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On The Futility of Protests in Canada

Posted 2010-06-28 Tags: None

I fully believe that the G20 protests were a waste of everybody's time and money. The actions taken by police were unnecessary, but it is the acts of the protesters that I think were truly disgusting and stupid.

The problem is that there were many people who had legitimate things to protest at the G20 and now, because of their association with what has happened, they have had their points of view robbed of legitimacy. You were downtown to protest the fact that an elite cadre of capitalists is deciding the general fate of the world? You must be a nut, because you burned a cop car! You think sweatshops are bad? You are a felon; how reasonable can your point of view be?

What makes me really angry is that Canada is actually a pretty remarkable place to get your voice heard. There's access to many different media outlets - it isn't particularly hard to get your opinions onto local television, for instance. It's also pretty easy to get into political sessions in your town or city, and to stand up and be heard. For those who are more than just flash-in-the-pan, need to be heard, instant gratification seekers, it isn't even that hard to get into local politics and become one of the people directly responsible for making decisions. The problem is, it'll take you twenty or thirty years to get into a position where you would have any clout at a place like the G20.

I think this is the root of the problem. We have a group of people who have spent twenty, thirty, forty years in politics to get to the places that they are, so that they have the power to make the decisions that they do for the world. And you have a bunch of twenty year old berks who have a sense of entitlement and want the decision makers at the G20 to listen to them rightnow rightnow rightnow because my ideas are soooo good ill save the world just listenman listen to meeeee. Everyone who looked at the situation objectively knew that this was not the correct time or place to get your opinions out there. We knew about the billion dollar security budget. We knew that there were many more police officers than normal. We knew that all of what happened would probably happen as it did. Those of us who were intelligent stayed away and did not get arrested for no reason. And mark my words, the protests fell on deaf ears - if anything, showing up was impressively detrimental to your cause.

I'm not even going to talk about the anarchists who were there. Anarchists hold a point of view that I can, in no way, have respect for.

Don't get me wrong; I'm not saying that protesting doesn't have an appropriate time and appropriate place. I have protested things before. In high school, we had a protest about something. I forget what it was, but I sure was angry. And we knew the policy makers personally. We attended the protest, we explained ourselves reasonably. End of the story, we got whatever it was that we wanted (I think it was something to do with fund raising for a school trip to Scotland, but I'm fuzzy on the details). This model worked, because we were one interaction layer from those we were protesting (students <==> teachers). At that level, protest is effective. Strikes are on the same level (workers <==> employers). On this level, each side has something that the other side wants, so effective communication opens / can open and changes can be made.

Next time there is a G8/G20, do everyone a favour: Instead of going out, stay home, and think about how you can get involved in a meaningful way. Write your speech for when you run for city councillor instead of going out and getting arrested. It'll be much better way to serve your time.