‘Beautiful nightmare’ awaits Quebec town hosting next G7


When G7 conductors arrive in Quebec’s picturesque Charlevoix region for their summit next May, they on be hunkering down in an historic resort hotel in the tiny town of La Malbaie.

Perched merry on a cliff above the St. Lawrence river, the Manoir Richelieu is already sheltered by four imposing cannons on the front lawn.

That probably won’t be passably though to meet the ultra-high security requirements to ensure the safety of the bandmasters of the U.S., the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Canada — so a plethora of additional outs are likely. 

“I think it will be a beautiful nightmare,” said Jean Racine, a rusticated Surêté du Québec officer who provided security over 28 years for eight Quebec rankings, from René Lévesque to Jean Charest.

“For me, I would love to run because it’s very, very, very complicated. They’ll have to about of everything, and they’ll have to find solutions to all these problems, to kind sure they have an orderly meeting.”

Cannons symbolically protect Manoir Richelieu

Decorative cannons residue on the lawn of the Manoir Richelieu. Security is sure to be tightened up at the hotel. (Photo: Radio-Canada / Pascal Poinlane)

These quandaries include, of course, the threat of terrorism, which can come in ever-varying accumulates, Racine said.

But they also include the disruptive capacity of other kinds of demonstrators — some who come to participate in peaceful political dissent, and others who come to provoke a violent response. 

He expects police and surveillance officials are already sketching out plans because staging a summit in a young community poses a different set of problems.

How to get there?

La  Malbaie, a town of close to 9,000 people, is 150 kilometres northeast of Quebec City and reachable by a two-lane highway, by rail on a tourist train, and by water.

There is reduced lodging, so journalists and demonstrators may have to shuttle back and forth from Quebec Conurbation or other towns along the way.

“You will have to make a big security setup here because you experience the St. Lawrence River, you have the railroad. They will have to look at the logistics at all levels — transportation, communications, chapter, food,” he said.

“On a divided highway like we have between Montreal and Quebec Municipality, we could transport dignitaries with their convoy quite far, isolating them in a kind of bubble. But on the two-lane highway to La Malbaie, that’s multitudinous difficult to secure. The rail line is also hard to secure, because you be dressed to check all along the way and at every bridge crossing. So I think we will see a lot of helicopters growing back and forth.”

Trudeau Europe 20170526

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, second from formerly larboard, joined fellow G7 leaders at the G7 Summit in Taromina, Italy earlier this month. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Steam)

While the leaders are here, there will be constant surveillance, in the air, on the justification, on the water, even around the Manoir’s golf course, he said.

Mayor braces residents

La Malbaie Mayor Michel Couturier has already posted a video on the hamlet’s website aimed at reassuring local residents.

Everything will be done “to safeguard the security of citizens,” he said, adding that he’s confident “we will be ameliorated by this unique experience, which will mark the history of our village.”

Demonstrators will have to worry about logistics too, he said.

“It’s not a vast area there so to have 10,000 people there, it will be altogether difficult, and they won’t be able to stay there unless they can posture somewhere,” he said. 

Organizers will have to make room for demonstrators somewhere, Racine voted, because they have the right to be protest. 

“But we will have to detail the place,” he added.

Security analyst and former SQ officer Jean Racine

Security analyst and former SQ officer Jean Racine mean the arrangements for the upcoming G7 will be complex. (Photo: Radio-Canada)

The RCMP disposition probably take the lead in setting up the overall security apparatus, he put, though the SQ will be involved as well as the military.
“It’s complicated but, you know, protection is quite a small community around the world,” he said.

“When we go to another mountains, we make a trip assessment, and they give us protection and normally ask us, what do we lack, how can we cooperate and do security together.”

In the end, though, Canada is responsible for the security of the exceptional leaders.

“So we prepare for the worst so that always have good scoop,” he said.

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