Wednesday, December 01, 2004


Today, for the first time in my life, I was involved in a public protest. It was a wonderful thing to experience, and I recommend it to everyone.

We (my roommate Mike and I) began making some signs last night, which took a bit longer than I anticipated. We choose to go for the missile defence issue and some other more comical ones. Yesterday, I was looking forward to the event, with mostly excitement, but a tinge of nervousness. I realize that I’ve been conditioned to obey/defer to authority and usually feel badly if I violate social conventions or laws. My nervousness did not exist today, and it shouldn’t have. We all have the right to protest as well as free assembly; this is was far too important an event to be unnecessarily concerned. The protest was ideal from my vantage point(s). Mike and went to Grand Parade a bit before 10 and as we approached the group in the centre, a police officer handed us a pamphlet outlining our rights and the laws that could be violated. It was so amusingly Canadian. All about peaceful protest, eh.
There were people, music, chanting, and some speeches. I liked being surrounded by my fellow protestors. There were a lot of interesting signs, one that I really liked was “War is costly, Peace is Priceless.” It was nice to feel so connected. The thing about George W. Bush is that he can bring together many people of similar ideologies; on both sides. So if you’re for women’s rights, against homophobia, abhor torture, oppose unilateralism, or just support peace, he’s your one stop protest shop.

The crowd’s attention was turned to greet a youth protest group that was magnificently invigorating. We welcomed them into the fold with cheers. Mike and walked around and sat a bit. Some people would read our signs and smile, which in turn made us smile. After a decent speech, which importantly stressed the non-violence of the protest and respect for others and the city, the march proceeded along Barrington. Then to South and then past the Sherrington to Pier 21. The entire perambulation took about an hour. About 15 minutes into the walk I saw protestors ‘as far as the eye could see’ both in front of me and behind me. That was Great!

During the march it was nice to see spectators from windows in the buildings, some workers and some kids, of just people on the sidewalk watching it go by. Here’s how nice people were: no one really marched on the sidewalk because it might have blocked people just trying to walk in the city. That’s how it should be.
As we rounded the corner on the way to Pier 21 I started to get pumped. The main reason for this was some percussionists near-by. Two people had ‘real drums’ and this older woman had a bucket upside down with two tin cans, it rocked! Then the protest stopped near Pier 21 and the energy in the crowd was building. We were chanting “Hey Hey, Ho Ho, George Bush has got to go!” and things keep building. The drums were pounding harder and faster and the crowd eventually erupted in its jubiliant discontent.

We hung around a bit, then started going back from where we came and then assembled in the park while others kept marching through the city. It is possible that some of us left before Bush actually arrived at Pier 21, but so it goes in these kinds of things. I was tired, so I sat on a bench and took in some speeches about US foreign policy. As Mike and I left we gave out two cents to someone from the CBC Newsworld. I felt I didn’t express myself that well, but had a second chance and got in a decent soundbite. “Bush is ostensibly here to thank Halifax, but it is a little late. Three years? What, he couldn’t get a flight?” Home to rest and watch CBC’s news covering Bush’s visit to Halifax. I also watched a bit of the PM’s subsequent press conference. I was happy to hear “We will not participate in any weaponization of space” – Paul Martin.

Additionally, I was quite amused by the wholly superfluous narrative Peter Mansbridge provided while Bush was leaving Halifax at the airport. At one point he actually said, “…If you’re a plane afficianado you’ll notice that the nose is a slightly different shape…” and then went on to discuss parts of the plane. Peter Mansbridge: bringing you the issues that matter most.

All in all, it was a fantastic experience. Just generally being there to see it was one thing, to be a part of it was even better. To be a part of "Outside the museum, about 3,000 demonstrators waved anti-war placards aimed at Bush, mirroring protests in many Canadian communities over the past two days." As well, I was grateful that “Unlike protests in Ottawa on Tuesday afternoon and early Wednesday morning, however, the Halifax protest remained peaceful. “

Through all of this, I have felt increasingly proud to be Canadian. I usually say I’m not a fan of nationalism, even under the guise of patriotism. I still think this is valid, but I should give more credit to my country. Thanks, eh.


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