Toronto Globe & Mail: Two Quebec reports


Richard Moore

Dear rn,

I'd like to thank Jan again for her inspired participation
in the FTAA protests, and for sending us her front-line
bulletin.  These next two reports give us perspectives from
a movement spokesperson (Naomi Klein) and from a neoliberal
advocate (Sinclair Stevens).   Naomi is playing an important
role with her ongoing attempts to explain the meaning of our
leaderless, decentralized movement.  The article from
Stevens is a ~very~ encouraging one.  Here's a fellow who
helped push through the neoliberal agenda, while in the
Canadian Government.   I can't quite say he was radicalized
by his experience in Quebec City, but the truth is somewhere
close to that.  He may not buy into the economic thread of
the movement, but his words do a lot to promote the
democracy thread.

I find it significant that these two articles appeared in a
prominent Toronto newspaper, and this may symbolize a
promising trend.  Although the global media always portrays
the protests as 'cops vs. black block' skirmishes, the local
media (as we saw in Seattle) often presents a much more
balanced view.  Perhaps, as protests continue in city after
city, this will gradually build up a significant
constituency for the growing movement.  Every little bit


btw> I'll be in Dublin this weekend at a "Convergence
Festival" put on by "Sustainable Ireland".   Laurence Cox is
chairing a series of workshops on "Tools for Change", and
I've got a two-hour slot to talk about "Post Seattle:
Building a Global Movement", followed by plenty of time for

Monday we'll continue our dialog thread.

Date:         Tue, 24 Apr 2001 22:59:01 -0500
From: Mark Douglas Whitaker <•••@••.•••>
Subject:      NEWS: Not One or Two, but Hundreds of Protests  Naomi Klein,
              Globe and Mail April 24, 2001
To: •••@••.•••

Not One or Two, but Hundreds of Protests
Naomi Klein, Globe and Mail
April 24, 2001

Maude Barlow, chair of the Council of Canadians, is
condemned for not calling off "Maude's Mob." Activist Jaggi
Singh is in jail for allegedly possessing a weapon that he
never owned or used -- a theatrical catapult that shot
stuffed animals over the infamous fence in Quebec City
during last week's Summit of the Americas.

It's not just that the police didn't get the joke, it's that
they don't get that they the new era of political protest,
one adapted to our post-modern times. There was no one
person or group who could call off "their people," because
the tens of thousands who came out to protest the Free Trade
Area of the Americas are part of a movement that doesn't
have a leader, a center, or even an agreed-upon name. Yet it
exists, undeniably, nonetheless.

What is difficult to convey in media reports is that there
weren't two protests that took place in Quebec City -- one a
"peaceful" labor march, the other "violent" anarchist riot.
There were hundreds of protests. One was organized by a
mother and daughter from Montreal. Another by a van load of
grad students from Edmonton. Another by three friends from
Toronto who aren't members of anything but their health
clubs. Yet another by a couple of waiters from a local cafe
on their lunch break.

Sure there were well organized groups in Quebec City: the
unions had buses, matching placards and a parade route; the
"black bloc" of anarchists had gas masks and radio links.
But for days the streets were also filled with people who
simply said to a friend, "Let's go to Quebec," and with
Quebec City residents who said, "Let's go outside." They
didn't join one big protest, they participated in a moment.

How could it be otherwise? The traditional institutions that
once organized citizens into neat, structured groups are all
in decline: unions, religions, political parties. Yet
something propelled tens of thousands of individuals to the
streets anyway, an intuition, a gut instinct -- perhaps just
the profoundly human desire to be part of something larger
than oneself.

Did they have their party-line together, a detailed
dissection of the ins and outs of the FTAA? Not always. But
neither can the Quebec protests be dismissed as vacuous
political tourism. George W. Bush's message at the summit
was that the mere act of buying and selling would do our
governing for us. "Trade helps spread freedom," he said.

It was precisely this impoverished and passive vision of
democracy that was rejected on the streets outside. Whatever
else they were searching for, all were certainly looking for
a taste of direct political participation. The result of
these hundreds of miniature protests converging was chaotic,
sometimes awful, but frequently inspiring. One thing is
certain: after at last shaking off the mantle of political
spectatorship, the last thing these people are about to do
is hand over the reins to a cabal of would-be leaders.

The protesters will, however, become more organized, a fact
which has more to do with the actions of police than the
directives of Maude Barlow, Jaggi Singh, or, for that
matter, me. If people wandered and stumbled to Quebec City,
profoundly unsure of what it meant to be part of a political
movement, something united us all once we arrived: mass
arrests, rubber bullets, but most of all, a thick white
blanket of gas.

Despite Canada's Liberal Party line of praising "good"
protesters while condemning "bad" ones, treatment of
everyone on the streets of Quebec City was crude, cowardly
and indiscriminate. The security forces used the actions of
a few rock throwers as a camera-friendly justification to do
what they have been trying to do from the start: clear the
city of thousands of lawful protesters because it was more
convenient that way.

Once they got their "provocation," they filled entire
neighborhoods with toxic fumes, forcing families to breathe
through masks in their living rooms.

Frustrated that the wind was against them, they sprayed some
more. People giving the peace sign to the police were
gassed. People handling our food were gassed. I met a
50-year-old woman from Ottawa who told me cheerfully, "I
went out to buy a sandwich and was gassed twice." People
having a party under a bridge were gassed. People protesting
their friends' arrests were gassed. The first-aid clinic
treating people who had been gassed, was gassed.

Tear gas was supposed to break-down the protesters but it
had the opposite effect: it enraged and radicalized them,
enough to cheer for "Black Blockers" who dared to throw the
canisters back. It may be light and atomized enough to ride
on air, but I suspect the coming months will show that gas
also has powerful bonding properties.

Delivered-To: •••@••.•••
From: "Brit Eckhart" <•••@••.•••>
To: ">" <•••@••.•••>
Subject: Fw: [BGAN-FTAA] 4/24 (G&M): A Police State in the Making
Date: Tue, 24 Apr 2001 22:49:51 -0400

-----Original Message-----
From: Rajiv Rawat <•••@••.•••>
To: •••@••.••• <•••@••.•••>
Date: Tuesday, April 24, 2001 3:32 PM
Subject: [BGAN-FTAA] 4/24 (G&M): A Police State in the Making

This from a pro-free trade, conservative politician! - R


Published on Tuesday, April 24, 2001 in the Toronto Globe & Mail

A Police State in the Making
Democracy Trampled in Quebec City

by Sinclair Stevens

I never thought I'd be writing this article, surely not in

There aren't many people in this country who view free trade
as positively as I do. As industry minister in the Mulroney
government, I participated in the 1985 Shamrock Summit that
set the stage for our trade agreement with the United
States. I was even responsible for replacing the Foreign
Investment Review Agency with Investment Canada, a welcome
mat for our partners to the South.

There also aren't many people who view the maintenance of
law and order as a higher priority than I do.

But this past weekend, I was shocked by events in Quebec
City. Shocked by what I saw, and stunned by what my wife,
Noreen, and I personally experienced.

I believe Canada is right to view free trade as a model for
democratic development in every corner of our hemisphere,
and I was delighted to see us host the Summit of the
Americas. But our government is dead wrong to behave in a
manner that suggests we have forgotten what democracy is all

Noreen and I arrived in Quebec City last Friday at about 5
p.m. We had heard about the so-called security fence and
wanted to see it firsthand, to walk along beside it. My
first view of the fence was in front of the Chteau
Frontenac. It brought back memories of many happy visits to
that hotel. But, this weekend, I could not enter: The hotel
was inside the fence, I was outside.

As we walked around the perimeter, a 40-year-old chap passed
us, and asked: "Where is your gas mask?" I asked what he
meant. He said: "There is gas farther on -- watch out." We
continued until we saw our first contingent of riot-geared
police lined up three deep behind a closed gate. They were
an intimidating sight -- in battle dress, with helmets,
masks, shields and assorted elaborate weapons. I was glad,
this time, that they were inside the fence and we were

Farther on, just before we got to Dufferin Street, there
were perhaps 50 people -- protesters, it turned out -- who
were standing or sitting on a small side road. At the end of
the road, we saw a much larger group of riot police standing
shoulder-to-shoulder, several rows deep. The road was well
away from the security fence. In fact, the fence was nowhere
in sight.

I spoke with many of the people in the street, asked them
why they had gathered, why they opposed the free trade
proposals. It was a lively but friendly exchange.

We were interrupted as the police down the road began an
eerie drumming, rattling their riot sticks against their
shields. Slowly, in unison, one six-inch step at a time,
they began marching toward us. Noreen and I moved to the
side of the street, as the protesters remained stationary.
Some formed V signs with their fingers.

To my horror, the police then fired tear gas canisters
directly at those sitting or standing on the road.

As clouds of gas began to spread, Noreen and I felt our eyes
sting and our throats bake. We pulled whatever clothing we
could across our mouths. One young woman, who had been among
the protesters, offered us some vinegar. "What's that for?"
I asked. "It takes away the sting," she said. And it did

The police, however, kept advancing. One large policeman
with the number 5905 on his helmet, pressed right against me
and ordered me to get behind a railing. "I haven't done
anything," I protested. "Why?" He simply replied: "Get
behind the rail." Then he added, "and get down." I did so.

I shook my head. I never thought I would ever see this kind
of police-state tactic in Canada. What we witnessed that
night was mild compared to events the next afternoon.

This time, walked along the fence until we reached the gate
at Ren Lvesque Boulevard, where a great crowd had gathered
that included TV cameras and reporters. I was asked for an
interview by a CBC crew but, before we could begin, dozens
of tear gas canisters were fired, water cannons were sprayed
and rubber bullets began to hit people nearby. Three times,
I felt could not breathe, my eyes were sore and all I could
do was run. In the bedlam, my wife and I were separated for
almost three hours. She said she had almost passed out from
the gassing.

We lost something else, besides each other, last weekend in
Quebec: our innocence. This government, and some reporters,
like to brand the Quebec City demonstrators as "hooligans."
That is not fair. I talked to dozens of them, mostly
university students, aged about 20. They came to Quebec, not
to have "a good time," as some suggest, but to express their
well-thought-out views on a subject that is important to
them, to all of us.

I may not have agreed with their position, but I sure
believe in their right to express it. The police had no
cause to violently suppress it.

Some will say that a handful of demonstrators got out of
hand and forced the police to take collective action. I
can't agree. The police action in Quebec City, under orders
from our government, was a provocation itself -- an assault
on all our freedoms.

Sinclair Stevens, minister of regional industrial expansion
under Brian Mulroney, was an MP from 1972 to 1988.

Copyright  2001 Globe Interactive

Richard K Moore
Wexford, Ireland
Citizens for a Democratic Renaissance 
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