Kitchener Casseroles

assembly begins

When I arrived at Kitchener City Hall for “Casseroles Night In Canada,” I was proud to see how many people had turned out to show our support, not just for the striking Quebec students (as of this writing the strike is now at Day 110), but because of concern about the erosion of Canadian civil rights by laws like Quebec’s Bill 78 or C-309.

And the crowd kept growing.

the crowd stretches along the front of Kitcener City Hall

Imagine my surprise at reading macleans.ca: Modest crowds at Casserole Nights

being interviewed at the protest
Organizer Charles Boyes

Hah! There were a lot more than a hundred people there, by the end of the night there were closer to 300 collected at the Kitchener Casseroles rally.

With barely more than a day spent in organizing the “event” on Facebook, that was an awfully impressive turnout for a mid sized Ontario city to muster in support of our Quebecois neighbours.

Bill 78

As many have pointed out,  Jean Charest’s National Assembly of Quebec passed Bill 78 which severely restricts peaceful protest in direct contravention of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

This law has a two year limit, which is apparently to get around any constitutional challenge. This blatant manipulation of the mechanics of government to deliberately strip citizens of our civil rights should not be tolerated.

banging a pot with a wooden spoon
“Casseroles” is a traditional form of political protest in Quebec

… In Quebec, an event is also underway. The organizers gave their route to the police. Monday night, the police department of the City of Quebec (SPVQ) has arrested dozens of protesters outside the building where the negotiations took place between the government and student associations.

— Huffington Post: 36e manifestation nocturne à Montréal [google translation]

protester bangs a pot holding a poster poster

There are a lot of problems facing Canada, and many of them boil down to the fact the Canadian electoral system is seriously broken.

We’ve seen growing voter apathy over the last decades precisely because the Canadian government does *not* listen to citizens, especially when there is a majority government.

A great many citizens have given up on voting in frustration . . . after all, what is the point of educating yourself about the issues and the candidates, and then going out to the polls to cast a vote that doesn’t count? The frustration is very hard to take. As far as I know, the only group working for electoral reform is Fair Vote Canada, a grass roots multi-partisan group seeking to bring fairness to our electoral system.

Protests like this give citizens a voice, and remind us that our voices *should* be heard.

As long as half the Canadian voters stay home from the polls, as long as the system remains broken, this will not get better. The only way to change the system is to engage the citizens who feel disenfranchised. Protests like these can engage Canadians who have come to distrust our so-called representative democracy. Giving a voice to the citizens who have lost faith in our antiquated non-responsive un-representative system is a valuable end, in and of itself.

Standing up for the civil liberties guaranteed Canadians in Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is worth taking to the streets for.

Quebec’s Bill 78 and the federal Private Member’s Bill C-309 criminalize the wearing of masks and/or covering of faces at a protest. Freedom of association, religious freedom, health considerations, and the right to anonymous protest are among the civil liberties threatened by these laws.

When I hear government ministers like James Moore argue that Canadian copyright law needs to be “modernized” because it hasn’t been updated in a few decades makes me wonder why our government isn’t fighting to modernize an electoral system older than Confederation. Could it be because the current system grants a disproportionate amount of power to the few?

We are at a point where technology could be fuelling a period of unprecedented democracy, equality and prosperity for Canadians. I have high hopes that we will be able to achieve meaningful electoral reform and can pass real democracy to our children.

In the Interim. large numbers of Canadians protesting *does* get their attention, even in a majority government. Thank you, Kitchener, for standing up for what’s right, for a better Quebec, and a better Canada.

There had been a police presence on the periphery from the beginning; when the Kitchener Casseroles protest spilled out into King street and spontaneously turned into a march, the police cars moved in with lights flashing, following the protest. I think this made everyone a little bit nervous, but it turned out they were simply effecting traffic control. I would like to extend my thanks to the Waterloo Region Police for rendering this service.

The march wended its way to the Kitchener Market, where anyone who wanted to speak was allowed a forum. Speakers discussed the situation in Quebec, conditions imposed by Bill 78, and discussed the support the protesters have been getting from Quebec citizens and the business community. One professor spoke of the importance of extending educational opportunities to all, and a student from Quebec expressed her thanks to the assemblage for our support.

I am so proud of Kitchener . . . and the rest of Canada 🙂

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