23 July 2010

The Lady Protests Too Much.

I read Margaret Atwood’s article of 6 July (A Second Chance Or A Boot In The Face) in The Globe and Mail with fascination. The views of a leading Canadian author deserve to be read and considered. Atwood’s comparison between protests - one peaceful, one definitely not - was intriguing. Atwood’s speculations regarding government conspiracy to turn Canada into “Tinpot Dictatorship North” were alarming. Given her propensity for writing dystopian fiction, one can perhaps forgive Atwood for being incendiary.

What really bothered me was that this great thinker overlooked a fundamental point. She, like so many others, has drawn a line between government and protesters, as if the two are alien races. This pervasive Us-Versus-Them attitude is feeding the conspiracy minded and encouraging paranoia. Atwood’s unsubtle suggestions paint the government and police as dark forces aligned against society. Read too much of this sort of thing, and you may start seeing conspiracy everywhere. However, the only plotters that I saw were the black bloc.

The reality is that we are all one society: protesters, police, government officials, and the public. We live together, work together, and share the same values. As Canadians, we have built a county together and we run that country together. We all agree on certain things. We have delegated the operation of the country to government: people we select to represent us and do the grunt work. As voters, we control the government: we watch what they do, we evaluate their work, and we determine if they keep their jobs or not. There is no conspiracy. There cannot be because, unlike other so-called democratic countries, we the citizens pay very close attention to what our government does. Any attempt to seize total power in Canada would be met with immediate and determined response from us citizens in the form of elections, protests, or, in the extreme, revolt and assassination. Unlike dystopian models, we would have other vital citizens alongside us: the military and the police.

Speaking of which, these feebleminded denizens like to paint anyone in a uniform as agents of power, as automatons who exist only to do the bidding of the dictatorial government. That’s a good tool for fiction, but we must remember that underneath those uniforms are Canadians. People who live like us, who work like us, and who, like us, are opposed to the idea of government domination. Can you really believe that veterans from Afghanistan would blindly march into cities and open fire on the populace? More likely they would turn their guns on those who gave such orders. The police are even closer to us. They live with the rest of us, empowered by us to keep order and to protect us. Will they arrest criminals? Absolutely, that is their job. Will they quell riots? Of course, that’s what we want them to do. Not to mention that the police are protecting their own homes as well as ours. The police would not live in a dictatorship anymore than we would.

The idea of anyone trying to seize total control of Canada is laughable. How could that possibly work? We spend much of our time arguing now! Someone could declare themself king and overlord, and we’d likely all laugh at the lunatic and go on with our lives as normal. Canada is a country of consensus, a nation of discussion, and a society based on agreement. We work together to solve problems equitably and, above all, we are most concerned with our survival. Think of any major disaster in Canada: floods, ice-storms, hurricanes, forest-fires. What do we do? Everyone turns out to help. Along with the expected civil and military groups, individual citizens arrive from across the country to lend a hand. We all send donations. We make sure needs are met, people are helped. There is no sense of ‘someone else’s problem’. How could anyone achieve domination of a people that dedicated to each other?

We even back protests. Strikes, public information campaigns, marches, blockades... we may disagree on the issues, but we all agree that people have a right to be heard. The police presence at the G20 was not sinister, it was standard. We see it every time any large group of people hold a protest. We also see it during parades and celebrations and during the Stanley Cup. The police arrive to ensure order, prevent criminal activity, and provide assistance to everyone. From lost kids to drunken brawls to people who are just looking to cross the street, the police help. They even help protests by closing off the march routes so cars don’t run anyone over. When did these become acts of domination?

Look at the black bloc footage again. What do you see? Masked criminals trashing buildings and torching cars. If that had been a Grey Cup celebration, we wouldn’t still be talking about it. The offenders would be awaiting trials and life would be back to normal. But because the black bloc used the guise of protesting, some people feel the need to defend them and blame the government.

Watch the videos again and you will see something which should send chills through you. Don’t look at the people in black. Look at the people around them. Do you see crowds of ‘peaceful’ protestors watching the action? These bystanders claim innocence because they didn’t toss a brick. I say: you were there and that makes you a contributor. Did you try to stop the destruction? So you are peaceful protesters: why didn’t you surround the black bloc to prevent their actions? Did you shout at the criminals to stop? Did you call the police and tell them what was happening? Did you get out of the way, so security could do their job? If not, then you endorsed that violence and participated just as surely as if you smashed a CBC truck. You cannot be that close to the action and claim you were not involved.

If you witness criminal acts, then you have a responsibility to society. As a member of a community which protects rights, you have an obligation to intervene when those rights are violated. You are quite vocal about police excesses; what about the acts of protesters? Who is fixing windows, collecting money to pay for damages and unemployed staff, scrubbing off graffiti and soot?

If your response to those accusations is ‘That’s not my job!’ then you are declaring that you are not part of our community, not a member of our society, not a Canadian as we see ourselves. In which case, why should the rest of us be concerned about your rights? You obviously are not worried about ours.

We had an opportunity at this summit. We had a chance to show ourselves and the world that Canada is a country of peace, a place where protests can be held without violence. We blew it. Protesters themselves could have quashed the black bloc and didn’t. Instead, they endorsed the action and, by their mere presence on the streets, ensured the police would be overstretched. Protesters even permitted the criminals to mingle and avoid arrest. Yes, there will be investigations into police misconduct, and I’m sure the protesters will be only too willing to help nail a pig. How many will help turn in the black bloc?

Where’s the conspiracy now?


  1. You saw no plotters? Only the Black? May I be so bold as to suggest you are not looking hard enough. You think that secret legislation that gives police extraordinary powers to arrest and hold people with out probable cause is working in concert, in check by the people?

    I tend not think of it this way.

    If you can have your rights wiped away in secret by the stroke of a pen you don't have rights you have scraps thrown at the sufferance of your masters.

    Dalton did it and the police acted on it. The sheep cheered on for "safety and security" sake. It was a test of the system and mostly they were cheered on. This is not the first time we have been shown that the police are nothing but the arm of the politicos. Police forces are not arms length in this country, certain groups are persecuted at the full force of the law while others are left to their own devices to break, flaunt laws at their will. There is no RULE OF LAW in this country. NO equal wielding, laying of the law.

    What do you call police who march to the orders, whims of the politicos? I call then jackboots in the making. The line keeps moving forward to wards this and nary a peep from most of the sheep.

    How sad for this country that almost everyone takes this as part of living in Canada.

  2. Where is your proof of secret orders? Of this conspiracy? Of persecution? I hear your words and feel your emotion, but I see you offering nothing but slogans.

    You seem to believe that Canada is structured thus: Ruling Politicians (with secret agendas), Police (controlled by Politicians), The Public (Sheep), and Your Group (The Enlightened, All Seeing, Protesters). This is a handy structure to feed paranoia and conspiracy, but has no basis in fact. Also, I automatically distrust any philosophy based on 'if you're not with us, then you are a(n) enemy, fool, delusional, etc'.

    The fact is, we are a community. All of us. Do we all know how everyone else is doing their job? No. Public servants we trust to do their jobs properly. As citizens, we monitor their performance and alter their duties as necessary, terminating when required. One need not look any further than your local former MP to see a lack of conspiracy: once out of office, they go back to normal affairs, lawyer or logger. No black helicopters, no secret meetings at Madge's.

    Should we trust our government? Yes, but only as you would trust an employee (for that is what they are). The government does not rule us. The government serves us. The police serve us. It is our job to pay attention, to watch, to assess, and to provide feedback. Peaceful protesting is part of that process as are the media, public investigations and crown commissions. If you disagree with the action government is taking, you have methods of expressing that which do not infringe upon your fellow citizens. If your cause is right, you should be able to convince others. Violence and destruction destroys any chance of that.

    If you want to see the true sadness, it is this: had these same events occurred as the result of a Stanley Cup win, absolutely no one would be disputing the actions taken, and you would not be claiming conspiracy.

  3. The act stipulates that anyone entering a public work is obliged to give police their name and state the purpose of their visit on request. Anyone who fails to identify themself or explain their presence can be arrested and fined up to $500 or sentenced to jail, and anyone in an area designated as a public work can be searched.

    McGuinty's cabinet passed the regulation quietly on June 2 with no debate in the legislature.

    McGuinty's office said the premier will not be available to respond to questions about the need to pass a law that critics say suspended civil liberties in downtown Toronto without telling anyone.

    Read more: http://www.cbc.ca/politics/story/2010/06/28/g20-mcguinty-law644.html#ixzz0ucYEjRs7

    Secret legislation that was not debated by the opposition, giving powers to search and keep people without probable cause, with out access to a lawyer, just because they were in a certain area, in one of the largest cities in our country. Research is as easy as goggle my friend.

    I don't have a group, I am free sovereign individual human being. A libertarian. I am not in community with the rioters in any way shape or form. I reject your collectivist clap trap, the mighty in numbers makes it right to impose it's will upon the unwilling at the barrel of a government sanctioned implied gun nonsense.

    Do I believe that most Canadians are blind sheep? You bet your sweet bippy. Sheep or prostitutes that trade their freedoms and offer up mine for a false sense of security against imaginary terrors.

    We do not have a rule of law in this country and even the most blind can not honesty deny that.

    Caledonia mean anything at all to you? The Native blockade of the boarder at Cornwall ring a bell for you?

    If it is illegal for one and not the other due to political interference, because it is a sensitive thing for a politico to have the laws of this land apply to others that makes makes the Police arbitrary jackboots that take their orders from POLITICIANS based on whim or political expedience not law enforcement officers.

  4. A common law standard in every democracy is that, in times of civil unrest, citizens must permit susepnsion of certain rights in order to maintain their society. What is the problem with identifying yourself or saying why you are somewhere? What is it that you are hiding? If you are protesting, then stand up and state your case, be proud of your position and own up to it. If you are passing through, you have nothing to hide.

    As for not being part of a society, I am sorry to have to break this to you. You are. Look in your wallet, see all the ID stamped Canada and Alberta. Look at your tax forms, your refund cheque, your health card. Hell, look at your mail and see where you live. That makes you a part of a community. That community grants you those rights you boasting about. Protesting is part of those rights but so is maintaining order.

    Arrests were made in Caledonia, Oka, and thousands of other places where protesters went beyond spreading their message or demonstrating into trampling others' rights. Many more protests went forward orderly and achieved results without disorder or arrests. Even those wrongfully detained during the FLQ crisis will admit that such measures were necessary to preserve our feedom from tyranny.

    If you really think that your rights trump the rights of those around you, then you'd best find a nice quiet island away from everyone. Because in that sort of world, sooner or later, someone will come who is bigger and believes THEIR freedom is more important than yours and you will find yourself captured or destroyed. That is what happens when there is no society.

  5. Even those wrongfully detained during the FLQ crisis will admit that such measures were necessary to preserve our freedom from tyranny.

    What are you on?

    Tyranny must be encouraged and endured to be safe from tyranny?

    Did you live in Quebec during the FLQ crises? Did you have to walk past soldiers with their machine guns at the ready to get to the tank sitting in your Kindergarten play yard?

    A common law standard in every democracy is that, in times of civil unrest, citizens must permit susepnsion of certain rights in order to maintain their society.

    WHAT? One must allow the government to enact secret legislation that suspends everyone's/MILLIONS of Canadian Citizen's rights because a few left tards want to make a BBQ out of police cars? Which the Police allowed them to do. Not like they even tried to stop them, but what a good excuse to parlay that into a rational to use extraordinary "secret" powers.

    It is obvious that you and I will disagree on the amount of our souls or the amount of other's we are willing to sell up the river in order to feel safe in our "community".

    You talk about keeping the government and the police in check, yet you have comfort in their enacting secret legislation, with out benefit of the official opposition input, with out informing the people of the contents of the legislation. Pish posh they needed to do that because if you have nothing to hide what is the biggy deal right? The thing is I see rights as very serious matter, If I have done nothing wrong I should be free of the interference of the police from going about my day. Canadians have a right to go about their day with out the police stopping them and demanding Id and accountability with out just probable cause. Canadians should NOT have to prove innocence in order to go about their legal business, even if it is due to super duper secret legislation.

    Still you do not recognise that if rights can be taken away, in secret, with the stroke of a pen, then you have no real rights.

    I will let you get back to your sleep now.....