In Huntsville and surrounding areas, G8 activity continues. The following is a list of sights
and sounds reported by staff that will be updated throughout the day:
3:50 p.m. – It's a wrap
G8 leaders have left for the G20 Summit. Police that dotted the downtown are disappearing. Camera crews and other media have vanished. Only two protesters, carrying signs demanding world leaders designate water as a human right, remain in front of the town hall in Huntsville. The wandering monk is nowhere to be seen. Even the tent that was home to a prayer vigil near the town hall sits empty. The Muskoka G8 Summit has come to an end. It's impact on Muskoka, and the world, remains to be seen. . .
2:25 p.m. Highway to close regularly
According to the OPP, Highway 11 near Huntsville will open and close intermittently throughout the rest of the afternoon. Police advise motorists to avoid the highway for the rest of the day.
2:04 p.m. - Highway 11 lanes closed, again
The Southbound lanes of Highway 11 have been closed once again, with heavy police traffic in the area.
1:55 p.m. – Stephen Harper said ...
Earlier today the prime minister wrapped up the G8, calling it a success and saying there’s no end to the annual gathering of the eight, despite the emerging role of the G20.
“I would seriously doubt that. Last year at this time there was a lot of talk around the table," said Stephen Harper."I think I speak clearly for all the leaders of the G8 in the discussion we had last night specifically about international duties … and I think as we get into the G20 process there is a greater understanding about the necessity of also having a group of like-minded advanced countries who can exchange views in a much less formal session and who can sometimes quickly bring these resources to there that others don’t have in certain types of countries and problems.”
He added there are limits to what can be achieved in a group of 20.
Leaders are now gathering in Toronto and start discussions on the world's economy at a 6: 30 p.m. working dinner.
1:54 p.m. -Media leaving
There's just a couple handfuls of media left inside Deerhurst Resort. Most have cleared out on the 1:45 p.m. bus back to Toronto to make it in time for the G20, which is just hours away. Some leaders are believed to have already left.
1:40 p.m. – What's Russian for absent?
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev wasn't present at the Russian press conference on Saturday afternoon due to a logistics conflict, said attendees. His representative, Arkody Dvorkovich, spoke on his behalf, answering questions from Russian media only. The Forester was one of two Canadian media outlets in the building, though just what was discussed at the short and sweet press conference is uncertain, since it was all in Russian.
1:33 p.m. -Highway 11 re-opened
All lanes of Highway 11 in Huntsville, southbound and northbound, have now re-opened. Police still urge local residents to avoid the highway because of heavy traffic.
1:29 p.m. - G8 leaders release communiqué
The nine-page, 43-point document, entitled the G8 Muskoka Declaration: Recovery and New Beginnings, highlights progress following an economic crisis that exposed vulnerabilities in a global economy; makes a commitment to transparency and follow-up on G8 recommendations, including the Muskoka Accountability Report; supports the development of developing nations, particularly Africa; continues to strive towards achieving Millennium Development Goals by 2015; commits to progress towards improving maternal health; re-affirmed commitment to prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS; commits to global food security planning; supports efforts to curb the illlicit exploitation of natural resources; reiterates willingness to achieve a 50 per cent reduction of globa emissions by 2050 and support UN Framework Convention on Climate Change; and re-affirms commitment to work together for shared security from terrorism.
1:28 p.m. - G8 leaders condemn North Korean attack
G8 leaders have strongly condemned the North Korean attack on a South Korean ship, in the official communiqué from the summit. Forty-six people died after the Cheonan sunk on March 26. North Korea claimed responsibility.
“We condemn, in this context, the attack which led to the sinking of the Cheonan,” reads the communiqué, which demands a cease of all hostile activity against the Republic of Korea. The G8 also spoke out against Iran’s “lack of transparency” in its nuclear program.
The governments of Iran and North Korea have chosen to acquire weapons that threaten their neighbours,” Prime Minister Stephen Harper told reporters at a news conference. “The world must see to it that what they spend on these weapons will not be the only costs that they incur.”
1:23 p.m. - bomb threat
As leaders depart, police are investigating a bomb threat where Highway 60 meets Earls Road in Huntsvile's north end. Police dogs, helicopters and numerous cruisers and motorcycles can be seen combing the area.
1:01 p.m. - Hwy. 11 Northbound opens
Highway 11 northbound lanes are now open. Southbound lanes remain closed to all traffic.
12:57 - Medvedev to speak
Stephen Harper has addressed the media pool in Deerhurst. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev is expected to talk to media there at 1:15 p.m.
12:53 – Highway 11 closed
Highway 11 through Huntsville is closed, with only the occasional police car travelling by, with spectators looking on from ramps and overpasses in the hopes of spotting a departing leader.
12:36 - World Vision praises G8
According to a press release, World Vision is heartened by child and maternal health funding progress achieved during the G8 Summit. World Vision "Believes accountability framework drove commitments lower and likelihood of delivery higher. World Vision is grateful for Canada's leadership and strong commitment to child and maternal health and the G8’s commitment to build the fund to $10 billion. Despite lower-than-expected funding for development from some countries at this summit we refuse to lose sight of the fact that this G8 summit has brought us incrementally closer to meeting the MDGs."
"Every time I read a G8 communiqué or watch an official announcement on the big screen in the media center, the faces of mothers and children I've met in the Congo, Haiti and a dozen other countries flash between me and the screen or the paper. They are the ones who win or lose," said Dave Toycen, CEO World Vision Canada.
Noon - Motorcades leave G8 gates
Several hundred people gathered, starting at about 11 a.m., along Highway 60 near Muskoka Road 3. With umbrellas and cameras, they watched three motorcades, complete with helicopter escort, head out of town. With word from police that the show was over, many in the crowd then started to disperse.
11:32 - Mayor's stroll
Huntsville mayor Claude Doughty walked the streets of town Saturday morning, a route that took him down Main Street and around to River Mill Park. The mayor remarked he was pleased with the reserved atmosphere created by demonstrators the previous day.
11:14 a.m. - Uniformed shoppers
As the G8 Summit winds down, and protesters have dispersed, many of police officers in downtown Huntsville have been caught ... shopping! Officers are in toy stores, browsing through clothing racks, looking over cottage decorations and carrying Muskoka Bear Wear bags.
11:12 a.m. – G8 leaders paint
Last night, G8 Summit leaders tested their artistic talents as they were each asked to brush a stroke of paint on The West Wind mural, thereby completing the collection of community murals. The Business Improvement Association will work with the Summits Management Office to find the perfect home for this mural and accompanying paint brushes.
10:36 a.m. - On the climate change front:
The prime minister’s spokesperson Dimitri Soudas said the issue of climate change was only discussed in brief at dinner Friday night.
It was a “confidential exchange of the views of leaders,” he told reporters in a media briefing Saturday morning.
There will only be short paragraph on the subject in the communiqué.
10:28 a.m. - World leaders will get down to business right
away at the G20 Summit tonight in Toronto.
At a working dinner, leaders will exchange their views on the global economy and how to set policies to improve that going forward.
“The working dinner is … designed to set the context for more specific discussions on Sunday,” according to a spokesperson for the prime minister.
Journalists questioned the focus of the newer summits, which are economic, rather than international development-based.
Countries should still move forward with stimulus spending, said Dimitri Soudas of Harper’s main point, to help the economy bounce back. But he added Canada would encourage countries to handle fiscal deficits by 2013.
Sunday's discussions will centre on financial sector and institutional reforms and the bank tax.
"We believe that things can move ahead a bit fast, a bit more aggressive in order to ensure we close the loop on these things and prevent similar circumstances from occurring. Correcting the errors of the past is very important," said Soudas
9:50 a.m. - Local reporter questions where the action went
Heavy rains appear to have washed away any remnants of protests in Huntsville. "You'd never know anything was going on, other than a few extra cops," quipped one local reporter after touring protest sites and the downtown.
9:35 a.m. - Harper and Obama prepare for G20
The leaders of North America met on Friday night “to compare notes” following the first day of G8 meetings and for the upcoming G20 Summit, the prime minister’s spokesperson confirmed on Saturday morning. “(They) have worked closely together leading up to and during the G8,” said Dimitri Soudas.
9:28 a.m. - What are they saying?
Journalists sequestered in the media lodge watch on television the start of Saturday's G8 discussions. Photographers were allowed in at the start of the meeting before being ushered out. Video of the portions of the meeting open to media were also aired, but with no sound. Watching an energetic conversation between French President Nicolas Sarkozy and a listening U.S. President Barack Obama, some speculated on just what Sarkozy might have been saying. 'My bed here was so lumpy,' suggested one laughing journalist. Another quipped that Sarkozy's second wife might have been the subject of discussion. Talks continue this morning before a final press conference is scheduled around noon.
8:52 -Discussions on nuclear non-proliferation
Nuclear non-proliferation, including the possibility of imposing sanctions on Iran, is leading G8 discussions today, said a spokesperson from the prime minister’s office.
“There is no doubt that the troubling nuclear activities of the Iranian and North Korean regime remain of serious concerns. These are real threat to global security,” said Dimitri Soudas.
He said the prime minister is calling upon all G8 countries to implement UN security council resolution 1929.
Discussions today will build on those at Obama’s recent nuclear summit and the non-proliferation treaty review conference held in May.
The prime minister also wants talks on North Korea, progress on Afghanistan and Pakistan, and discussions on drug and persons trafficking and organized crime, said Soudas.
8:42 a.m. - More toast please
MP Tony Clement tweets that German Chancellor Angela Merkel is relieved she didn't steal his toast during breakfast.
8:34 a.m. - On the outside
Coffee shops have opened and locals have come out to enjoy breakfast, despite the rain. Most of the talk seems to centre around the G8 and how peaceful it's been and the status of the FIFA soccer games. The streets of Huntsville are quiet as many of the protest groups prepare to demonstrate at the G20 in Toronto. Police faithfully continue their foot patrol and police cruisers continue making their rounds. The G8 is expected to wrap up around noon today.
7:38 a.m. - Canada pays off part of Haiti's debt
Canada has cancelled Haiti’s debt – the first country to do so.
The prime minister announced yesterday that Canada paid off U.S. $33 million share of Haiti’s debt to international banks.
Canada asked for the full cancellation of Haiti’s debt following the January 2010 earthquake.
Pre-earthquake, Canada had already forgiven a national debt the small island country owed the nation. Haiti owes $825 million to international financial institutions.
7: 25 a.m. - Leaders resume meetings
There’s no day off for G8 leaders. Representatives from the world’s largest economic powers were scheduled to start working again this morning to finish the short summit. Again, a small pool of media – up to four from each country – were invited to photograph the start of the session. The media activities and the summit appear to close at noon today with the chair’s press conference at 12 p.m. at Deerhurst. Leaders will be taken out by helicopter in staggered shifts today.
Saturday, June 26 (Day 2): 7 a.m. - Where is Sarkozy?
French president Nicolas Sarkozy must be out for a jog, a security guard was overheard saying about 6: 30 a.m. Saturday morning, after catching site of a golf cart. The world leaders have been quite active here. United Kingdom prime minister David Cameron went swimming yesterday and for a run this morning, it’s been reported.
7:25 p.m. - More funding announced for maternal and child health.
G8 members are committing $5 billion for maternal and child health funding over the next five years, said Prime Minister Stephen Harper at the end of the first day of the summit. Canada has committeed to $2.85 billion but only $1.1 billion is considered new money. Another $2.3 billion is being pledged from other countries and foundations. Harper referred to the first day as productive. "We encourage other countries and foundations to join us," he said of the funding announcement.
6:07 p.m. - Prime Minister Stephen
Harper is holding a press conference at 6:30 p.m. at Deerhurst Resort.
5:26 p.m. - Motorcade goes through town
Main Street was closed as a motorcade passed through downtown Huntsville, turning towards the Canada Summit Centre, where the youth summit is currently being held.
4:31 p.m. - Russians at Tall Trees
The president of Russia and his delegation enjoyed dinner at Tall Trees in Huntsville, says Parry Sound-Muskoka’s member of Parliament.
“He, up close, saw what we lived with,” said Clement, adding he thanked Dmitry Medvedev, who is the only head of state so far who has dined in the community. Barack Obama meanwhile told Clement he would love to come back for a visit – especially because it look likes there’s good golf here. This was the first time the MP had met Obama, who he described as relaxed and engaging.
4:27 p.m. - Sirens, smoke, lights
A crowd gathered as flashing emergency lights, smoke, police and sirens filled a downtown intersection. Turned out it was a Jeep with an engine fire. A group of disappointed media took pictures of each other, and quickly dispersed.
4:14 p.m. – Clement on Cameron
The Brits are on time. UK prime minister David Cameron was the first person to arrive at Deerhurst, said Tony Clement. He and the Parry Sound-Muskoka MP talked World Cup.
3:54 - Harper's announcement
The Harper government has pledged a $2.85 billion commitment to maternal and child health over the next five years, $1.1 billion of it new.
Called the Muskoka Initiative on maternal, newborn and child health, the hope is to garner funding and support from other G8 nations and countries around the world to reduce maternal and infant mortality and improve the health of mothers and children in the world’s poorest countries.
Accountability is a huge part of getting results, said Harper in a three-minute speech to the media at the start of the G8 working session with African leaders. Harper invited the heads of African nations: Algeria, Egypt, Ethiopia, Malawi, Nigeria, Senegal and South Africa.
“We must follow through on our initiatives,” said Harper.
Added Parry Sound-Muskoka member of Parliament Tony Clement, “A lot of promises are made at these summits, how do we measure what we’ve actually achieved.”
The rest of the afternoon working session was closed to the public.
In his short speech, Harper praised “the natural beauty and hospitality for which this region of the country is well known.”
He also stressed the importance of the G8 “for the wide-ranging, frank .... discussions between old allies and long-time friends.”
Security issues and nuclear non-proliferation, terrorism and organized crime are also important topics on the agenda, said Harper.
3:40 p.m. – No one's late for 'family photo'
No one was late to the family photo at this year's G8 Summit. All 10 representatives walked to the green together and posed for the annual official photo in front of a picturesque Pen Lake, a white G8 logo imprinted in the golf green in the foreground. The atmosphere was relaxed after reporters snapped the leaders’ photos, with German Chancellor breaking off from the group to speak to a scrum of German reporters.
3:17 - youth message
Twenty-seven youth from across Canada have been selected to attend the youth G8 and G20 Summits. These delegates were selected from over a thousand youth who attended Global Leaders Centres from coast-to-coast-to-coast earlier this year. During the G-8 component of MY SUMMIT 2010 youth delegates will discuss, debate and negotiate the same themes that will be considered at the G-8 Leaders’ Summit.Terry Clifford, President and Founder of Global Vision Junior Team Canada said “ MY Summits 2010 is an opportunity for our young leaders to open up the dialogue on the issues that are really their issues.” The debates will culminate in the development of a final communiqué addressing maternal health, food security, nuclear proliferation and climate change. Jackie Cook, of Saskatoon Saskatchewan, has been selected as the representative of the Canadian delegation to present to the G-8 leaders later today at Deerhurst; while Zac McCue, of Curve Lake First Nations, will present the communiqué to Governor General Michaëlle Jean, who will then deliver it to the Head of State on her visit this summer.
3 p.m. – Welcome, Haitian president
Michaelle Jean, Governer General of Canada, greeted Rene Preval, president of the Republic of Haiti, and his wife Elisabeth on the lawn of Delta Grandview Resort, overlooking Fairy Lake, on Friday afternoon. Jean and Preval sat down for a private meeting, however the media was invited for a photo op and allowed to stay for the first few minutes of their talk. Preval indicated that he was very happy with Jean’s recent appointment as UNESCO special envoy for Haiti. Jean responded saying the position will be challenge, but she is very happy to help. While Preval congratulated Jean about her appointment over the phone, this is the first time the two have met in person since the announcement earlier this week.
2:45 p.m. – Piping in the summit
Huntsville piper, Michel Vollans, adds to the festive atmosphere on Main Street.
“I wanted to do something nice with some cultural flare. People are being so silly about this whole thing. I just want to say, ‘Welcome to Huntsville,’” he said.
–Water, water everywhere and not a drop?
A potable water truck, in army green, was spotted turning onto Main Street. Perhaps they didn’t get the water activist’s memo about the incredible wealth of fresh water in Muskoka.
Members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community travelled from the GTA to take part in the G8 Prayer Vigil at Trinity United Church. They received an invitation from local religious leaders to join in prayer and were pleased to make the trip. Their global message is “Love for all; hatred for none.”
Karen May of Huntsville has already hugged more than 100 people. The free huggers have taken a space of sidewalk on Main Street, have festooned it with chalk art in the name of peace, and are dispersing kindness and bubbles upon passersby. They didn’t want to quantify their goals for today, but expect to easily hug more than a 1,000 people.
2:42 p.m. – All's quiet on the eastern front
Those travelling along Highway 60 from Dwight can get as far as Morgans Road before they're asked to turnaround. Folks in Dwight report that with the exception of fire trucks and police cruisers and campers, everything is eerily quiet in the community on the other side of the red zone where leaders are meeting.
2:37 p.m. – Tony's Tweets
From inside Deerhurst Resort, Industry Minister and Parry Sound - Muskoka MP Tony Clement Tweeted: "Latest parade: 40 Canada geese just waddled across green in front of POTUS landing area."
And an ealier Tweet: "UK PM Cameron went swimming in the real lake this morning at Deerhurst."
And earlier still: "welcomed President Obama to Muskoka. He promised he'd bring Michelle & the kids for his next visit. "Your District is beautiful!"
And one more: "Mayor's wife Kim got a big hug from President Obama for attending his Inauguration."
2:28 p.m. - Preparing for group shot
From inside Deerhurst: It appears the family phpoto is imminent. Harper and his leader friends are ambling down the lush greens of Deerhurst, chatting away.
2:25 p.m. - Water not on G8 agenda
From inside Deerhurst: A Muskoka-born resolution to make water a human right will not make the G8 agenda, G8 sherpa Len Edwards confirmed at a press conference today.
Meanwhile, maternal and infant health continues to be a top priority. According to reports, Harper is expected to announce a $1-billion commitment to a maternal and infant health program, which does not include abortion funding.
2:20 p.m. – 'It's like a carnival out there'
Several hundred people have gathered in downtown Huntsville. Clowns, bagpipes, people sharing free hugs and music have created a carnival-like atmosphere on the main street. Huntsville Mayor Claude Doughty was spotted doing a television interview amid the hubbub.
2 p.m. – Makeup for Berlusconi?
While some leaders arrived late to Deerhurst, before officially welcoming his guests, Prime Minister Stephen Harper scored some one-on-one time with United Kingdom Prime Minister David Cameron, Japan Prime Minister Naoto Kan and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. Waiting to snap the photo, a seasoned photographer nearby remarked that Berlusconi is believed to wear makeup to official shots such as these.
1:40 p.m. – Inside Deerhurst
Huntsville Forester reporter Carli Whitwell reported, from inside Deerhurst, that reporters and photographers driven by bus from the media "lodge" to Deerhurst's main entrance - normally about a 15 minute walk - waited for an hour for Prime Minister Stephen Harper to officially welcome G8 leaders to the summit. He met them individually one-by-one in front of a red G8 sign in front of the transformed Deerhurst Resort. Police were stationed on the rooftop of the building and security was everywhere. The traditional G8 family photo for a select pool of media is scheduled to take place at 2 p.m., though the earlier welcoming shot was almost an hour late. Before greeting the leaders, Harper posed for cameras, remarking that it was a beautiful day.
"Media centre is more quiet right now.....Peter Mansbridge is behind me" she wrote.
1 p.m - Harper welcomes leaders
Prime Minister Stephen Harper officially welcomed all the G8 leaders, with cameras flashing, before media were escorted back to the media area within Deerhurst Resort.
12:53 p.m. - Student protest forming
A group of students are gathering near Highway 60, and preparing to head towards security gates on the roadway.
12:41 p.m. – Money for maternal health?
Harper is expected to launch the summit on a good note: He's expected to announce more than $1 billion for a maternal and child health initiatives. G8 Summit issues to be discussed include the global economy, drug trafficking, Iran's nuclear program and the health of women and children.
12:30 p.m. - Activity at protest site - kind of
If you are looking for a nice, quiet country place to get away from the hustle and bustle downtown created by the G8, the free speech zone is one place to check out as of Friday afternoon.
There were only three ‘protesters’ at the summit designated speech zone as of noon today. Former activists Pat Alcock, Harold Keeton and Jean Hunter, all from Huntsville, held aloft signs proclaiming “Feed The Hungry, Not the G8” while a number of media personnel swarmed them. The three were easily outnumbered by the number of reporters and police officers assigned to cover the region.
12:19 p.m. - Sarkozy at Deerhurst
French President Nicolas Sarkozy passed into Deerhurst in a motorcade decorated with French flags, with a military helicopter overhead and surrounded by OPP motorcycles.
12:10 p.m. - African leaders welcomed
Canada’s Governor General Michaelle Jean welcomed African leaders to Huntsville on Friday afternoon. The group from Algeria, Senegal, Malawi, South Africa, Nigera and Ethopia attended a working lunch with Jean at Delta Grandview Resort, and is here attending a special session of the G8. Jean will be welcoming Haitian president Rene Preval later today, and then will wrap up her visit by speaking with the G8 youth summit delegates this evening.
12:01 p.m. - Sarkozy arrives - possibly a little late
French President Nicolas Sarkozy was spotted at the Muskoka Airport in Gravenhurst at 11:40 a.m. - possibly a late arrival. Prime Minister Stephen Harper was scheduled to officially welcome all G8 leaders at Deerhurst at noon. Governor General Michaelle Jean was seen getting off a plane at the airport a few minutes earlier.
noon – Dogs on patrol
In addition to air support, there are roving canine units as well: police.
11:51 a.m. – Planes and helicopters
Fighter jets and military copters continue to do fly-overs above Deerhurst and Highway 60.
10:50 a.m. – Motorcade passes reporter
Forester reporter Pamela Steel stood roadside on Highway 11 near Lindgren Road as a motorcade passed. She asked a nearby officer who was being escorted. He said he would tell her who it was as soon as he passed, but then quickly took off on his motorcycle, shouting something intelligible over his shoulder as he took off after the vehicles.
10:50 a.m. - Media watching soccer
Media inside Deerhurst are seconded in a fenced in media area, snacking and watching soccer. Only four photographers per country from the media pool will have access to photo opportunities, they've been told.
10:48 a.m. – Motorcade on Highway 11
Several motorcades are headed up Highway 11 near Stephenson Road. Speculation is it's Obama.
10:46 a.m. – Trending on twitter:
On Thursday, the G8 couldn't be found on Twitter's trending topics. Today, #g8 has hit number seven on the trending list. But G20 is trending at five and Michael Jackson and Christiano Ronaldo still top the hot list. Neither the G8 nor the G20 has made the trending topic list for the US nor worldwide.
10:41 - Obama update
U.S. president is expected to travel to Muskoka this morning. He will be attending the G8 leaders' working lunch and later pose for a G8 family photo. The president is then expected to participate in a working session with African Outreach Leaders and Extended Outreach Leaders.
10:40 - Paramedics line Highway 11
The Forester received word that ambulances are positioned on side roads
along Highway 11. A short drive to Lindgren road proved the rumour to
be true. Paramedics Geordie Heath and Darrell Phinney said they had
been told to stand-by at this location.
Moments later a motorcycle cop stopped at the side road and a motorcade passed was escorted by on the highway headed north.
10:40 a.m. -CP reporter writes about his experience
A veteran news reporter was detained for hours at a checkpoint as he was coming into town yesterday.
Terry Pedwell, a 20-year member of The Canadian Press, wrote that he was held up by uniformed police officers who found a gas mask and vest in the trunk of his car. The equipment, he told the officers, was standard equipment issued by CP for covering demonstrations that could get out of hand.
After hours of being detained, Pedwell said he was offered a deal by police: he could videotape the bomb-sniffing dog used on his car by officers, but they would have to keep him there while they took the idea of taping the dog up the chain of command, or he could forgo the taping and leave immediately. Pedwell chose to leave.
10:27 - Obama lands in Toronto
According to The Globe and Mail, US. President Barack Obama just landed in Toronto.
10:20 a.m – Waiting for Obama
From inside Deerhurst resort – only French President Nicolas Sarkozy and US President Barack Obama have yet to arrive on site.
10:10 - Students get their G8 groove on
As things heat up at Deerhurst, students at V.K. Greer hold a mock summit. Teachers Terri Howell and Kirsten Conner lead their Grade 6/7 class through debates and discussions. Each student represents a leader from the G8/G20 summits.
Although the village school was one of the few in the Huntsville area with buses running today, five per cent of the students were kept out of school for G8-related reasons. Few cited security as a concern; more families took a family holiday because their businesses are closed for the summit.
10 a.m. – At the protest site ...
At the government's official protest site in the North end of Huntsville there are many Port-a-Potties, eight police officers on foot, four police cruisers, CTV, Gloval and CBC television cameras and not a single protester. "Apparently protesters aren't interested in talking to trees..," one media broadcaster was overheard saying.
9:20 a.m. – Waterkeepers join protest
A group of local residents who want G8 leaders to discuss protecting the world's water supply joined downtown protests. See video.
9 a.m. - Highway police
Police cruisers and ambulances dot Highway 11, at regular intervals every few kilometres, from the airport in Gravenhurst to Huntsville.
8:50 a.m. - Protesters on Main Street
Oxfam unveiled it's paper maché big heads - they are now marching down Main Street in downtown Huntsville. This time, the recreated big heads are on fully clothed bodies, unlike yesterday's appearance when they appeared "naked" and "pregnant". See video
8:39 a.m. - Monk released
Japanese monk Sekiguchi Toyochige has been released from the OPP cruiser he was sitting in and is now hanging his cloth sign on a provincial road sign along Highway 60.
8:37 a.m. – message from the Prime Minister
Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Director of Communications, along with a senior governmental official, will hold a press briefing for national and international media at 11:30 a.m. on the G-8 summit. Only media accredited for the International Media Centre and part of the official media pool will have access to the briefing room at the Deerhurst Resort, according to the press release. The briefing will be broadcast via the host broadcaster back to the International Media Centre. The Prime Minister’s Director of Communications will be available to respond to questions from media in Deerhurst.
8:25 a.m. – World's media arrives
Buses carrying the national and international media who will enter Deerhurst Resort to cover the G8 Summit were seen entering the gates.
8:13 a.m. – Roaming monk in cop cruiser
Sekiguchi Toyoshige, a Buddhist monk from Hokkaido, Japan, who has been roaming around Huntsville with a drum and message of peace since he made a 100-mile trek to the area on foot from Toronto, was spotted in the back seat of a police cruiser near the checkpoint on Highway 60. His sign sat, in a small pile with other belongings, outside the car near a rock cut.
7:52 a.m. - "Big heads" to make morning appearance
Oxfam's big G8 heads, paper maché depictions of the G8 leaders, are scheduled to make an appearance in River Mill Park in downtown Huntsville at 8:30 a.m. They will sit near a sign giving the fake leaders options – turning towards the future, or turning away as billions of the world's people starve, according to an Oxfam press release handed to Huntsville Forester staff at the site. National media are sitting at the site, waiting for the big heads to appear.
7:30 a.m.-What's on at Summit Centre
Huntsville’s Canada Summit Centre does have a role to play during the G8 Summit, insists Parry Sound-Muskoka member of Parliament Tony Clement.
“It’s being used for things I can’t go into detail about ... for security logistics, let’s just put it that way,” said Clement.
The renovated community centre, which now has an Olympic-sized ice pad, is also the location of the finale concert of the international youth summit Friday night.
However that’s a far cry from the role the town had anticipated it playing when it first applied for federal funding.
Back when it had applied for the G8 legacy funding, the municipality had pitched the idea of using the renovated facility as media centre during the summit.
However, as the summit neared, and with the announcement of the G20, it became clear that Toronto would remain the headquarters.
The nearby University of Waterloo building is being used as office space for the Summits Management Office. It will also be used during the youth summit, confirmed a summit spokesperson.
7 a.m. – Deerhurst a mini-nation
"It's been two years almost to the day since Canada's prime minister came to Deerhurst Resort to make the summit site selection announcement and the start of the G8 tomorrow," says Deerhurst general manager Joseph Klein. "We've had time to coordinate the complex logistics that are part of any major gathering like the G8," notes Klein. "Now it's show time, and our entire Deerhurst team is thrilled that what we and many consider the best Ontario meeting facility is being used to showcase Muskoka to the world."
While the world's attention is focused on the decisions made by the eight leaders at the centre of the summit, Deerhurst is demonstrating its flexibility by serving about 3,000 meals a day in eight different on-site venues to the support staff, RCMP, hotel team and media who accompany them. It has seen its spa transformed into an on-site first aid and emergency care centre. Deerhurst is juggling the demands of this executive retreat for 10 of the world's most important clients (the G8 Summit includes the presidents of the European Council and the European Commission) with its peak summer meetings, golf tournament and school holiday season.
"Right now and for the duration of Canada's G8 Summit, think of Deerhurst as a small self-contained nation with eight embassies," says Klein. "Each country has their own needs and preferences. But whether it's the G8 Summit for prime ministers and presidents, or meeting for any other client, the hotel essentials stay the same: functional space, efficient service, a comfortable place to sleep and work, and satisfying food. And that's what Deerhurst will continue to deliver, this G8 Summit weekend and beyond."
Friday, June 25 (Day 1): 6:30 a.m. –All quiet in downtown Huntsville
The G8 officially starts today, with Prime Minister Stephen Harper welcoming his fellow G8 leaders at 11:45 a.m. at Deerhurst Resort. Friday morning downtown Huntsville is very quiet. You wouldn't know the G8 was here if it wasn't for the police cars sitting, watching, at almost every corner.
7:30 p.m. Girl 8 concert kicks off
The Girl 8 concert draws a crowd to River Mill Park near downtown Huntsville. The concert features Meg Jordan, the Huntsville Youth Choir, Jaime Payne and Sarah McNeil, Sarah Spring with Amanda Penner, Christine Heron, Tina Turley with Sherisse Stevens and band, Linda McLean, Ruth Cassie with Ivan Blackbird, and punctuated by Huntsville High School student films themed on water.
Thursday, 5:20 p.m - the art of protest
Performance artist Dick Averns is walking around town with his own street sign, Ambivalence Boulevard. Averns hails from Calgary, but for the next couple of days he’s bush camping with 3 other artists near Deerhust Resort where the leaders are meeting. They are all part of Near North Mobile Media Lab. The group is live streaming video to their website and to 12 art galleries around Canada during the G8.
The artist carries his message: that ambivalence should be engagement.
“People are apathetic,” he said, adding that to him, apathy is the opposite of ambivalence.
5 p.m. – The monk wears Nikes
Buddhist monk, Sekiguchi Toyoshige, has become a common site in Huntsville. He will leave tomorrow, but in the meantime he’s spreading his message of world peace and gracefully receiving kind wishes and support from the people of Huntsville.
Canal Road cottager June Sommers slipped the monk a gift while he chatted with her house guest Kennedy Jawoko of Uganda. Jawoko is in town as part of the CBC’s journalist forces on the ground for the event. Sommers was thrilled to see Toyoshige; he reminds her of her travels in the far east where she often stayed at monasteries.
She said it was important for people to understand that Buddhist monk’s rely on the kindness of strangers for everything from shelter to food to the Nike running shoes on this monk’s feet.
3:40 p.m. – Governor general coming
The governor-general is lunching with African leaders and meeting with the president of the Republic of Haiti tomorrow at Delta Grandview Resort.
Michaëlle Jean will host a working luncheon with the leaders from African nations who were invited to the summit by Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
Later that day, she will meet with President René Préval from Haiti.
Both events take place at Grandview.
3:15 p.m. –Bill and Melinda Gates know where Muskoka is?
On the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation website, Melinda wrote: The G8 summit gets underway tomorrow in Muskoka, Canada. It’s exciting
that a focus of the summit is a new G8 initiative – conceived and led
by Canada – to improve maternal, newborn, and child health in poor
countries. Visit http://www.gatesfoundation.org/foundationnotes/Pages/melinda-gates-100624-committing.aspx to read the entire post.
3 p.m. - Submarine spotted
Looking out from the deck of Hidden Valley Resort, just outside of Deerhust Resort where G8 leaders will meet and spend the night, Hidden Valley general manager Nick Ribeiro and director of sales Jo-Anne Mcgovern describe a military and police zone of heavy, non-stop traffic. Staff at the resort have spotted a submarine submerging in Penn Lake several times. A launch pad floating on the water has been the landing site for military helicopters. “And of course, you have zillions of boats going in and out of the water, military helicopters flying low all day and all night, and police and army people everywhere,” says Mcgovern. The resort, fully booked since early June, has been home to military staff, contractors and Canadian government employees.
4:15 p.m. - Council of Canadians say scrap the summits
canoes containing Council of Canadian members and board chair Maude
Barlow headed towards restricted waters in Pen Lake but were turned
around just before the canal connecting Fairy Lake to Pen by OPP marine
patrols. OPP Commissioner Julian Fantino, who was on the scene on one
of the patrol boats, approached one of the pontoon boats containing
media and when asked for a quote, said: "You are not practicing safe
boating." Minutes later, council members were asked to turn around, but
not before Barlow managed to deliver a letter to the prime minister.
"One billion dollars could be better spent on any number of urgent
international priorities such as providing access to clean drinking
water worldwide and immediate action to address climate change," read
2:12 p.m. Police boats meet canoeists
According to Council of Canadians member Dylan Penner's tweets, police boats have joined helicopters where the protest group is launching a flotilla of canoes in Fairy Lake. "Apparently a canoe flotilla is such a national security threat, 2 police boats and 2 helicopters are needed," he wrote.
Russian motorcade fills up
A Russian motorcade had to stop for gas on Highway 60 before arriving at Deerhurst Resort early Thursday afternoon.
While some delegates got out of their cars and vans to snap photos of the area ‹including a picture of one posing in a Bell telephone booth ‹ no one, except a front-seat passenger exited a limousine that had dark curtains drawn across the back windows.
The delegates would not share who was in the limo.
1:52 - Protesters getting in the water
According to Council of Canadians member Dylan Penner's Tweets, protesters planning to float a fleet of canoes on Penn Lake are getting into the water - under scrutiny.
"Loading canoe flotilla now to challenge g8 in Huntsville. Just had a black helicopter do a low flyover," he Tweeted.
1:30 p.m -Monk visits G8 flags
Rev. Sekiguchi Toyoshige, a Buddhist monk from Hokkaido, Japan, stands, beating his drum, in front of the flags representing G8 nations at Centre Street and West Road in Huntsville. Toyoshige walked 100 miles on foot, a one-man peace walk, from Toronto to Huntsville, arriving in Huntsville on Tuesday. He has since been spotted in town several times, including on Highway 60 leading up to Deerhurst resort where the summit will take place Friday and Saturday.
The Huntsville/Lake of Bays Fire Department is already busy, though the G8 Summit hasn’t officially started.
Assistant fire chief Terry Joiner said the organization has helped police with a suspicious package, though authorities said it wasn’t G8-related.
Firefighters are stationed at all six fire stations around Huntsville and Lake of Bays as well as three additional sites: in Ravenscliff; at Brunel and Britannia roads; and South Portage Road.
That’s to provide fast response to residents, said Joiner, which may not have been possible due to the high volumes of traffic and people expected.
Firefighters are on 12, 16 and 24-hour shifts, he added.
As such the municipality has called in reinforcements from neighbouring detachments such as Caledon, Minto, Saugeen Shores and Central Wellington.
They’ve dealt with chimney fires, smoke alarm calls, burning complaints and a car accident.
The municipality has signed a contract with the federal government to recoup the costs.
The agenda: Getting down to business at Deerhurst
We’ve known for some time that world leaders won’t be visiting ice cream shops or browsing in our Muskoka gift shops, but just how they would be spending the summit time at Deerhurst has remained a mystery ‹ until now.
This week, G8 organizers the Summits Management Office posted the media program for those reporters inside the summit.
Only about 200 journalists are allowed inside Deerhurst for the summit, which takes place tomorrow and Saturday.
Some dignitaries are expected to arrive today. Parry Sound-Muskoka member of Parliament Tony Clement says he and Huntsville mayor Claude Doughty will greet them as they arrive at Deerhurst on helicopters.
Tomorrow morning, the photo shoots begin.
At 11:45 a.m., the prime minister will official welcome G8 leaders to Deerhurst.
That’s followed by the now infamous G8 family photo at 2 p.m. Last year at the G8 Summit in L’Aquila, Italy Stephen Harper was late for the posed photograph.
Following the group photo, Harper will extend the same greeting to African leaders. He invited them last week to discuss international development and peace and security issues. That photo op is followed by a working session with them.
The third official welcome of the day takes place at 2:45 p.m. That’s followed by a G8 working session and a giant family photo.
Saturday, media are allowed to attend a working session that starts at 9 a.m. The day finishes with a chair’s press conference at 12 p.m., which is open to all media.
Protesters arriving, protest site empty
OXFAM arrived and revealed its paper maché reproductions of G8 leaders at River Mill Park in Huntsville on Thursday morning. The figures, naked, pregnant, with red maple leaves covering their significant parts, posed for photos on a park gazebo. Meanwhile, the designated protest area - on a back road far from where the meetings will take place - sits empty so far.
Water-bound protest this afternoon
A group of demonstrators are taking to the waters of Huntsville today.
About a dozen members of The Council of Canadians are paddling a flotilla of four canoes to the canal entrance at the end of Fairy Lake, says regional organizer Mark Calzavara.
Deerhurst Resort, the site of the summit, is located on Peninsula Lake, which is connected by canal to Fairy Lake.
The small fleet plans to enter the water at Huntsville Marina on Highway 60 at 1:30 p.m. today.
The Council of Canadians is a citizens’ organization that seeks fair trade, clean water, and public health care, among other social and economic concerns.
According to prairie regional organizer Scott Harris, the council is calling on the G8 to scrap the summits, adding there are better forums for discussion.
They are one of a handful of protests believed to be planned for today.
This morning, Oxfam unveiled its G8 Big Heads of the world leaders.
“We will pass our message there and turn back if we are not allowed farther,” said Calzavara in an email response.
Bad time to sell realty? A local agent went out to show a Main Street retail property on Wednesday and discovered he had bad timing. When he pulled to the curb, two officers surrounded his car and peered in the windows, searching the exterior of the vehicle. Not a word was said to him by the officers. He noted being a bit freaked out.
Thursday, June 24 -Flag watchers? At the intersection of West Road and Centre Street sit two OPP cars, and they've been there steadily for the last day and a half. While they might be watching traffic, they also might be watching the lovely little parkette that has flags representing all of the world powers that will be at the G8 summit.