Protests at Liberal Convention

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Left Turn Left Turn's picture
Protests at Liberal Convention

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Left Turn Left Turn's picture

There have been a number of protests over the three days of the Liberal convention in Vancouver, myself being an active participant in most of these.

On Thursday, ten of us from Stopwar held a lunchtime action against the war in Afghanistan, outside the Liberal Convention, at the new Vancouver Trade & Convention Centre. We held out our "Yes We Can Get Out Of Afghanistan!" banner, and handed out our leaflet criticizing Ignatieff on this issue. We had a minor success, as we were able to hand Ignatieff a copy of our leaflet. My understanding is that Ignatieff read the leaflet all the way up the escalator inside the convention centre. We received a number of positive comments from delegates, with the largest number of positive comments comming from the South Asian delegates. It is my impression that the Liberal Party is not fully united behind Iggy's move to push the party further to the right.

On Friday, the Vancouver and District Labour Council (VDLC) held a lunchtime rally against the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement, which Ignatieff supports. The protest was originally called by the La Chiva Latin America Collective, but after the VDLC endorsed the event, they became it's main organizers. I would estimate that about 200 people showed up to this spirited rally. Speakers at the rally included Bill Saunders (VDLC Chair), a woman from Colombia, one of the members of the La Chiva Collective, and NDP MP and Trade Critic Peter Julian. The rally highlited the human rights abuses in Colombia, the flagrant disregard by the Uribe government of the right to organize, and the killings of trade union organizers in Colobia (Colombia is the number one country for the murder of trade unionists, as 60% of trade unionists killed globally are Colombian).

There was also a small action aganist the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Deal, inside the convention. Vancouver activist Harsha Wallia was able to get into the convention, disrupt a plenary session of about 1,000 people, and address the crowd for about a minute. Some of the Delegates in the plenary even expressed agreement with Harsha. This is further evidence that the Liberal party is not fully united behind Ignatieff's push to move the party further to the right.

There was also an altercation between a female protester (I believe also Harsha, though I'm not entirely sure about this), and Jean Chretien.

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Chrétien's close call

Jean Chrétien was accosted by a female protester yesterday, who shouted he was a "war criminal," as he exited his black SUV in front of the convention centre. But Greg Crone came to the rescue. The quick-thinking communications aide to Ontario Economic Minister Michael Bryant, who is here as a volunteer, wrestled her out of Mr. Chrétien's way. "The SUV took off; Chrétien was safe," said Mr. Crone, who added he actually may have "saved the protester," jokingly referring to the 1996 incident when Mr. Chrétien grabbed protester Bill Clennett by the throat.

[url=http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/LAC.20090502.NOTEBOOK02OTTA... and a Liberation at Convention[/url]

On Saturday, six of us from Stopwar returned for another noon rally against Afghanistan. Again we held out the "Yes We Can Get Out Of Afghanistan" banner, and handed out our leaflet. The highlight of the action was when we spotted Jason Kenney (who attended the Liberal Convention as an observer). We moved our banner towards him, and shouted "Free Speech Yes! Jason Kenney No!". Jason Kenney fled the scene without comment.

Later in the day, after the 2pm BC-STV rally at the VAG, a slightly different four of us returned to the Vancouver Trade and Convention Centre grounds, in the hopes of being able to hound prominent Liberals exiting the convention centre after Ignatieff's coronation. There was an altercation between us as Paul Martin on his support for the overthrow of Aristide in Haiti, which due to it's nature I will not comment on further at this time (there may be a press release forthcoming from our side on it). We also confronted Bill Graham on the same issue, and he stonewalled by claiming that we had our facts wrong.

There was also a pot smoking rally (which began at the VAG prior to the BC-STV rally), which wound up outside the Liberal Convention at this time. One of the pot smoking advocates was dressed up in a giant cannabis leaf costume. We saw some Liberal delegates, with those plastic "Liberal" noisemakers, having photos and video taken with the guy. I'm not convinced they were aware of the nature of the costume. Good publicity for a cause that I support.

 

Unionist

Fantastic! Thank you for the thrilling report, and thank you and your colleagues for the activism!

 

Diogenes Diogenes's picture

Left Turn wrote:

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Uh, why is this a practice on Babble?

Lard Tunderin Jeezus Lard Tunderin Jeezus's picture

Many do this because the first post cannot be edited, whereas subsequent posts may be.

Frmrsldr

Very inspiring blog Left Turn!

Will you be attending the Walk to The Border Peace March on May 10 (Mothers' Day) in Osooyoos (Canada)/Oroville (U.S.A.)?

Left Turn Left Turn's picture

Sorry, no I won't be in Oysooyoos on Mothers Day, or anytime soon for that matter.

Left Turn Left Turn's picture

[url=http://vancouver.mediacoop.ca/story/1488]Hundreds say no to the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement[/url]

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On May 1st, more than 150 labour and grassroots solidarity activists mobilized outside the Liberal convention to reject the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement. Labour groups set up coffins to symbolize the deaths of Colombian union members under President Alvaró Uribe's watch.

Activists gave out more than 500 leaflets to delegates at the convention, demanding that the Liberals keep their campaign promise to withhold support for the FTA with Colombia.

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"Shame on the Liberals," said Micheál Ó Tuathail, a member of a Vancouver based Colombia solidarity group named La Chiva. "If they allow this deal to pass, it'll be even harder to tell them apart from the Conservatives."

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"We say no to a trade agreement with Colombia," said Peter Julian, the NDP's Foreign Affairs critic, who addressed the crowd in Vancouver. "We say no because the murder rate for human rights activists, labour activists, is going up, not down."

 

[url=http://www.rabble.ca/blogs/bloggers/rabble-staff/2009/05/rabble-gets-rou... gets roughed up at Liberal convention.

BY DERRICK O'KEEFE[/url]

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Following this exchange with Graham, I approached Paul Martin, who was Prime Minister when the coup took place. As I asked questions of Martin, I was aggressively bumped off by a man named Mario (according to the convention tag he was wearing).

I protested that I had the right to ask questions of Martin, and continued to attempt to do so. Again, Mario interseded aggresively, this time ripping my Flip video camera from my hand and smacking me in the face while he did so. Mario threw the camera to the ground, damaging the device (though I did manage to recover this image of Mario in action.)

After recovering the camera and its batteries, several colleagues and I followed Martin and his entourage into the Pan Pacific hotel, protesting this assault.

Since I was accredited media for the convention, I reported this incident to the Liberal Party's media desk. I spoke to Marc Roy, a Martin-era PMO spokesperson and party insider, who took my contact information and promised to get in touch with me promptly. Roy has not been in touch.