Take the Capital: demonstrating against G8

I can feel it: Increasing fear is palpable in Ottawa. As I head into our capital, people are talking about how apprehensive they are.

These are people like you and me. They are government workers, grocery store workers, writers, and receptionists. They are elderly parents, young parents with infants. People in our capital city.

Shopkeepers are closing their stores in anticipation of what might be a violent two-day demonstration on June 26 and 27 in Ottawa. Several storekeepers have decided to board up their windows.

And for the very first time in history the windows of Parliament Hill might also be boarded up.

Why is this happening in Canada? It’s all because “Take the Capital: Actions Against the G8” is coming to town. Even the title is designed to be aggressive and confrontational. It suits the organizers’ agenda, deliberately.

Go to www.takethecapital.net/ website to discover the politics of today’s world of “actions” – what used to be termed “demonstrations.” There, you’ll find a series of links; a table of contents that explain what the two-day “action” is all about.

Briefly, the G8 meeting of elected leaders in Kananaskis, Alberta has engendered solidarity amid a fraternity of alternative thinkers, anarchists and freedom fighters in Canada, the US and throughout the world. The agenda, in their words, is to oppose what they term the “executive board of global capitalism” and what they think is the current political order of oppression and terror.

The call to action also opposes Bush’s War on Terrorism, mocks Chretien’s pledge of financial aid to Africa, and opposes NAFTA. The website further announces us that, “revolutionary epochs are periods where tyrannical institutions lose their legitimacy. They are eras of convergence, when apparently separate processes collect to form a socially explosive crisis. They are moments when hope is ignited… the hope that everything can be transformed…”

On the site’s table of contents you can search a link called “propagande.html”. So I did. Here I discovered two supposedly inspirational limericks (found at www.takethecapital.net/limericks.html).

Solidarity limerick with the actions in Alberta:

In Alberta disrupt the G8,
No money, no borders, no hate,
This system’s gone sour,
We’ll take back the power,
Let’s riseup and smash the state

Limerick to action in Ottawa:

Against the peoples’ will,
The system is making us ill,
Politicians are lyin’
So with black flags flyin’
We’ll go storm parliament hill!

Also on this site, at www.takethecapital.net/26actionseng.html you can find out about the actions that demonstrators can participate in today, June 26 and tomorrow, June 27.

June 26 Snake March

“On June 26, the executive board of global capitalism retreats to the foothills of Alberta for their first day of photo ops and pre-determined meetings. On the same day, activists from across Ontario, Quebec, the Maritimes and the Northeastern United States will converge in Ottawa for the first of two days of protests known as the Take the Capital! Actions Against the G8.

“Called in clear opposition to the G8, in solidarity with protests in Alberta and with resistance to capitalism and imperialism world-wide, the two days of protest in Ottawa will target the many manifestations of political and economic power of Canada’s national capital — the year-round administrative home of the G8 in this country. Both days of protest are being organized on the basis of a respect for a diversity of tactics, meaning that a multiplicity of forms of resistance will be welcomed in a context of mutual solidarity and respect for all participants.

“The first day of protest on June 26 will be focused on direct actions and civil disobedience. We are calling on affinity groups to plan and carry out a wide and imaginative range of autonomous actions targeting the many symbols of capitalism and imperialism in Ottawa. A Radical Tourist’s Guide to the city has already been sent out for your planning convenience.”

Of course, I immediately navigated to the Radical Guide, where I found many corporations listed, from Monsanto through to Nortel. Each company address is listed: e.g., “Monsanto 130 Albert. St. Monsanto, now owned by Pharmacia, genetically engineers herbicide resistant crops for use with their brand name weed killers. Thanks to them canola is now next to impossible to grow in non-GE form on the prairies. They own most of patented GE foods on the Health Canada approved list. They are in good with Health Canada, despite internal criticism and public opposition.”

After reading this, I continued searching, delving next into the organizers’ credo, which includes this statement, and advocating “A confrontational attitude, since we do not think that lobbying can have a major impact in such biased and undemocratic organisations, in which transnational capital is the only real policy-maker.”

Where do I stand on this call to action? I cannot promote or agree to violence. I cannot and will not advocate actions that promote the violation of people’s homes and businesses. I cannot put my faith in unknown authors who are afraid to sign their names to the opinions they promote.

Last week I wrote on CanWest Global’s firing of Russell Mills, publisher of The Ottawa Citizen. The firing won ongoing national attention not only because the editorials for which he was fired advocated the resignation of our Prime Minister. It became an action worthy of debate because of the increasingly alarming concentration and cross-media ownership of newspapers, magazines, television and radio by fewer and fewer “media corporations.”

But here we have a call to action by a website whose writers don’t even have the gumption to give us their names. Who are these writers? Paranoid people who work amid our communities who are afraid to speak up? One of the website links is, “Police surveillance” whereby there is a list published detailing how frequently the RCMP is reportedly checking their website.

Why be anonymous? Come forward, state your opinions with forthrightness and honesty. I strongly believe that many Canadians want change. But for my part I want to know whom I’m dealing with and I want to know what they personally stand for.

In our Canadian democracy, we expect honest debate. Hiding behind anonimity is hardly the way to create an open forum for free and open discussion. Not to mention political change.

Or so I think. What do you think?

Want to check out more commentary on the web? After I hit the “Links” button, I found this site www.geocities.com/ericsquire/g8ottawa.htm#history that quotes many editorials printed in The Ottawa Citizen and Ottawa Sun.

Meanwhile, someone in Calgary e-mailed last week to say that as he returned from his weekly hike in the Kananaskis mountains, he discovered an armed “sentry” was guarding the trailhead.

We’ve got to find a better path for change.


Katharine Fletcher is a freelance writer.