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Tour, Days 5,6,7,8: Sackville through Ottawa catchup

posted by dru

March 7, 2008

Tour, Days 5,6,7,8: Sackville through Ottawa catchup

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These blogging plans start with the best of intentions, but things get out of hand quickly. Here's an attempt to catch up on the places we've visited:

Sackville gave us lots of love, with a well-attended event at the United Church (thanks to Judith Weiss and Ramsey Hart for an excellent organizing job). I got to chat (briefly) with the current editors of the Argosy, which is always fun. We heard grumbling about the Irvings, and their new refinery (as we did everywhere in NB). The big story in town, it seems, is the back room dealings around water privatization. I confess to not delving into the details, but it sounds to be a sordid story of backroom deals, no-bid contracts and cash bonanzas for French water multinationals. Exciting times.

Woodstock wasn't actually an official stop on the tour, but it's a good stopping point on the way to Montreal, and it's also the home of one of the only newspapers not owned by the Irving family in NB, though we didn't get a chance to visit. We did hear about the Irving's tactics in the forestry industry, which is hurting (due in large part to Canada's "strong" oil profits). Many pulp and lumber mills are closing, and Irving has taken the opportunity to grab the rights to crown land and sign deals with the government to keep the mills permanently closed, effectively making their lock on the local industry even stronger and long-lasting.

Eastern Quebec did not treat us well, d'ailleurs. We got stuck in a massive snow storm between a few hundred kilometers before Quebec City, and the highway was closed for the rest of the day. Calisse! After driving through several complete periods of whiteout (literally zero visibility) and trying three different routes, we found our way to Quebec and then to Montreal. A 5 and a half hour drive was thus completed in 12 hours, and we showed up at the door in Montreal five minutes before our presentation was set to start. While driving, we did see vestiges of a political battle over the Rabaska Liquid Natural Gas terminal, which was recently given the green light by the feds.

Montreal was a low-key but solid event, hosted by MUCS and friends, though things did briefly degenerate into a debate about the CBC. We're hoping to do a bigger event for the five-year publishing anniversary in May. Stay tuned. For now, on to...

Ottawa has always been fertile ground for independent media organizing, and there is now talk of starting up the Ottawa edition. Meanwhile, the Ottawa Indymedia collective seems to be in full swing, and working on many projects.

Next stop: Toronto.

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