Hundreds of peaceful protesters have been arrested, assaulted and dehumanized. People, horses and journalists are being shot by rubber bullets and attacked by private security dogs for being completely peaceful. Protesters are reporting being arrested and held in dog cages and disturbingly, the police have not denied this.
Over the last few years there has been a steady stream of disturbing videos showing minorities being gunned down by the people meant to protect them, most without any sort of criminal consequences for the shooter. Add all this to the horrible history of racism in America and it's no wonder that someone from that community would want to take a stand. Yet it happens so rarely.
As it happens, inconveniencing people, being rude, screaming in their faces and generally pissing them off is not very successful in rallying them to your side. Funny how that works. Yet, in Ontario, three very passionate groups have used these tried-and-failed techniques in an attempt to force public opinion.
Critics of the international movement have called it discriminatory and racist, citing it as an attempt to prioritize black lives over all others ("It's not just black lives -- all lives matter!"). And perhaps most significantly, many have accused the organization of inciting hatred and violence against police. Though these assumptions are completely false, the discovery of a co-founder's tweet talking about killing white people does nothing to quell these criticisms. Rather, it simply adds fuel to an already raging fire.
Both Trudeau and his new ministers have their work cut out from them when it comes to really getting Canada back on course on climate. That's why today, I'm outside of Trudeau's home with dozens of other people kicking off what could be largest act of civil disobedience on climate change in Canada's history.
The rushed passage of Bill C-51 through Parliament, the furthest-reaching national security reforms in Canada since 2001, continues. It is soon to be passed by the House of Commons and then head off to the Senate. And all signs are that the government intends to push it through the Senate as quickly as possible, with an eye to the Bill becoming law before the summer Parliamentary break. At its heart Bill C-51 grounds itself in the flawed notion that human rights have to give way when national security is on the line.
Opinions run hot around pipeline conflicts, and more is ahead of us. There are many arguments for and against civil protest, but one of the most persistent is that these people are hypocrites. That if you drive a car, take a plane, use hairspray, or otherwise consume fossil fuels in any way, you have no right to stand up. This comparison is troubling for a number of reasons.
I won't go into the details of black groups being marginalized at the hands of white people who dominate the "center," because if you're smart enough to think that you fooled us into feeling remorse for "leaving you out" during the protest in Toronto, then you're smart enough to do a Google search to figure out historical black oppression and its endless contemporary reproductions.
I want us all to shut up until we are ready to stop being hypocrites. I ask that we stop justifying pain that in our own lives would be unjustifiable, unliveable, unkind. I am so ashamed of my people -- all of you whom I intersect with on social media, and even myself -- I barely hear anyone with the guts not to answer back, not to justify "their" point of view.
You're a prisoner in your own home. Not able to fall asleep from the gunfire down the street, you fear that your house is next. You protested a new law that gave even more power to a despotic government. One of your friends was murdered, another was raped. This is a fear that has not played out in the western world. We have security, peace, and far more freedom than others.
Has your child ever seen a picket line? If you plan to shop at a Walmart in the U.S. you and your child may well see one this weekend. If your children ask what is happening, how will you explain it? The Canadian Civil Liberties Education Trust and TVO Parents can help you make the most of that "teachable moment" with a discussion about rights and freedoms.
There are moments in history when it becomes clear that our leaders are failing us. They are the moments when people from all walks of life need to dust off those placards, stand up and speak out. This is one of those moments. Canada is failing as a country to curb climate pollution. Under the Harper Conservatives, our country's climate performance has become the worst in the Western world. We cannot sit by and let them put our coast and our country at risk. On November 16, communities from across Canada will stand up to remind our elected officials that they work for us and not just the oil patch.
The most revealing moment of Russell Brand's Newsnight interview is when Paxman asks what his revolution will be like. Brand begins his response: "Well I'll tell you what it won't be like." This response, which knows not what it wants and only what it doesn't want, is indicative of what I've come to think of as Che Activism.
In recent memory, I can think of only three serious, rock-'em-sock-'em demonstrations in Canada. It's not as though Canadians are lacking for things to protest about. It's just that our national preference (outside Quebec, at least) is to avoid conflict whenever possible. And, I suppose, we've probably become too comfortable, perhaps even lazy, about tackling issues that don't have direct or immediate implications for us.
When B.C. filmmaker Velcrow Ripper started making Occupy Love in 2009, some of his activist friends weren't sure what to make of his questions. How can the crises we're facing socially, economically and environmentally become - of all things - a love story? But as he continued to film social movements from the Arab Spring to the European Summer, Occupy Wall Street and environmental movements, he started seeing a shift, with more and more people responding: "Of course it's a love story."