(Illustration by Mark Todd)

Head for the Hills!

Aiming to ditch those pesky antiglobalists, the G8 elite huddle in backwoods Alberta

Murray Whyte

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ON JUNE 26, the heads of the world’s eight major industrialized democracies—the G8 nations—will meet in the remote tranquility of Kananaskis Village, Alberta, a blip on the map in the middle of a 1,544-square-mile wilderness in the Canadian Rockies. Though Kananaskis is prime turf for the bigwigs to get some fresh mountain air, the remote retreat is also a natural fortress that summit organizers hope will stymie the dreadlocked antiglobalization warriors who rush the gates at almost every big-think gathering, most recently at April 2001’s Summit of the Americas in Quebec City.

Kananaskis is certainly out there. The closest major airport is in Calgary, more than 60 miles to the east, and the Delta Lodge at Kananaskis, the summit’s HQ, can be reached only by a single paved road surrounded by dense forests and mountains. Peaceful protestors plan to confine themselves to a “Solidarity Village,” but anarchy-friendly Web sites are encouraging activists to use “tactics inspired by the Ewoks” to hide in the woods, climb trees, and use mountain bikes to penetrate the makeshift fortress.
Which means security forces are going to have to put a huge swath of backcountry under lockdown. Similar operations were run during the Salt Lake City Olympics, when hundreds of Park Service rangers and federal lawmen were on 24-hour duty in the Utah wilderness. At Kananaskis, a reported $60 million and 6,000 police, including the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Canadian military forces, are being devoted to the cause. Organizers refuse to reveal their strategies, but security experts speculate that helicopters equipped with infrared cameras and spy satellites will scan the woods, and cops on horseback or ATVs will patrol the trails. “We’re prepared for protest in any area,” says Corporal Patrick Webb of the RCMP, “whether it’s on a road, in a valley, or in the forest.”

From Outside Magazine, Jun 2002 Lead Photo: Illustration by Mark Todd

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