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Crossing the Atlantica

Mike Fleury is a riot.

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The Alliance Against Atlantica has been busy preparing for the Atlantica Conference, which runs for three days starting today (June 14-16).

Not surprisingly, they aren't rolling out the welcome mat.

As reported in last week's Coast ("Business displeasure," June 7), Dave Ron and fellow members of the Alliance Against Atlantica aren't pleased with the implications of the proposed trade agreement. Atlantica would establish a zone of freer trade between the Atlantic provinces, Quebec and New England. Proponents describe it as a way to energize the local economy on a global scale.

Critics—like the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives—have argued that it will turn Atlantic Canada into a gateway for goods heading into the US, discourage unionization, increase truck transport, harm the environment and ultimately do little for the Atlantic economy.

It all combines for a tense weekend, with protestors preparing for a major anti-Atlantica demonstration this Friday on the streets of Halifax. The Regional Police have confirmed they will have riot squads on standby.

"There's been a huge flood of out-of-towners coming in for Atlantica events," says Ron. He's anticipating up to 1,000 people for Friday's rally and march, beginning at noon in Victoria Park. "We're already starting to get folks demanding or requesting information about where to go and what's happening, all the way from the United States, New Brunswick, Ontario, Quebec and Newfoundland."

The Alliance is posting their schedule of events at: resist.stopatlantica.org, and Ron encourages interested individuals to spice up their weekend with a bit of civic protest.

"We're arguing for a transition towards a more sustainable, renewable energy-based market economy—smaller, more community based terms, rather than these monolithic Superport, Superhighway kind of terms," he says. "It seems like more and more people are coming around to those alternatives."

Statue of library

An update on the big empty platform outside of the North Branch Public Library, which has been patiently waiting for a funky new piece of public art: it's finally getting its funky new piece of public art. Last week, holes were drilled into the platform outside the library in preparation for the new sculpture, which will be installed over the coming weeks.

Library staff said that the whole project could be installed as early as this Monday, but project manager Nancy Reeder said it might not be quite so soon—"I've heard from the artists, they're aiming to have everything in place by June 25."

In any case, keep an eye on the library over the coming weeks. The statue, as described by artist Doug Bamford in early February, is "a monolith that carries the community's history in fragments, etched into the surface of steel." It also features two human figures, with one figure on top of the wall helping another climb up. Finally, "there's a third figure that stands on the roof of the library—a youth—and he's watching this happen."

We say, without reservation, neat-o. Details are also emerging about the official dedication ceremony, which will be held June 28, starting at 3pm. Downtown councillor Dawn Sloane and mayor Peter Kelly are planning to attend, as is famed poet George Elliot Clarke, who contributed some of the writing that will appear on the face of the monolith. Stay tuned for more deets.

Deet me. Email: mikef@thecoast.ca.

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