Sunday, November 28, 2004

Bush comes to Canada

Occasionally things happen in Canada that pique ones curiosity. Hell, I'd go so far as to say I'm VERY INTERESTED in what's going to happen in my country this Tuesday.

Lawyers Against the War are an international protest movement that I first became aware of when I saw their banner during an anti-war march last spring (the one which Noam Chomsky spoke at). They're declaring GWB a war criminal and are taking a two-pronged course of action, on the one hand by trying to get the Canadian government to bar Bush from entering the country, and on the other, considering trying to press charges against him when he comes. Given a pattern of complicity by the Canadian government in American politics, a general lack of political self-assertiveness that comes with the territory of being Canadian, and our economic dependency on the United States, of which Canadians are well aware, it seems fairly unlikely that anything too dramatic is going to happen.

Of course, there will be protests -- angry people in the streets, waving signs. I'll be among them, but I guess I shouldn't let myself hope for anything more. It's like the buildup to last year's general strike in Vancouver -- the one that was cancelled at the last minute; all the grafitti heralding the action lingered for awhile, adding a what-if-we-had flavour to our workdays, but it was like we knew all along that nothing would come of it, knew we'd be too afraid to put the matter to the test. In the end, all the hospital workers at the center of the strike were laid off, their jobs contracted out as planned, replaced by part-timers and huge indifferent corporations; I was told by one of the doctors (who no longer eats at the hospital) that a cook who had worked at St. Pauls for 27 years, devoting himself to the well being of the staff, was replaced, pensionless, by a megacorporation mentioned in Super Size Me. We can wonder, now that the moment has passed, why we just rolled over, why we didn't strike, what weakness kept us from going the distance. Much as some of us would like to see some changes to the current world order, no doubt the same weakness will surface on Tuesday.

It's sad to see, really: even Jack Layton, the alleged voice of the left, is gearing up to kiss Bush's ass, which is pretty disgusting to some of us. Politicians who aren't towing that line are getting pushed aside. Protest marches are more a sign of our political disenfranchisement than anything else -- our politicians don't represent us, we have no access to the corridors of power, so we have to just brace ourselves for anticlimax and head out into the streets.

One can dream, tho'. Of course, it'll be in Ottawa that things will happen, if anywhere. Still, for those of us off to the side of things, have organized rallies around lunch on Tuesday in front of the American consulate in Vancouver and a gathering/march at 5PM (for us workin' folk) in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery. The posters, glued up around the city, have the message "war criminals not welcome here" across Bush's forehead. Probably he'll get a warmer reception than he got in Chile, but... it's Canada, for God sake. Doing things you feel proud of is practically taboo.

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