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From Montebello: What Stephen Harper's Video Feed May Have Missed

posted by Stuart Neatby Geography: Quebec Montebello Topics: foreign policy, economics

August 20, 2007

From Montebello: What Stephen Harper's Video Feed May Have Missed

CopsInGraveYard.jpg

Photo: IMC Montebello

The tear gassing appears to have started around 5:30 PM. By that time, much of the corporate media had left Montebello, and many of the demonstrators had left for Ottawa and Montreal.

‘They’re going to wait for the media to leave before they start to clear the demonstrators,’ my friend Kabir had remarked 20 minutes before. It ended up being a dead-on prediction.

Before this point, the entire affair had been reasonably mellow, a street party punctuated by a line of unmoving protestors in front of unmoving police. There had been a few volleys of pepper spray from police, but the demonstration largely stayed put in front of the line of Surete du Quebec and Ontario Provincial Police stormtroopers. A Red Cross official I spoke to had noted that they had received a few injuries by 5PM, six hours after the demonstration had started, but noted that there weren't many overall. Once the teargassing of the crowd began later in the day, this number surely rose. I counted about 15 volleys of tear gas, which, oddly enough, began at a time when the demonstration seemed to be winding down.

The demonstration of 1400 opponents to the secretive Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP), occurred outside of a summit of George W. Bush, Stephen Harper, and Felipe Calderon, the three heads of state of the NAFTA countries in Montebello, a remote resort town 45 minutes outside of Ottawa. The SPP would effectively harmonize the trade, security, energy, social, environmental, and foreign policies of the three countries, creating a new scheme of ‘free trade’ in the post 9-11 era of security paranoia.

True to form, Canadian PM Stephen Harper was dismissive of the showing of democracy located outside of the Montebello resort where the summit was taking place today.

"I've heard it's nothing. A couple hundred? It's sad," he remarked to a CBC reporter.

Yet the three leaders, as well as the 30 or so Corporate CEO’s (under the umbrella of the North American Competitiveness Council), inside the summit were keen to display their transparency. Summit organizers announced two days ago that the three heads of state would be able to watch a live video feed of the demonstrations outside.

Tom D’Aquino, bane of the Canadian left and chair of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives, did not appear to have been impressed by the live feed.

"I do not say to myself, 'If I don't get an hour with the prime minister in the next six months, I'm going to go out and protest and reject the system outright,' " said D’Aquino, who clearly had several hours of quiet time with Stephen Harper throughout the day, to another CBC journalist.

"I don't do that because civilized human beings — those who believe in democracy — don't do that."

Inaction is democracy. Obedience is participation. ‘Civilized human beings' are not allowed to 'reject the system outright.'

It’s difficult to imagine that even the mainstream media could make this look good.


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