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Monday, 20 August 2007

Only 'virtual protests' allowed at North American summit

Protesters will be "seen and heard" when North American leaders meet next week in Montebello, near Ottawa, but only virtually -- via an audio-video feed set up by organizers.

And the heads of the United States, Canada and Mexico may opt to change the channel.

The arrangement is "in compliance with (a Canadian) court's decision that protesters have a right to be 'seen and heard,'" said Sandra Buckler, a spokeswoman for host Stephen Harper, the prime minister of Canada.

However, the novel plan to give protesters a voice, while maintaining strict security for the talks, has riled protesters being kept out by a fence, three meters (10 feet) high and 2.5-kilometers (1.5 miles) around the meeting place. More...