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December 7, 2009

Canadian Political System and Protesters


The Canadian political system allows its citizens the freedom to protest peacefully. People across the political spectrum in Canada have differing views on protesting and the methods employed in making a political statement.

Even if you disagree with the political opinions of an individual or group protesting one issue or another, you should be able in principle to agree that they have the right to state those opinions.

What you don't have to agree with is the methods.

Whenever I see videos of PETA people throwing red paint on innocent people my blood boils. When I see groups like the Anti-Poverty Committee in Vancouver crashing city budget meetings and throwing chairs and overturning tables I get a little peeved. These actions are self-defeating and have the opposite effect on what they are trying to achieve.

If anything, these protesting methods only act to galvanize and aggregate support around the issues the protesters are protesting. Canadians engaging in childish behaviour...

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

The Tamil protests that went on a few months ago showed that Canadian politicians don't care about peaceful protesters. Who in their right mind would want to stand around parliament getting ignored or accused of being a terrorist for a few weeks when they can just block a highway for a few hours and get a meeting with the leader of the opposition?

I can't disagree with these disruptive methods. They're the only way to get any kind of attention in Canada and I can't blame protesters for doing the only thing they can do to bring attention to their causes. I do blame politicians for showing nothing but disdain for the Canadian people.

kirbycairo said...

I think in most cases you are demonstrably wrong. There are indeed cases in which certain kinds of protests are self-defeating but in most cases they raise the profile of an issue and force debate in an atmosphere in which many people (particularly those who wield power) are trying to keep debate at a minimum and certainly out of the public spotlight. This is particularly true within the media system of ten second sound-bites. Such protests may offend your sensibilities but they play a vital role in a system which, though theoretically democratic, has a very narrow scope of debate in large part because those who control the money control the debate. The so-called 'free-market' of ideas is pure myth in a context in which a handful of large corporations own almost every single media outlet. In this context it is simply a fact that sometimes the only way to obtain a meaningful expansion of debate are radical (sometimes illegal) acts. And from the peasant revolt of 1381 to the storming of the Bastille to the various acts of Greenpeace in our own time, such protests are part of a proud and important tradition that in so many cases have been vindicated by history.

Anonymous said...

Right On KirbyCairo!
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-=Moderate Union=- said...

kirby...condoning violence is irresponsible. Condoning illegal acts given our current liberal legal system is an abhorrent suggestion. If you can't get your point across without acting like a tantruming, breakaway anarchist you might want to rethink your strategy and look to history i.e. Ghandi, MLK, etc.

Anonymous said...

We have a democracy. You seem to be from the bunch who think the majority rule is what its about. Whatever the majority gets the rest have to deal with We don't. Democracy is about voicing dissent without repercussions. No one was harmed in this protest so ... I guess you don't like having Iggy up on the the banner in liberal red. He is an oil sands supporter and as such he IS talking out both sides of his mouth on this issue.

-=Moderate Union=- said...

Embrace reality Anonymous...not everyone is opposed to the oil sands at face value. Not everyone shares your esoteric views on the environment. If the oil sands were halted would you then complain about low industrial tax revenue?

kirbycairo said...

Dear Moderate Union - Knowing about Gandhi simply doesn't address the argument I put forward which is clear and has a convincing history. (And by the way I was not condoning violence but I was talking about the need for some to break the law for certain causes, meanwhile your original argument was based on your claim to 'counter-productive behavior and not on the moral issues of law breaking)Your platitudes about the rule of law are as hollow as the platitudes Louis XVI leveled against those who stormed the Bastille or those who defended slavery against abolitionists. Being on the right side of the law simply doesn't mean that you are on the right side of morality. Martin Luther King broke the law plenty of times and spent much time in jail, as did Nelson Mandela. Democracy or no, anyone who is a careful reader of history surely can't believe that the State is always right nor that those who actively protect the environment or animal rights or even just those with no voice in our society are always wrong. In this case the actions of Greenpeace were at stake and Greenpeace has a long and honorable history of non-violent action that in many cases violates the laws of the particular country in which they are acting. And when we abandon such acts based upon some abstract commitment to law is pure foolishness and leads to nothing but tyranny.

-=Moderate Union=- said...

Do you feel like you're living in tyranny Kirby? Is that how you feel? You and I must be living in completely different worlds. If you took the time to read my post instead of just cherry-picking sentences and applying them to a history book about the Bastille you must have just read, you would understand that I don't agree with certain protesting METHODS. I fully understand and appreciate the progressive role protesting has played in history (fyi I took part in the Vancouver anti-Iraq invasion protest). So please don't think of me and others as caricatures of justice-seekers versus freedom-lovers. BTW not everyone is a fan of Greenpeace -we are not obligated to appreciate them.

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