blending an assortment of thoughts and experiences for my friends, relations and kindred spirit

blending an assortment of thoughts and experiences for my friends, relations and kindred spirit
By Alison Hobbs, blending a mixture of thoughts and experiences for friends, relations and kindred spirits.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Qui tacet consentit

I've just posted a comment on the Ottawa Citizen's article about yesterday's demonstration against bill C-51, saying "This is a government that seems to think the end justifies the means. It should think again." Unfortunately, many Canadians do not agree.

Chris and I were at the Ottawa protest, smaller than the equivalent events in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver. The weather didn't help to pull in the crowds here––it was wet and cold (below freezing) and the sidewalks were slippery, with wet snow piled up round the edges of buildings––but those who turned up were very serious about it, more worried about the implications of the proposed legislation than the risk of terrorist attacks in Canada.

The Ottawa gathering on the corner of Elgin Street and Wellington Street was "energised" (please excuse my British-English orthography) by various speakers before making its way to Parliament Hill. Hassan Yussuff, leader of the Canadian Labour Congress, was the first to energise us, coaching us to repeat ("All together!"):
Those who demonise 
truly terrorise!
He warned us of historic precedents, of the time when it was the Ukrainians who were treated with hate and suspicion in this country, interred in Fort Henry during the First World war, or when it was the Italians, the Japanese, the communists, the Quebeckers! "There's always an enemy..."

"Shame! Shame!" shouted the well rehearsed crowd.

"They'll throw us in prison too," he warned, "...intellectuals, environmentalists, all demonised!" and encouraged us to sing a song by Pete Seeger that nobody seemed to know, especially as the words were in German: Die Gedanken sind frei! (Thoughts are free.) "But thoughts are only free if we rise up and resist."

"So- so- solidarité!" shouted some of the crowd, in response.

"We must reject fear-mongering." (Chris and I applauded that one.)

Monia Mazigh addressing the crowd
Then Maher Arar's wife Monia Mazigh took the microphone and spoke very eloquently. Sad to say, she has had plenty of practice. She said, the notion this law will protect us is just an illusion. It will not. If this bill is passed, a journalist simply interviewing a suspect may be considered to be a terrorist himself. Any action of dissent can now be interpreted as threatening. This bill is about fear, and doesn't concern only Muslims.

Last month the Globe and Mail published an editorial denouncing the bill. If at all possible, it has to be stopped; many Canadians would agree, if they gave it some thought, but too many are apathetic or prone to complain that nothing they can do will make any difference.

Qui tacet consentit, one of the placards read.

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