Reportback: Actions Disrupt PNWER Summit in Vancouver

Posted by admin on Jul 25th, 2008

==> Opening night reception disrupted

==> No Smooth Sailing for PNWER Elites: Marina Entrance Blocked by Activists

A group of activists blocked access to the Westin Bayshore marina on Wednesday July 23 to protest the Pacific NorthWest Economic Region (PNWER) summit. In doing so, they prevented PNWER delegates from boarding a 190-person luxury boat tour of the Vancouver harbour. Approximately 10 people stood with a banner reading People Not Profit! and prevented access to the luxury yacht though the public boardwalk.

Police arrived – surprisingly a bit late although the Westin Bayshore already had a relatively strong police and security presence – and threatened arrests, however given the tight timeframe that the PNWER delegates were on, the luxury boat tour was cancelled and the PNWER delegates were forced to retreat after about 20 minutes!

The delegates who were forced to wait during that time on the boardwalk grew increasingly aggressive, with several assaults including shoving, punching, pullling, and grabbing of those blockading the door. One person even lunged a knife through the banner- supposedly to cut through the banner- but aimed into and through the banner towards those behind it. When being challenged about perpetuating systemic violence on poor, marginalized, and oppressed peoples, some delegates were unabashed with three of them joking about how “yes, indeed we quite enjoy having the power to screw people over”.

Given the visible presence of a majority of racialized activists, many delegates commented and questioned “Where are you from? Were you born here? You’re not Canadian. Go back home” etc, overtly revealing the deep racism and ignorance of the PNWER delegates and also of the ways in which people of colour are readily cast as threatening Outsiders especially during moments of defiance and resistance.

Most of the passerby’s, however, were quite supportive of the action. Although PNWER delegates were trying to dissuade those passing by from listening to or getting information about the action by making classist
jokes about “professional protestors without jobs”, an overwhelming number of those walking by stayed to talk to and hear about opposition to PNWER, especially given the veil of secrecy surrounding PNWER decision making in light of the significant policy impacts it has from the 2010 Olympics to oil and gas mining. When PNWER delegates attempted to lie to police about assaults on them, two witnesses immediately corrected this information by telling police that it was in fact the PNWER delegates who were dangerously threatening the blockaders.

Although not a major victory, the action was definetely a small and significant victory in creating inconvenience, distress, and powerlessness for those government and corporate elite who have kept their doors closed to us. It is time we close some doors on them.

This action was second in a series of actions targeting the PNWER Summit: on Sunday July 20th a boisterous rally of 40-60 people gathered at the Westin Bayshore Hotel to protest and effectively disrupt the opening reception of the PNWER Summit. Despite heavy police and security presence around the front perimeter of the hotel, the march moved around the hotel’s east side. Although seperated by the hotel metal fence and dozens of police officers, the cozy corporate outdoor dinner reception was completely disrupted with chanting and the banging of pots and pans.

Within one hour, the entire outdoor poolside reception was vacated and pizza deliveries were seen arriving by the end of the rally!

The past four days have seen incredibly effective resistance in not only raising public awareness about PNWER but also inconvenciening and disrupting the PNWER agenda. The PNWER summit is an example of a classic pattern, allowing corporate and political elites to talk about border security, oil and gas mining, natural resource extraction, and the 2010 Olympics in an incredibly secretive manner with absolutely no public input especially from those who will be most affected by these policies.

Agreements like PNWER have real and profound impacts on our society: furthering an agenda of corporate free trade, border militarization, privatization of indigenous land and resources, ecological destruction, repression in the name of national security, impoverishment, and sanctioning occupations.

In the face of such devastating violence, it becomes impossible to remain silent or polite. These few days of action were simply one manifestation of a larger ongoing movement and we continue to be inspired by actions locally and globally that raise awareness about, reject, protest, creatively resist and disrupt this system of colonial and capitalist pillage.

* Text of the Leaflet “Why We Oppose the PNWER Summit” is at:

* The march on Sunday was organized and supported by No One Is Illegal, La Surda Latin American Collective, Council of Canadians BC/Yukon Office, Anti Poverty Committee, Olympics Resistance Network, Komagatamaru Heritage Foundation, Canadian Arab Federation, Siraat Collective, Latin America Connexions Collective, Building Bridges Human Rights Project- Vancouver,, International Iranian Federation of Refugees, Siraat Collective, Cafe Rebelde Coordinating Committee, Bolivia Solidarity Committee, Vancouver Socialist Forum, Vancouver and District Labour Council (VDLC), CUPE Local 1004, Grassroots Women.

* Mainstream Media Coverage of both actions:

1) Canadian Press:

2) Vancouver Sun:

3) CKNW:

Comments are closed.