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Protests greet summit leaders
Some 10,000 people march in Toronto as G20 leaders gather.
Last Modified: 26 Jun 2010 20:35 GMT
Many Canadians are angry over the huge costs of staging the G8 and G20 summits [AFP]

G20 leaders meeting in the Canadian city of Toronto are being greeted by demonstrators drawn from different groups with divergent demands.

About 10,000 of them marched through the streets on Saturday, highlighting issues like indigenous rights, poverty and climate change.

"In Toronto, we are taking a stand in solidarity with people all across this planet," John Clarke, a protester, told Al Jazeera.

"If people can put their lives on the line to break the siege of Gaza, we can put up with these ... without too much problem", he said, pointing towards a line of riot police guarding the summit venue.

Some protesters scuffled with police who banged their clubs against plastic shields.

Five protesters were arrested at a seperate march on Friday.

Security costs

Avi Lewis, Al Jazeera's correspondent covering the protests, said many were angry at the money spent on the summit.

"One of the flash points has been the cost of the summit itself, it sparked a tremendous amount of outrage here in Canada, " he said.

"A recent poll showed that 78 per cent of Canadians thought the cost of the summit was unacceptable."

Security for the G8 and G20 summits has cost Canadian tax payers more than $1bn.

"In the last two G20 summits in Pittsburgh and London, the combined security cost was $25 million.

There is a feeling on the streets that this could be the most expensive and wasteful photo-op in the history of humanity," our correspondent said.

Liisa Schofield, a protest organiser, said that money spent on the summit should have been been used to provide shelter for homeless people.

"There is 10,000 people who live on the streets of Toronto and there are 70,000 people on the waiting list for social housing."

The money the Canadian government has decided to spend on this summit "could have paid for all 80,000 people who are currently without proper housing to live in a proper apartment for a year," she said.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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