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McCain visits Ottawa in vain

June 21, 2008

McCain visits Ottawa in vain

Police outside Chateau Laurier.jpg

OTTAWA- on Friday, June 20th, Senator John McCain visited Ottawa to meet with officials and business representatives. Speaking to a sold out luncheon at the prestigious Fairmont Chateau Laurier hotel, Sen. McCain addressed such noteworthy guests as Thomas D’Aquino, president of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives, and David Emerson, Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Invited by the Economic Club of Toronto, the candidate was met with a vocal and articulate opposition outside hotel’s entrance. A press conference organized by the Council of Canadians outside the main doors saw the attention of such news service agencies as the CBC, the A Channel, and even CNN.

A crowd of roughly 100 protesters from the Student Coalition Against War, No War/Paix, Graduate Students Association of the University of Ottawa, and even Babies Against McCain assembled to show their disdain to the visit. Maude Barlow, president of the Council explained NAFTA and free trade are a major part of the reason for the protest. “We are particularly concerned about three things. One is the energy provisions that disproportionately force us to share our energy with the U.S. The second is water, and the third major issue is that corporations have a right to sue [as individuals] under NAFTA.” If McCain is elected, Ms. Barlow predicts it will be “more of the Bush agenda.” She warns that
the world cannot afford another George [W.] Bush, it cannot afford the presidency of Senator McCain.”

The senator was also received coldly by the Prime Minister who was out of town during the visit. According to the National Post “Mr. Harper's advisors are concerned about the appearance of interference or favouritism in the middle of a fiercely-fought U.S. presidential campaign.” But the Council of Canadians thought otherwise. To add creativity to an otherwise predictable event, the Council brought in actors intended to represent the senator, Stephen Harper, and even a Barney look-alike called NAFTAsaurus.

Bringing forward a strong environmental agenda, the protesters held banners demanding a “Phase Out of Coal-Fired Plants Canada Wide.” Environmental issues arising from the Security and Prosperity Partnership were also brought forward, namely the increase in five fold production of the Tar Sands in Alberta. This issue was particularly pertinent as Mr. D’Aquino’s corporate lobby group, the CCCE (made up of over 100 of the top Canadian CEOs) was the body that originally composed and proposed the Partnership to President George W. Bush back in 2001.

Other issues brought forward were Senator McCain’s infamous statement of the U.S. Army remaining in Iraq for another “100 years.” “We are against the visit of the warmonger, McCain. We do not want his ideas, his way of thinking. We want a change,” said one protester.

The only group who attended in support of the Senator was Carleton University’s Ragen-Goldwater Society. Scott Gorry of the Society explained their presence was meant to “support conservative ideas. John McCain is a conservative so we are here to support his values.” When asked what these values are, Mr. Gorry named “social, economic, and political freedoms. A free market system… equality for everybody.” He continued, “we believe in the Capitalism society. There [have] been more people that have been advantaged through Capitalism than the oppressive, socialist, collective societies.”

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