It really has been a while since I've gone to one of these things. I turned up about half an hour early, and there were already tables for the Communist Party, the Marxist-Leninists, CUPE, the Steelworker's Union, the Committee to Free someone whose name I've forgotten (sorry), supporters of U.S. war resistors, and a couple of guys with signs saying "9/11 Was an Inside Job". It was oddly comforting when the Raging Grannies turned up and started singing.
I was a little concerned that I couldn't find the Council of Canadians right away (they turned up later), but I was even more concerned at the number of disparate groups who seemed at least as concerned with pushing their own, often conflicting agendas as they were with fighting the SPP.
I guess this is how it's done now. Maybe it always has and I've just forgotten.
Once the speeches started, I stopped worrying quite as much. The speakers from these various groups all did a marvelous job of explaining exactly how the SPP, the anti-war movement, the anti-poverty movement, workers rights, etc. all tie in. Still, I can help but wonder if all this is getting lost on the media types who seemed to be gravitating towards those whose cause could be more easily summarized in a five second sound bite.
That's the trouble with the SPP and why opposition to it is going to continue to be a tough sell to the general public. It's a complex issue, and one that cannot be summarized in ten words or less. I've had a number of people ask me exactly what I was protesting this weekend, and I can see their eyes starting to glaze over halfway through the preamble. And I'm supposed to be pretty good with words (ok, not so much when I talk).
Focus on water and people say, "But we have lots of water - what's the problem?". Say "SPP = NAFTA + Guns" and you have to explain to the kiddies what NAFTA is and why it's bad. Talk about wage equity and workers' rights and you get dismissed as a socialist. Talk about common currency and continental integration and you are dismissed as an alarmist.
See? It's tough.
I would have really liked to hear what the various speakers had to say on this subject at tonight's forum, but sadly by the time I finally tracked my son down after the march and we figured out how to get back across the Canal, the thing had already started and we were both too dog tired to try to find the hall.
Scary Moment of the Day: As the march was wrapping up, a largish group has stopped by the fence, so I went to see what was up. All I could see was a cordon of police officers surrounding someone who was apparently being detained or searched. I spotted the top of the person's head and for about ten seconds I thought it was my son.
It turned out to be a different teenaged boy. The story floating around the crowd, for what it's worth, was that he was arrested for having a can of spray paint in his possession, which he had apparently been using earlier to paint stenciled picket signs. I have no idea if this was true or not, but they put the kid into the back of a police car and took him away with no violence and hardly any shouting.
I can't help but wonder if the dozens and dozens of cops who were dragged out to police this thing felt that they needed to justify their presence at what was, without exception, an extremely peaceful and orderly demonstration.
Right now I am tired, sunburned, footsore, and being anti-social as I borrow the use of my hosts' computer. So for tonight, dear friends, adieu.