Riot police are still on hand, but with only small demonstrations happening Saturday — and no illegal protests, residents, tourists and store owners wanted to take advantage of the sunny weather, after steering clear of the city’s main arteries for the last couple of days.
The city was ready to get back to normal. Shop owners in Old Quebec, who boarded up their stores as a precaution against violent protests, were eager to reopen for business.
“We think that the protesters are going to be very passive,” said Yves Desgagnés, co-owner of Chocolato, Saturday morning, shortly after taking down the boards around his business on Saint-Jean Street.
For many local residents though, the number of riot police in full gear — and the overall cost of security, was overkill, for the few protests that took place.
“It wasn’t fear, just stress. Where? When? OK, are we prepared? OK. And then there was nothing. So this is stressful,” said Melody Bertrand, an employee at Lee Love.
“I think the Summit of the Americas (in 2001) stressed out the police and the city a lot,” she added, making reference to the riots that broke out in Quebec City that year.
Small demonstrations continued Saturday, with several groups trying to bring attention to issues they felt the G7 leaders are not talking enough about.
“Women’s rights and gender equality were supposed to be headline issues for this year’s summit and unfortunately there have been so many distractions,” said Rowan Harvey, an Oxfam gender equality adviser.
Members of Quebec’s Rwandan community hoped the G7 might take something away from Rwanda president Paul Kagame, who is also attending the summit.
“We have 61 per cent women in Parliament (in Rwanda). This is the best country in the world,” said Alain Patrick Ndengera, president of the Rwandan Diaspora in Montreal.
On Saturday, the G7 committed to investing US$3 billion by 2020 in women’s economic empowerment.