Quebec City, or: Canadians Duke It Out

I am randomly inserting myself into the discussion that started as a hijack of Upham’s Fuck You, Jean thread.

As the discussion between matt_mcl and zoony raged on, it got too interesting to discontinue. Plus I wanted to get my say in there, too.

Speaking as someone who had friends at the protest, friends who got tear-gassed, beaten and arrested, and as someone who WOULD have been there had my parents not been so upset at the idea, I want to say that protesting is a VERY valid way of showing your views on an issue.

Of course, throwing Molotov coctails is not one. Which is why no one I’ve spoken to, protesters or bystanders, supported the people that did that crap.

And zoony… I’ll wait 'till you snark at me, cause even though I desperately want to tear up your posts, I’m sure Upham and matt can handle it just fine.


I want you to go read my witness account of events in my MPSIMS thread and then tell me so. We are talking rivers of tear gas flooding down the streets; journalists shot with rubber bullets; medical centres raided at gunpoint and tear gassed; peaceful meetings violently dispersed; medics attacked by the police while tending to the injured; tear gas shot blindly from the top of the mountain into quiet café districts empty of any protesters. And all this brought to bear on peaceful groups, purportedly to control a violent element therein smaller than the riots that happen every year at St-Jean-Baptiste. How is this in any way justifiable?

Explosives? You mean the teddy bears?

As for gas masks and vinegar-soaked bandannas, considering that we knew in advance that the police could be using tear gas, it would have been insane of us not to protect ourselves at least partially from such chemical weapons. Even if the police had restricted their tear gas use to that necessary to control the violent element, it still would have drifted and affected the rest of us peaceful protesters.

It is indeed possible peacefully to protest whilst wearing a gas mask. I, as well as the other 5,000 people I saw wearing gas masks while peacefully protesting, seem to have so demonstrated.

Two more things I want to add:

The treatment of the arrested people was atrocious. Food and water weren’t adequately supplied, my friend left the prison having no voice because of her dehydration. Also, from what I’ve heard, some of the little food supplied was meat, about which the vegetarians were told they’d just have to suck it up. So they did. Then threw it back up, many of them. Women weren’t even given tampons, for fuck’s sake.

Secondly, a minor rant about the Newsweek article on the issue. My favorite quote:

“It seems pointless to rebut, one more time, the arguments made by the protesters in Quebec City, to note their misunderstanding of basic economics, to show that their slogans are confused and contradictory. By taunting the police, beating drums and throwing rocks, the rioters make it pretty clear that they want not a rational debate but the world’s attention—and they have succeeded once again”

It’s obvious he never even talked to anyone who was there. Misunderstanding of basic economics, my ass!

Yeah, lovely eye-witness accounts, matt, you’ll pardon me if I don’t care so much.

I’m sure that the riot police in the future will ask the violent protesters to kindly raise their hands to identify themselves, to ensure that the rest of the peaceful protesters don’t get injured.

And this obviously translates into the complete lack of justification for tear-gassing. Oh, hold up fellas, matt wasn’t informed on the wind shifts, we’d better wait 'til he’s better prepared. Maybe we can email him…

Who’re these folks, matt, Oliver Stone? Or just some other randomly polled ‘peaceful’ protesters?

Again, this, as a source, is about as credible as me saying the protest was nothing more than a Whitsun-morris dance. Oh, but it was written in chalk on the sidewalk, it must be valid.

I absolutely agree that the vast majority of protesters present were of the peaceful, legitimately-concerned variety. What I’m also well aware of - and which you may too young to remember, matt - is that non-violent protesters with violent protesters in their midst have an unfortunate tendency to become violent, where such violent acts go uncontested. A major objective of riot forces is to deal with riots underway, but the best way to do this is stop 'em before they start.

Once again, problematic logic. Given the evidence of prior clashes in Seattle, the police are fully justified in recruiting anti-riot techniques, chemical or otherwise. Jesus, you don’t see that kind of shit when the farmers march on Ottawa, and with a far more valid grievance, I might add.

Obviously, what is so clearly needed is for the police to hire an intrepid observer, such as yourself, matt, to help them single out exactly who is violent and who is not. That way, when the ‘violent’ melt into or seek refuge within the ranks of the ‘non-violent’, they may still be identified, and be given a stern lecture as to the undesirable effects of such ill-behaved shenanigans.

What kind of an honest expectation can you legitimately foster that by wilfully associating with a known violent element you will remain reasonably free of the effects of the justified use of force to counter such activities?

and to think I missed almost the whole 3rd period for this…

Mmm-hmm. Not because of shouting protest slogans.

Hey, it’s detention, not Air Canada. There ain’t a request form for the vegetarian meal or aisle seats.

Apparently, you weren’t there either, sparky; neither was I. Don’t mean our opinions aren’t valid.

Um, no, 'cause she was let out on Wednesday, after the legal limit of 4 days before a bail hearing. If she was shouting so loud that after 4 days her voice was still gone, I would have heard her over here.

And if it were just about finicky eaters, I’d agree with you. But in case you couldn’t tell, people who don’t eat meat quickly become less able to digest it. Many vegetarians who tried to eat the sandwiches threw up.

What’s that supposed to mean? (I’m not saying that defensively or maliciously, just confusedly)

It’s a matter of proportion and aim, Zoony. If you have five people hucking rocks at you, what reason do you have to fire tear gas, not at them, but rather directly into the large crowd (which, by the way, it says on the canisters you are NOT supposed to do) that is not hucking rocks at you?

The only way the tear gas could have been as dense as it was at that place was for a canister to have landed within some ten metres of there. That’s not a wind shift.

Any person except yourself who is capable of using the English language above a grade-six level would be perfectly capable of seeing that the slogan I quoted was a metaphoric expression, the meaning of which metaphor (“the police are using force out of all proportion to the situation”) I then go on to claim was borne out by my observations. Really now.

Exactly what basis do you have for making this claim? With no exceptions, every time I witnessed a violent act on the part of a protester in Quebec City, the rest of the crowd was yelling at them to stop.

You know, here in Canada people are supposed to be convicted before being punished, and they’re supposed to be tried before being convicted, and they’re supposed to be arrested before being tried, and they’re supposed to commit a crime before being arrested and convicted. In effect, you suggest cutting out the annoying steps of committing a crime, being arrested, being tried, and being convicted, between having the opportunity to commit a crime and being punished. Justice and ethics are so inconvenient, aren’t they?

For some reason, however, you do see it when homeless people stage a quiet sit-in on Parliament Hill. And when students peacefully protest funding cuts in front of Concordia University. And when young people peacefully protest police brutality outside a community policing conference. I can continue if desired.

Silly me. I thought the purpose of the police was to arrest those who are committing or have committed crimes, as opposed to assaulting those who have not.

That’s like saying that if three people at a hockey game start throwing beer bottles at the umpire, the entire spectatorship should be gassed. How can you possibly claim that ten thousand people are associating themselves in any meaningful fashion with fewer than one hundred, simply because they are in the same area code because of the same event?

Excuse me - at the referee. I’m so embarrassed.

Alright Mr. Bunker, lets get on with this thing.

Lets establish a few things here first. 1) Have you ever read anything not handed to in a pamphlet from the Alliance Party? 2) Have you ever, indeed, read anything at all? 3) Have you left your parents basement lately? 4) Is thewre any chance you will ever open you mind up to the possibility of considering other ways of dealing with thigs?

I mean, honestly man, it’s like i’m talking to Old Jack Parker who lives down the road from me. He sits (no joke) with his shot gun on his back porch and talks about things he can not possibly know a thing about as if they happend just with in range of his 12 gague. He puts up some decent arguements, granted, but as soon as he begins to get wind of the fact that he’s wrong he starts petting the shot gun (i’ve always taken it as a bit of a hint). Now, i’m not saying you’re petting your shot gun man, but i’m starting to wonder if Old Jack hasn’t gotten him self a computer and decided he might wander into a Message Board where people can’t tell he’s clueless.

Do you know how many thousands of children are enslaved throught out the world right now? Do you know that many of them are Canadian children? should it make a differance that many of them are?

Are you awaire that according to the UN (ineffectual slug that it is notwithstanding) has released a report that the planet is warming up a full degree every decade? Do you know that that’s a bad thing and that something ought to be done about it?

Can you fit it into your head that there are 15,000 homeless children in the capital city of Honduras alone, and only one shelter for them? that they are beaten by police? that those who try to stop the cops from beating the children are thrown in Jail? I met one of these people a couple months ago, he was on the run at the time.

Finally (though there is a practical infinity of interesting little tidbits like these to let you in on) do you realise that we, as Canadains, are doing dick all to try and stop this, and that agreements like the FTAA, groups like the WTO and self interested thugs like JC will only make problems worse?

Trickel down theory has been proven not to work, so dont give me that tired old bullshit. Canada was just ranked as the 25th (NOT the 1st) nation of Peacekeeping by the UN -up from 26th last year if it makes you feel any better.

Just accept that you’re wrong, that history has proven you wrong many times over, and then maybe we can effect some change for the better.

“The Palace is full of Splendor, the fields are full of weeds, the graineries are full of nothing” - Lao Tzu in the Tao Te Ching roughly 2,500 years ago.

(Just thought i’d clear that up before i moved on to the Cop nastyness at the Protests)


These talks should not have been taking place in the first place. Had the talks not taken place, there would have been no wall, no cops. No talks, no wall, no cops meens nothing to protest, and thus, nothing to protest violently.

I have said that i do not support these violent protesters and i stand by that, this violence gets humanity no where etc, etc. But i can understand many of them.

A protest takes place when people feel their democratic voice is not being heard. Were their voices heard they would have no need to protest. When ones voice is so constantly ignored and so blatently stomped upon, anger is a natural (if unfortunate) responce.

There’s Quebec City for you.

Protesting is vital to democracy. Building walls and arming goons (on either side) nullifies any Democratic system and can only cause more problems.

I can’t believe i actually have to write this down, shouldn’t you alredy understand this?

Batz sorry, you’ll have to give me some time on the cite, it was reported on the CBC Radio evening news in the 2nd week of March, 2001 (wrote it down at the time)

I’ll have a look (didn’t want you to think i was ignoring you, so i figured i’d give you what info on it i could before searching)

LaurAnge, what that means is, a Newsweek columnist who may or may not have been present in Quebec, or who may or may not have ‘spoken to anyone who was there’ has no bearing on the validity of his opinion.

matt, I thank you for the backhanded allusions to my cognitive abilities: I guess I should be glad that I’m out of rock-throwing range.

While we’re on the subject of metaphors (even mixed sporting ones - I’m sorry, no maliciousness intended, I just had an honest laugh), let’s try this one on for size:
“the whole ‘protest’ thing is just a catch-all exercise for those with a surfeit of dissatisfaction - economic, emotional, political, personal, whatever”.

I will never deny anyone their rights to protest, and I will always support the actions of the authorities fulfilling their mandate to keep the peace.

While I fully realize that my opinion may not be popular with some, I am also cognizant of the fact that the acts and sentiments of the protesters - violent and non-violent alike - similarly do not extend very much further beyond the pale of those present. As much as you’d like to believe that you speak for the oppressed masses, as I’d like to believe I speak for those with some respect for the political and social institutions of our country, we’re both probably wide of the mark.

I disagree with violence. I disagree with strong police measures. I do not believe that either side is free of blame in this issue. I further believe - as an officer of the judicial system - that the role of the police is one of the most publicized and least understood of any public officials. In more than a decade of direct, daily dealings with police forces, I have come to appreciate the amazing difficulty of the work they do. Despite the fact that the police, like any other professional group, are not immune of misconduct and indiscretion, I find it personally distasteful when those who believe their views to be of more value than the public order the police are sworn to protect vilify the police as the agents of oppression.

Upham, I am not going to assume that the whole “Mr. Bunker” thing was for my benefit. If it was, then I refuse to waste anymore of my time on someone as wilfully obtuse as yourself. Enjoy your life at the fringes of society.

Sorry Arch, but you know how us commie pinkos get sometimes

I think that there might have been a decimal misplaced somewhere along the line. It is my understanding that the projection which the UN is betting on is for an increase of 0.1 to 0.2 degrees C per decade for the next few decades.

Here are some cites to get you started:

United Nations System-Wide Earthwatch: Emerging Environmental Issues

[United Nations System-Wide Earthwatch: Emerging Issues for Agenda 21 Chapter 9 Atmosphere]( change)

WMO/UNEP Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

IPCC Third Assessment Report: Contributions of IPCC Working Groups: WG I “Climate Change 2001: The Scientific Basis”: Summary for Policy Makers: A Report of Working Group 1 of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change This report is in PDF format. Have a boo at page 13.

What needs to be remembered is the context. Warming of 0.1 to 0.2 degrees C per decade is extremely rapid, and will have massive effects on the planet’s ecosystems. Except, of course, for New Jersey, which has previously been proven to be another planet entirely.

Before we continue, I’d like to point out that I “respect… the political and social institutions of our country” enough to have run for Parliament last November. Also, I’d like to know in what sense protest is not a political institution in our country.

The whole problem with this point of view is as follows. When I was protesting in Quebec City, I was behaving in my role as citizen of a democracy to the fullest extent of my ability to do so. I was a part of “the public order the police are sworn to protect” in the fullest possible sense. Political protest is every bit a part of the democratic and political life of our nation as elections or Question Period are.

The police failed in their oaths to protect me, and every single other member of the citizenry who was serving their civic duty of dissent, to the extent that they attacked us with chemical weapons and harmful projectiles for so doing.

As citizens of a democracy, we have not only the right, but the ethical duty to express ourselves democratically, and public manifestation as a method so to do has roots deep in our history. We must not, as a philosopher said, confuse dissent with disloyalty.

I went to Quebec City to serve my country by participating in the political life of my nation, through the medium of public manifestation. In this, I was a very servant of the public order, and for my trouble I was teargassed by police who had sworn to uphold the same.

The mutiny was not on my part, but theirs.

I am assuming that you were trying to say (through slightly mangled English) that the fact he wasn’t there doesn’t detract from his opinion’s validity, right?

Well, since the opinion of his that I stated was on the knowledge of the protesters, I think it would be quite vital for him to have spoken to a few.

I also think it was pretty shitty of you not to respond to Upham’s well-thought out points because of a snarky comment that preceeded them.

Please connect the dots.

  1. How will an FTAA cause an increase in child slavery? Conversely, how will rejection of the FTAA cause a decrease in child slavery?
  2. How is the FTAA connected to global warming? More accurately, how would the FTAA conflict with Kyoto (or whatever replaces it)? Is it because FTAA will increase prosperity in Latin America?
  3. How will the FTAA increase the number of homeless children in Honduras, or decrease the number of shelters for them? How will it affect the policing policies of the Honduran government? Conversely, how will rejection of the FTAA benefit the homeless children of Honduras?

These conditions exist already. Many parts of the developing world have atrocious environmental conditions and abhorrent labor conditions. Contrary to too many quotes from protestors I’ve heard in the media, the FTAA would not create these conditions.
How will rejection of the FTAA cause the improvement of labor and environmental conditions in Latin America? OTOH, how will the rejection of labor and environmental provisions in the FTAA worsen labor and environmental conditions in Latin America?

What is the cure for the labor and environmental problems in the developing world? Prosperity. The only nations in the world with strong labor-rights and environmental movements are properous nations. That ain’t a coincidence.

Given that free trade increases prosperity, it would seem that the pro-labor and pro-environmental position would be to support the FTAA.


LaurAnge, I will satisfy your pathetic cries for attention by humoring you one last time.

Upham’s “well thought-out” arguments are certainly a hit-and-miss affair at best, and when they are not only not addressed to me, nor on topic concerning the events in Quebec City, I don’t think I need respond.

Lastly, there is no possible way I could care less what you think of my behavior. I’ll leave it at that, trying to avoid the personal bent some of these agruments have taken. I do not agree with matt’s politics, but I do not let that form the basis of any personal opinion.

As for you, by all means continue to get your knickers in a twist over Newsweek articles. One must have priorities, I suppose.

How will the FTAA make the things you have mentioned worse? How will it increase child slavery of homelessless in Honduras?

Hey, I think the police acted atrociously at Quebec City, but I can differentiate between the arguments - even if the police were in the wrong, that doesn’t make opposition to FTAA right, and most of the folks I’ve heard opposed to it didn’t seem to really know what the hell they were talking about. What the heck does FTAA have to do with child slavery? Is there a section in NAFTA that says “Child slavery is just dandy”? What about free trade would force the police to beat homeless people?

What I find curious about all this is the extent to which a simple concept like “free trade” is being blamed for a variety of ills that obviously have nothing to do with “free trade.” Does anyone really think that Canada erecting a few tariffs will magically turn Honduras into a happy place?

I don’t think “trickle down” theory has anything to do with peacekeeping.