Saturday, June 9, 2012

Gated Democracy? - Protesting The Harper Omnibus Budget Bill - Part 2

Yesterday I got a glimpse of the kind of democratic expression that is considered acceptable under the Harper regime. It is one that I found profoundly disturbing.

Almost a week ago I wrote a post describing a march organized by to the constituency office of my Conservative M.P., David Sweet. Yesterday, another demonstration to protest Bill C-38, the Harper budget omnibus bill, took place, this one organized by the local chapter of the Council of Canadians and joined by a variety of groups and individuals.

Despite the short notice, this march from downtown Dundas up to Mr. Sweet's office in Greensville was well-attended, and I was very pleased by the healthy presence of young Canadians, each participant bound by a deep concern for the dark road Stephen Harper and his acolytes are leading us down.

However, young and old alike were in for an unpleasant surprise upon arrival at our destination. We were met with a No Trespassing sign at the entrance to the strip mall housing Sweet's constituency office, an interdiction authorized by the property owner, IPC Investments, we were told.

Not one to be satisfied with such an expedient and un-Canadian dismissal of democracy, I ventured onto the property to ask for the owner. Flanked by four Hamilton police officers (all of whom, I must say, discharged their perceived duties in a very professional and non-confrontational manner), I spoke to the owner, who refused to give his name. (I later learned his identity, but it seems pointless to give it here, as I suspect his is an attitude endemic in Harperland.)

I asked him why we were being denied access to the office of our M.P., and he told me it was private property. When I persisted in my questions, he said there had been an incident of property destruction a couple of months ago, at which point the officer told him he didn't have to answer my questions. Interestingly, a lawyer who was in attendance later contacted the property owner who "alleged that people in the past had caused damage by breaking foliage and walking on plants," none of which was in evidence in this concreted and rather sterile-looking strip mall.

Thus literally relegated to the street (also an apt metaphor for where this battle must be fought), many of the attendees spoke eloquently about their concerns over the omnibus bill. Representatives from labour, the environment, poverty and political action groups, as well as former politicians and individuals, all united by their love of this country and their compassion for its members, offered moving perspectives on the dangers inherent in the Harper push to fundamentally alter the values and traditions that I would like to think the majority of Canadians hold dear.

Many of yesterday's attendees were veterans of the battles to safeguard those values, maintain our democratic rights, and hold our politicians accountable to those they were elected to represent and serve. Many others were young and just beginning to take up those battles, but all were united in their passion and their determination to fight for the things truly worth fighting for in this life.

It is this spirit that the Harper regime can never really understand. It is this spirit that Harper and his followers would love to crush. But it is also this spirit that, as both history and contemporary world events amply demonstrate, is the one aspect of humanity that is truly invincible, and will never die.


  1. The sign encapsulates the Harper government perfectly, Lorne. It is an insult. But it also demonstrates the fact that these people genuinely don't get it.

    When the end comes, they really won't understand what went wrong.

  2. I suspect a more likely reason for the no trespassing edict would be a complaint from a certain tenant who belongs to an organisation that holds democracy in contempt.