Omnibudget Meets Kitchener Casseroles ~ June 13th

Although I support Fairvote Canada I’m not a member, as I’m not a member of any political party. I feel this is necessary for me as a citizen journalist, because it is important I speak only for myself, retaining the freedom to speak out against what I think are bad policies even from organizations I may otherwise support. I’m a writer, not a leader.

But I will attend and even photograph protests I find important. And occasionally I’ll stick my oar in. As now.

On Wednesday there will be another round of “Black Mark Budget” protests against the federal government’s Omnibus budget. Because we are currently cursed with a majority government, the only way this budget can be stopped is by convincing 13 sitting conservative MPs to be heroes and vote against it.

In Waterloo Region, two such events are planned for

Wednesday June 13, 5:30 PM

1) Peter Braid’s office,
22 King St. South, Waterloo

and

2) Stephen Woodworth’s office,
300 Victoria St. North, Kitchener

Wednesday night will also be Day 122 of the Quebec Student Strike, and so will be the third Casseroles Night In Canada.

This protest is to support the students fighting for education for all, as well as to protest Quebec’s unconstitutional Bill 78, which contravenes civil rights guaranteed Canadians under our Charter of Rights and Freedoms as well as breaches Canada’s international human rights obligations.

my idea

I’m throwing this out there in case it’s useful, but it’s about as much organizing as I can do.  If the two protests at the MPs offices incorporate the music of clanging pots and pans, after perhaps half an hour, at, say, 6:00, the protest chould turn into two parts of a casseroles parade heading toward Victoria Park for a last bit of citizen musicale and any speechifying anyone cares to do could take place.

The marchers will probably arrive at the park long before 8:00, so I think the Casseroles time should be moved back to 7:00 pm. Maybe people can bring a lunch (everyone should have water) and make it a picnic at the park.

I think it will continue to be family friendly, and, like the previous Casseroles protests, will be untroubled by police, especially if the march manages to stay on the sidewalk.

Possible route:


My idea is offered as a suggestion because I think both groups would benefit from cross pollinization. Maybe the distance is too far for a walk, especially on a hot day.  Feel free to take the idea and run with it.  Or not.  The point is that we *all* have a voice.

My reasons for supporting both initiatives can be found in my previous article Two Protests for June 2nd, 2011

I’ll leave you with Elizabeth May’s attempt to summarize the horrific environmental problems with the Omnibudget:

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Two Protests for June 2nd, 2011

“The Black Mark Budget Action”
and
“Against the Criminalization of Dissent”

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Anita Nickerson says:

If you are undecided about coming out to one of the BlackMark Budget Actions Saturday at noon, please read this post and share it. Thanks to Jennifer Ross for compiling this ever-growing list.

Bill C-38 has something in it for everyone.

Concerned about the Environment? This bill:

  • repeals The Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act;
  • dismantles The Canadian Environmental Assessment Act;
  • excludes concerned citizens from assessments of major projects like the Enbridge pipeline;
  • downloads responsibility for most environmental assessments to provinces;
  • gives final say over pipeline projects to Conservative cabinet ministers—regardless of environmental impacts.
  • lays off the entire Canadian scientific community looking at ocean contaminants. Did you know we have a lot of coastline? Meaning there’s a lot of ocean not being examined, which will impact the worldwide science in this area.
  • eliminates habitat protection from The Fisheries Act;
  • limits the waterways protected by The Species at Risk Act and The Fisheries Act;
  • dismantles the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, leaving natural areas vulnerable

Perhaps you are concerned about Health. This bill:

  • shortchanges cash-strapped provinces of expected health transfers by $31 billion;
  • weakens food and drug regulations at the discretion of the Minister of Health;
  • ends vital Auditor General oversight of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency;
  • paves the way for private contractors to perform food safety inspections.

Is it Employment that interests you? This bill:

  • forces Canadians to work two years longer, to age 67, to qualify for Old Age Security;
  • cuts workers off Employment Insurance if they don’t take any job the Minister of Human Resources deems “suitable”;
  • repeals The Fair Wages and Hours of Labour Act;
  • removes federal contractors from the protection of The Employment Equity Act.
  • brings in foreign workers and allows them to be paid 15% less than our minimum wage.

Is it Democracy that interests you? This bill:

  • reduces the Auditor General’s powers to hold government accountable to Canadians;
  • removes independent oversight from 12 key government agencies—including the – Northern Pipeline Agency, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and the Canada Revenue Agency;
  • eliminates organizations that produce independent policy research—including Rights & Democracy, the National Council of Welfare, and the First Nations Statistical Institute;
  • dissolves the Public Appointments Commission designed to ensure key positions are assigned based on merit instead of insider connections;
  • allows the FBI to come into Canada and arrest Canadians on Canadian soil.

You only need to be concerned over one of these to come out and express your displeasure at the way ALL of these are being rammed down our throats without the slightest bit of examination, discussion, or negotiation. And almost none of it was in the election platform of a year ago.

In Waterloo Region:

Join us Saturday June 2 at noon at Conservative MP Peter Braid’s office
22 King Street South, Waterloo

and

Stephen Woodworth’s at noon
Suite 12, 300 Victoria Street North, Kitchener

to protest the omnibus budget bill.

Bring signs with messages specifically against the bill.

Bring Canadian flags.

and dress appropriately for the weather!

Facebook Event page

For information about the other 68 Black Mark Protests scheduled across Canada visit leadnow.ca

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Against the Criminalization of Dissent

Opposing Bill C 78 and the Federal Bill C 309

Kitchener City Hall ~ June 2nd ~ at 7:00pm Saturday Evening

Demonstration in Solidarity with the struggle in Quebec.

From the Facebook Event page

Bring your Masks, Bring your Pots and Pans, Claim our Freedom to Dissent, Protesting is not a Crime!

We will wear masks and hear speeches about the struggle in Quebec, the international assault on the poor, and the Federal Bill C 309.

Then we will disobey. We will march in our masks.

Bring your pots and pans. As demos in Quebec have been incorporating the clanging of pots and pans – we will do the same!

Some masks will be available as supplies last. Feel free to wear any type of mask that you’d like.
Get creative; we can have fun, mocking these laws!

Background:

As of May 26, students in Quebec are on their 104th day of strike and protest against proposed tuition increases.
A violent clamp down has taken place and police brutality is rampant. Serious injuries have resulted.

On May 18, 2012 Bill C 78 was passed into law. The law restricts the ability to demonstrate and organize opposition to the system.
The legislation provides for fines of $3,000 for wearing a mask.
Penalties climb to between $7,000 and $35,000 for a student leader and to between $25,000 and $125,000 for unions or
student federations who organize protests outside of the fascist framework of the bill.
The struggle is only growing and intensifying in response!!!!

There is also legislation in the works that threatens to further criminalize dissent, across the Nation

Blake Richards, MP Wild Rose AB, put forward ‘An Act to amend the Criminal Code (concealment of identity)’, in a private members bill. Bill C-309 proposes penalties of up to five years in prison or a fine of up to $5,000 for protesters who wear a mask or disguise. This will allow for the arrest of anyone wearing a mask at a protest, even if they are not said to have done anything else illegal.

Bill C 309, titled ‘Preventing Persons from Concealing Their Identity during Riots and Unlawful Assemblies Act’, was presented in a Committee Report on Feb 15, 2012. Having passed that, the Bill will now be read a second time and referred to the Standing Committee.

Read the entire bill. Its short!

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To keep up with the Waterloo Region/Kitchener Casseroles follow @CasserolesKW on Twitter and the Casseroles Night In K-W Facebook Page.

More on Bill C-309 the anti-Mask law: Of Masks and Freedom

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 🙂