TORONTO (Reuters) - Toronto police arrested a man near the G20 meeting site on Thursday whose car contained a chainsaw, crossbow and fuel containers, but officials said later the case did not appear to be tied to the summit.
The 53-year-old man was pulled over just a block from where tall steel fences have been erected to protect leaders of the Group of 20 advanced and emerging economies who meet on Saturday and Sunday in Canada’s most populous city.
The battered silver sedan had a large crate strapped to its roof. Also found in the car was the man’s dog.
“We do not believe it is G20-related,” G8/G20 spokeswoman Catherine Martin said on Thursday night.
Toronto Police Constable Hugh Smith told local television the suspect had “no reasonable explanation for the weapons that we observed that were in physical plain view.”
It was the third security-related arrest in recent days before the G20 and G8 summits. Canada is spending C$1 billion on security, deploying thousands of police from across the country to protect two summit sites surrounded by 10-foot-high (3-meter) steel fences set in concrete.
Earlier this week, police arrested a man and his wife in an upscale neighborhood in north Toronto on explosive and firearms charges.
The Integrated Security Unit, which is overseeing security for the summits, did not say what, if any, direct threat the two may have posed, but said there was “no risk to public safety at this time.”
On Friday and Saturday, leaders from the Group of Eight industrialized nations will meet in Huntsville, Ontario, about two hours’ drive north of Toronto. The G20 will then gather in Toronto on Saturday and Sunday.
The summits will focus on the global economic crisis and are expected to attract thousands of protesters who plan to press anti-poverty and pro-environment agendas.
Police hope to avoid clashes like the 1999 “Battle of Seattle” that disrupted trade talks in that city, and protests during the Summit of the Americas in Canada in 2001 that police used tear gas to disperse.
Police have already arrested a number of protesters this week in Toronto, although marches have generally been peaceful.
Thousands of protesters demonstrating for aboriginal rights marched through the heart of downtown Toronto on Thursday, flanked by police on bikes and followed by others on horseback.
“No tar sands on sovereign Native land,” the group chanted in reference to the oil sands projects in the western Canadian province of Alberta.
Additional reporting by Allan Dowd and David Ljunggren; Editing by Peter Cooney