- The Washington Times - Monday, June 10, 2002

KANANASKIS, Alberta Legend says Kananaskis was named for a Cree Indian who survived an ax blow to the head.
A summit of the world's industrial powers in late June could be another legendary headache for this Rocky Mountain hiking and skiing mecca renowned for exquisite vistas.
It will be the first meeting of the Group of eight leaders from the United States, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Russia since the September 11 terrorist attacks.
That means even tighter security than the initial plans for dealing with anti-globalization demonstrations like those at last year's G-8 summit in Genoa, Italy, where one protester died in clashes with police.
Preventing a terrorist attack, as well as fending off protesters, will mean disrupting some of the serenity and isolation of Kananaskis pronounced kan-an-AS-kis in southern Alberta.
Even before September 11, Prime Minister Jean Chretien had chosen Kananaskis which is accessible by only one paved road to restore the relaxed, private atmosphere of the original annual summits that began in 1975 in Rambouillet, France. That means minimum ceremony and insulating the guests from disruptive demonstrations and news media glare.
Robert Fowler, Mr. Chretien's advance man for the summit, said it would be the ninth attended by his boss as prime minister, including one he was host to in Halifax, Nova Scotia, in 1995.
"He wanted a place where leaders could schmooze and meet and not spend lots of time going through ceremonial departures and arrivals and getting in corteges and parading through the streets," said Mr. Fowler, who also is Canada's ambassador to Italy. "He wanted a kind of intimate atmosphere where they could just get down to basics."
Major changes from recent summits include the remote setting and smaller delegations from each country. The Kananaskis hotels will be accommodating 450 people, a group smaller than one nation's delegation last summer in Genoa.
The gathering also will last only 30 hours instead of the usual three days, and media access will be limited. Journalists will stay in Calgary, an hour to the east, and coverage in Kananaskis will be limited to media pools brought to the resort.
"It's a different kind of summit," Mr. Fowler said in an interview in his Ottawa office. There won't be "legions of bureaucrats and advisers storming about."
Joking that even the participants rarely read the final communiques, Mr. Fowler said Mr. Chretien would issue a brief chairman's summary of six or seven paragraphs. It will mention the three major agenda items the global economy, terrorism and a new African development plan pushed by Mr. Chretien along with any other significant issues that come up, he said.
The influence of the September 11 attacks is evident. "Terrorism isn't new, but would terrorism be one of only three major items on the agenda without September 11? I doubt it," Mr. Fowler said.
Security agents from the participating countries and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) have brought unprecedented scrutiny to a resort area of fewer than 500 residents that didn't get its own postal code until 1987.
The skies above will be closed to air traffic and patrolled by jet fighters. On the ground, the RCMP, backed by military forces, will create a security zone almost eight miles in diameter around the Kananaskis resort, with checkpoints along Highway 40, the lone paved road to the site. Residents and workers will be allowed to enter, but others will require a police escort, RCMP Cpl. Jamie Johnston said.
Services such as water are being checked for vulnerability to sabotage. A notice from the TransAlta power company posted at the small shopping center warns residents that low-flying helicopters will be checking power lines before the summit.
Special inspectors will examine the meals served to the eight world leaders and freeze samples for testing in case anyone gets sick, said Jeff O'Neill, the resort's executive chef.
The mountain wilderness is rugged and inhabited by grizzly bears, but police will keep watch all the same in case protesters try to sneak in, Cpl. Johnston said.
He and Mr. Fowler said there are no plans to allow any demonstrators to get within miles of the meeting for any reason.
Mr. Fowler said the organizing committees and government officials had solicited public comments about topics on the summit's agenda, saying that was more inclusive than in the past. "The reality of our world is not everybody can participate directly in decision-making," he said.
Security concerns spawned rumors that Kananaskis would shut down for weeks because of the summit, something denied by Dale Dyck, general manager of the Delta Hotel.
"I remember when I read it, kind of going, 'Oh dear,'" Mr. Dyck said.
But while the summit will mean limited movement for a few days, local services should generally be able to operate as normal, he said.
"The biggest thing for us is awareness and what we're hoping it will do as far as putting us on a world stage," Mr. Dyck said.


Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide