Tuesday, January 19, 2010

As the Olympic Flame made its way across western Canada in the past two weeks it was met by demonstrations in four prairie cities. The stories of each stop are given below, three from the No2010 website and a fourth from the Regina Leader Post. A few commonalities can be seen. One, the obvious, is that they are all about demonstrations against the upcoming Olympic circus. Another is that all the demonstrations were peaceful. What is most striking, however, is that the demonstrations attracted hardly any mainstream media reportage. This may have been because they were indeed peaceful and therefore "not entertaining". It may also be because they just weren't weird enough. The press seemed to have no hesitation about reporting all of the antics of PETA in each and every stop. PETA, of course, provides the necessary daily dose of weird in a daily newspaper. Something about "seals and the Olympics" I think, however they may connect. Here in Winnipeg the PETA circus was duly reported. The other demo attracted no notice in the Winnipeg Free Press, while the Winnipeg Sun reported that "another demonstration also took place, but nobody was sure what they were demonstrating about". I kid you not. The demonstrations in Regina and Saskatoon attracted the attention of the Regina Leader Post (but not, insofar as I am able to determine the Saskatoon Star Phoenix), and even there the PETA clowns were given more prominence.

So here, as a public service, are the three stories that have only been reported on the No2010 site and in a few internet forums, and the other Regina story that hasn't shown up in such forums.
Winnipeg: Olympic Torch Protested & Briefly Delayed:
January 7, 2010 - 09:04 — no2010
January 5 - The Olympic torch relay was successfully disrupted in Winnipeg this evening. The torch and parade were blockaded for fifteen minutes, after which time the relay was forced to extinguish the torch, and the torch and relay team were transported forward in a truck.

The demonstration began when approximately 50 people assembled at the Forks and handed out literature to people attending the torch event.

The demonstration marched from the Forks down Broadway on the sidewalk, and then on the boulevard, to meet the torch relay from the opposite direction, posting "No Olympics on Stolen Native Land" stickers along the way.

Five people were dressed as Olympic rings and carried torches that were lit as the demonstration approached the official Olympic torchbearer.

Each ring represented an issue associated with the Olympics: Homelessness and the criminalization of the poor, massive police spending and the criminalization of dissent, environmental destruction, missing and murdered women, and the theft of native land.

When the demonstration reached the torchbearer, protesters took the street and blockaded the torch parade for fifteen minutes, chanting slogans and distributing leaflets.

The torch was extinguished and transported forward in a truck. Demonstrators were pushed out of the street by the Winnipeg Police Service.
Saskatoon Protests Olympic Torch Relay:
January 14, 2010 - 01:48 — no2010
Protesters peaceful at rally
By Jeremy Warren, Saskatchewan News Network, January 12, 2010
While thousands of supporters at Kiwanis park waved flags and chanted encouragement for the 2010 Olympics, a small group of protesters had their slogans and flags that denounced the Olympic industry.

About 30 protesters, part of a national movement demonstrating against the Vancouver 2010 Olympics, took their grievances to Saskatoon's Olympic torch relay event Monday.

"True Sport or Corporate Opportunism?" read one protester's sign.

Homelessness in Vancouver has worsened since the city's successful bid, which lead to the elimination of low income housing, and there's been much ecological destruction from construction and renovation of Olympic sites in B.C., said demonstration organizer Ashley Budd.
The corporations -- from Coca-Cola to Royal Bank of Canada, both of which had significant presence at Monday's event with company giveaways and booths -- are using the games to push product, not sport, said Budd.

"They're influencing these kids," said Budd, a University of Saskatchewan student. "This isn't an education. It's a corporate takeover."

Event organizers bused in more than 1,000 students to Kiwanis Park to watch the torch relay and lighting of the Olympic cauldron. Attendance was between 5,000 and 7,000 people, said organizers.

Spectators were handed free bottles of Coke products and flags and RBC tambourines.
Commercials played on a large screen above the performance stage. The entertainment MC spliced in corporate slogans in chants to rouse the crowd.

"Are you happy?" said the MC, to cheers from the crowd. "I can't hear you! Are you happy?"

The crowd cheered again. Then the MC revealed the Happiness is sponsored by Coca-Cola.
"Are you ready to open happiness, Saskatoon?" Then the Coca-Cola-sponsored performers took the stage.

The crowd was urged to cheer to "create a better Canada," (perhaps one without Coco-Cola-Molly ) to which again the crowd responded with cheers.

"Are you ready to create a better Canada? Let's do with RBC," said the MC. ( it obviously got stranger and stranger as the night wore on-Molly )

Saskatoon Olympic Torch Relay Organizing Committee chair Jill Cope said corporate sponsorship is necessary for the event.

"Putting on a torch run of this magnitude, you certainly need corporate sponsorship," said Cope. "(The advertising) wasn't blatant. (cough, cough-Molly ) I think the kids, and adults too, had fun."

While demonstrations disrupted torch relays elsewhere in Canada, the demonstrators in Saskatoon were peaceful. They drummed and stood silently and burned sage. When approached, they answered questions or distributed leaflets.

"We're not trying to stop the Olympics," said Budd. "We're trying to bring education to the Games."
Edmonton Protests Olympic Torch & Tar Sands:
January 15, 2010 - 21:57 — no2010

No Torch, No Tar sands
Edmontonians stand up against capitalism
by Dawn Paley
EDMONTON-- Dozens of people protested the official Olympics ceremony in downtown Edmonton this evening, an island of resistance in a sea of people out to see the big show.

Those standing together against the torch drew attention to social and environmental issues that they argue are exacerbated by the Olympics.

"Capitalism just makes me feel gross," said Megan Heather, who was leafletting in the crowd gathered at Churchill Square. "It's sort of at the backbone of what is really fucking humans up," she said. (I'm sorry to criticize my "own side", but I just have to cringe at this sort of thing-Molly )

Activsts chanted slogans including "Homes not Games," and "No Olympics on Stolen Native Land."

They also drew a clear link between the tar sands and the 2010 Olympics, but the connection wasn't clear to bystanders.

"Most Edmontonians don't agree with it, they know where the bread and butter comes from," said Ed Dykstra, referring to a banner reading "No tar sands, No Olympics on Native Land."

As for why activists would be concerned about the tar sands, Dykstra also had no idea. "The tar sands is a very minuscule part of the greenhouse gas problem," he said. "As far as mining the ground is concerned, there is nothing growing there in the first place."

"The greenest games that are supposed to be carbon neutral are heavily sponsored by the companies active in the tar sands, the fastest growing contributor to climate change," said Macdonald Sainsby, who also organizes an an annual conference about the tar sands. This year's conference will focus on the Olympics as well as the tar sands.

Three people were handcuffed and detained on the torch route for allegedly swearing at the torch. They were later released without charge.

Audio from yesterday's actions in Edmonton:
Finally, here's the article from the Regina Leader Post about the demonstration in Regina, the one not reported by the No2010 people. Once more, like in Winnipeg, the PETA people get prominence, or in this case equal play. All this for the sake of three paid staffers for the donation sponge that is PETA who travel from town to town following the Olympic Torch. I'd rather not get diverted into a full fledged attack on these people, but I would suggest that they are the lefty equivalent of tele-evangelists, and I'd suggest that nobody give them a penny.
Reginans stage protests before arrival of Olympic torch:
By Josh Campbell, Leader-Post
January 7, 2010
REGINA — Not all Reginans want to hold the Olympic torch high this Saturday evening as it makes its way through the city.

Some would rather not see it at all.

Mere blocks apart in downtown Regina on Wednesday, two rallies took place, organized (by-Molly )groups that support the Olympics as a friendly international competition between athletes, but not as a means for corporations and countries to wash their hands of "dirty oil" and seal blood.

The first rally, outside the downtown Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) building, was spearheaded by the Council of Canadians (COC). It questioned RBC's sponsorship of the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, saying this is a "greenwashing" tactic to get the public to believe the bank is environmentally friendly.

"They want to make themselves look better than they really are," said Jim Elliott, head of COC's Regina chapter.

A pamphlet COC distributed Wednesday read: "RBC is providing $15.9 billion in funding to coal and oil companies, including the tar sands. The 'make a pledge, carry the torch' campaign allows RBC to use the 2010 Games to market itself as a 'green' corporation and support tar sands development at the same time."

RBC representatives were contacted, but had not responded by late Wednesday afternoon.

Meanwhile, at the corner of Scarth Street and Victoria Avenue, a giant inflatable seal was providing shelter to three shivering protesters.

One was Norfolk, Virginia, native David Shirk, a full-time employee with PETA (People for Ethical Treatment of Animals). Shirk is travelling ahead of the torch and carrying his 10-foot-high inflatable seal with him to raise awareness about the annual seal hunt off the coast of Newfoundland and P.E.I.

Of the estimated 5.6 million seals off the coast of Atlantic Canada, the government allowed 280,000 to be hunted in the 2009.

According to Shirk, only three per cent of the overall seal kill is for Aboriginals. The rest is done by large corporations.( Love those "large Newfie corporations"-Molly )

"Just as China had a bad human rights record, so, too, should Canada be under scrutiny for the amount of seals they allow to be hunted," said Shirk. "I am horrified that people are still allowed to club baby seals over the head."

Shirk's belief in the cause has enabled him to handle the Canadian cold. "It's pretty cold up here," he said, "but it's nothing like getting skinned alive like baby seals do."

1 comment:

Werner said...

In the same way that marxism in practice leaves a sour taste in many mouths about everything left wing exposure to PETA makes a person want to go out and eat a big fat greaseburger just for the hell of it! Bored rich kids trying to fill the emptiness of their lives while trying to look down their noses at ordinary people who are too busy trying to survive. (And some of those people finally get to the point where they ask "why bother"?)There seems to be a hierarchy of oppression where leftists are concerned. If an issue is far away enough, and/or generally weird then it gets moved to the front burner right away. Individual shit especially when it involves people who are not politically photogenic never makes it on the radar. For the little matchgirl anarchism is just another potroast in someone else's kitchen.