As Formula One racing expands around the globe, we've come to expect certain potential disruptions. Demonstrators in Bahrain scuttled last year's grand prix there, and nearly did the same again this year. Violent crime in Brazil has caused some issues at that country's F1 race as well. And over in the rally raid column, threats from al-Qaeda forced the Dakar Rally to move from North Africa to South America. But in Canada? Peaceful, non-threatening Canada?
That's the issue that racers and fans alike could be facing next week as Montreal gears up for the Canadian Grand Prix. You see, F1 racing isn't the only thing taking to the streets of Montreal this summer, as student protests have plagued the city's downtown core in particular. The protests are over proposed tuition hikes for universities in the province of Quebec, sending Montreal's notoriously militant student activists into the streets banging pots and pans, refusing to go back to class and clashing with local police.
The issue has pitted the students against the provincial government and wreaked havoc on businesses in the city's downtown area, but could threaten one of its biggest tourism draws as activists have issued calls to disrupt the grand prix next week. The threat leaves premier Jean Charest, leader of the provincial government that has traditionally enjoyed strong backing from business leaders, in a difficult bargaining position: either give in to the protestors or wait and see what they do when the tourists pour into town for the grand prix.