morning newspaper. More

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