Sunday, January 27, 2013

Walking: The Right Thing To Do.

Toronto is the capital of the province of Ontario here in Canada.Toronto is a wonderful city to visit. It has Greek town and China town, it has theatre, museums and music. It has the CN Tower and is a great place to take in major league sports. It is also the seat of the Ontario provincial government. It is thus that I had democracy on my mind when I travelled to Toronto on Saturday to walk.
Buses on Jarvis street....only two out of hundreds.
We clambered off our buses, rows and rows of them lined Jarvis street. Immediately we caught sight of huge numbers of people making their way to Allan Gardens, a park where we were to congregate before starting our march for democratic rights.
My husband Steve flying his union banner.
The cause? Mainly that the Liberal government had stripped teachers, union members, of their right to collective bargaining. For the past few months teachers have participated in rotating strikes. Their lives and the lives of millions of children have been disrupted and uncertain.

Education is a right and in Canada we are fortunate to enjoy that right so when the government ups and unilaterally changes the rules that pertain to these rights, we the people get angry. And when we get anyone who follows this blog knows.....we walk.

The call to march came as union leaders took the stage. Flags billowed above our heads and placards bobbed up and down with our chants. We stamped and danced with the drums and whistles. It wasn't long before the cold started clawing at my toes so I stamped and danced harder.

Me walking.
Numerous organizations handed out hats from the backs of trucks, scarves from boxes on picnic tables, tickets for free coffee and hot chocolate and the socialist papers, hawked at every corner. We were organized and ready. Full of adrenaline, we moved.
Media and their camera's weaved in and out of the crowd. We followed the sounds of the drums. I looked up to follow the sound of a helicopter as it hovered, surveying us; a giant snake of people winding through the streets of Toronto.

We walked in groups but together in solidarity for not only teacher's rights but Aboriginal rights, women's rights, worker's rights, poverty, children and democratic rights.

We passed mounted police on horses and bicycles. We passed curious onlookers and we passed Liberal delegates who ran frantically for refuge as our wall of people descended on Maple Leaf Gardens, our destination which was the site of the Liberal leadership convention.
A line of police on bicycles watching our progress.
Closing in on them one delegate offered to pinch my butt. I offered to report him to the police woman who was standing in front of us. Another delegate elbowed me as he threw out expletives, demanding we (insert expletive here) off and leave him alone. I understood his frustration, but I didn't understand the blow to my arm as I was simply standing in silence holding my placard high above my head, the same placard that a minute later prompted a warning from another police woman ( I love that there were so many female law enforcers present!) to not poke her with it.
Can you spot the elephant in the room?!

There were close to 30,000 of us. As we closed in on our destination I found myself pushed up against the barricades that divided the rights of the Liberals to pass safely and the rights of we the people to protest safely. Police carefully monitored the border. A man fraught with dispassionate anger screamed at the police and swore at the elderly and incapacitated delegates simply because they were Liberal. He finally collapsed into convulsions that just so happened to block the path in front of the barricade.
It was rough, but at the end of the day there were no reports of serious injury (physical) or of any arrests.
Three hours of walking, of cold fresh air and of spirited energies made our walk back to the buses as happy one. We came, we walked, we made our point.

Walking. Sometimes it is the thing to do when we are angry, confused or sad. Sometimes it is what we do to find the simple beauty in life.

Sometimes, it is simply the right thing to do.

For more on the protest follow the link.

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