anti-ftaa logistics are slowly coming together. But don't expect all plans to pan. "Democracy isn't something that can be pre-packaged in advance. It's something that unfolds," explains Pam Frache, taking a break from her mediating role at last Sunday's Mobilization for Global Justice (Mob4Glob) assembly.
Buses are packed and accommodation is lacking, but the mood is upbeat among the 70 or so scheming activists. Finding that transport supply isn't meeting demand, Mob4Glob is contracting an extra five buses, adding to the 10 they've already filled. Return tickets are $60-$100, sliding scale.
Twenty-one more buses organized by Toronto community groups, students and church organizations have virtually sold out. And there are reportedly at least another 25 coming from other parts of southern Ontario.
On the accommodation front, the Comité d'Accueil du Sommet des Amériques (CASA) and Opération Québec Printemps (OQP) are doing "a phenomenal job of trying to handle everyone," says Frache, noting that sleeping plans will be finalized soon.
"But even if we get a guarantee (for accommodation), it doesn't necessarily mean we have a guarantee," Frache warns, adding that bringing a tent along is a wise precaution. Demonstrators are also expected to bring their own sleeping bags, maps and mess kits. While organizers in Quebec are struggling to provide food, protestors should bring their own just in case.
A call to Stéphane Paquet of OQP reveals that Quebec activists have been able to secure lodging for the 10,000 people who have requested it. The 81 groups who have contacted OQP are assured sleep space. These groups will be notified of the specifics via e-mail over the next few days. About 400 independent travellers are being put up in the homes of volunteers.
Paquet says he's concerned that they haven't got a lot more spaces in reserve, adding that those who haven't already secured sleeping arrangements may be out of luck. But the OQP team is still working to try to find enough room for at least 1,000 more.
"Our people are working around the clock," says Paquet. Two daily meals valued at $10 are to be provided to those with pre-arranged accommodation. OQP and CASA have also planned free outdoor kitchens.
At the Mob4Glob assembly, Hodge emphasizes that those wanting to avoid arrest should stick to the safe-area "Chapiteau" close to the Vieux Port on Friday, April 20, where teach-ins will be conducted throughout the day. The legally sanctioned march taking place at noon on Saturday is also expected to be relatively safe.
Every bus is to have two "bus anchors" responsible for holding onto a list of their fellow passengers' names and numbers. Arrest of anchors must be avoided at all costs, warns Frache. "Running like hell in the opposite direction from the cops is your way, at that historical moment, to be a hero.'
As a double check, "affinity groups" (informal special-interest clusters) are also to appoint someone to hold onto members' contact information. Seniors and those with children should be given better accommodation. Arrangements, however, are not confirmed. "At this age, unfortunately, we're not quite as footloose and fancy free," says 74-year-old Jean Smith, regional coordinator for Mob4Glob. "We'll just have to sleep on the gym floor and bring enough sandwiches to last," she cheerfully adds.
Tickets to Quebec can be purchased by sending a cheque to Toronto Mobilization for Global Justice, c/o the Canadian Federation of Students, 720 Spadina, suite 201, Toronto M5S 2T9. Or show up tomorrow (Friday, April 13) there between noon and 5 pm.