Although it seems we narrowly avoided a local strike by CUPE 4207 (with a tentative collective agreement being reached between them and Brock this weekend), elsewhere in every province, citizens joined together to protest a more wide-reaching issue currently being dealt with in Parliament.
On March 14, informally called “A Day of Action”, coordinated protests took place in over 70 locations across Canada, including Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa, Vancouver, stretching even to Whitehorse and Yellowknife (though, not anywhere in the Niagara region, as indicated by leadnow.ca). Protestors held signs that labelled Harper a terrorist, or phrases like “Say No To War”, and wore tape over their mouths and handcuffs on their wrists. Turnouts varied from thousands in larger cities to mere hundreds in towns, but regardless, it’s clear that this is a national concern, unifying people across the country to action in a way unseen in some time.
This isn’t an audience for something entertaining, like the Ford family circus; nor is it the same as the minor outrage currently being garnered by the Ontario government’s new health education curriculum. Canadians are paying attention to Bill C-51, attending events and reading the actual language because it’s truly important, which is only helped by the modern buzzword appeal of terms like terrorism, national security and privacy.
Despite all of Harper’s efforts to speed the bill along, and repeatedly assure Canadians that the bill is going to save them from impending terrorist attacks, thousands of people have taken action to show their dissent. This is not to be taken lightly.
Look at how much work goes into boosting student votership at Brock, in which each year the Chief Returning Officer and other volunteers work tirelessly make students aware how easy it is to take part in our school’s democracy. The result is an achingly slow increase in participation each time a vote is taken, despite the relatively small size of our student population and the undebatable ease with which each student can vote. Considered on the scale of the country and its intricately varied population, concerning a topic that applies to all and is, realistically, far more important than student governance in terms of its effect, it’s surprising that anyone showed up to protest on Saturday at all.
It was made clear this weekend that if Harper wants to force feed the country this bill, it won’t be as simple saying “it’s good for you” and expect us to swallow. Some parts of the bill may very well be for the best, but it’s obvious that such a radical change to our nation should be considered carefully, patiently and openly with Canadians everywhere.