The Role of ‘Influence’ in Democracy
by Koozma J. Tarasoff. July 15, 2010
Submitted to The Ottawa Citizen
What is the legitimacy of dissenting views in a real democracy? Surely it is more than voting and electing candidates to represent us with a majority vote of 51%. At a deeper level, it has something to do with giving voice to the people on issues such as justice, equality, jobs, housing, good health, and peace.
In early June, 2010 Canada received a failing grade in democracy during the G8 and G20 Summit forums of world leaders held in Ontario. More than $1 billion was spent on ‘security’. Some 13,000 police and a high perimeter wire fence were employed to keep out the public — among them upwards to 30,000 citizens marching peacefully in the rain seeking a public voice in the proceedings. The police arrested 900 innocent bystanders who happened to be too close to the fence or looked suspicious.
At the same time some 50 self-styled Black Bloc masked hooded people took front stage. By their actions, these people burnt four police cars, broke street windows and kept their heads covered from the public. They were not peaceful demonstrators, but were out to hijack the peaceful event. Of course, the media followed the actions of a few people at the expense of the large group. In the end, the public got the false impression that mass dissent was wrong.
Just before the Summit, a CBC TV crew interviewed one of the hooded representatives who publicly stated that the group was out to disrupt the meetings. From this source at least, the police had information that these Hoods were going to do harm. So what happened? Why did the police not stop these criminal acts and protect the peaceful marchers? Did they need more than 13,000 members to arrest 50 masked criminals? Or was this Black Bloc of hooded people actually helpers of the police in doing crowd control?
During the North American leaders summit in Montebello, Quebec in 2007, the public was shocked to learn that union leaders exposed three Quebec provincial police officers who had disguised themselves as demonstrators and were attempting to provoke the crowd and instigate violence. That was fact, not Hollywood fiction!
We also know that back on July 1, 1935, the western Canadian trek to Ottawa was forcefully stopped in Regina, Saskatchewan, by the naked power of the police on a plan concocted by the then Prime Minister of Canada R. B. Bennett. The Prime Minister did not want to see in Ottawa Canadian citizens with peaceful voices seeking redress to poverty and unemployment during the Depression. This sounds like dictatorship had hijacked Parliament.
Shortly before the 2010 meetings in Canada, Canada’s Security Chief Richard Fadden embarrassed Canadians by publicly charging that some of its politicians in western Canada were accepting ‘influence’ from foreign governments. When asked which governments, he hinted China (Did he forget to mention USA?). He said this out loud. To me and other Canadian citizens, this ‘official statement’ on TV sounded like an attack on the core values of diplomacy and democracy.
The Declaration of Mr. Fadden creeps out like paranoia from the Cold War era. If he wanted to impress the Canadian public of his presence, he succeeded. Maybe Mr. Fadden was campaigning for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service to get more money to chase spies around the world?
Diplomatic institutions and civic friendship societies are designed to build bridges of understanding across international boundaries. Since 1989 the world has become more open for exchanges between countries East and West, North and South. Especially with the help of our recent communications revolution, cultural and economic exchanges should work to enrich society. Friendship is a noble idea worth preserving and expanding. To ignore this trend is to be out of step in a global world where we are all our brothers and sisters keepers.
Generally, shared ‘influence’ in our world helps build healthier democratic institutions. At the G8 and G20 meetings, it would have been worthwhile for Canada to provide ‘an alternative’ venue for ordinary citizens to have their say in the affairs that affect their livelihood and that of the world. A building beside the main Summit meeting could have provided a public voice to important topics such as free health care and education, adequate housing and jobs for all, a clean environment, and a new policy of peaceful collaborative influence in the world.
Here in Toronto was a missed opportunity to strengthen the spirit of democracy. Between citizens and their leaders there was a huge wall — an eyesore — along with an overkill-core of armed police hired to stamp out dissent. But protest is a legitimate and proper form of expression in our society, is it not? Public dissent is an integral part of the democratic process.
Let’s not forget that legitimate public dissent and protest has brought genuine reform to our civilization. The world famous writer Lev N. Tolstoy helped abolish serfdom in Russia in 1861. In India, Mahatma Gandhi helped his country gain independence from Britain. In the USA, Martin Luther King Jr. led the American blacks to win their civil rights. Moreover, workers around the world including Canada would not have won pensions, paid vacations and safe working conditions without strikes and public debate. And voting amongst various sectors of society (women, ethnic and racial groups, etc.) would not have happened without a public outcry for progressive ideas, even if they came from foreign governments.
Bravo to shared ‘influence’ in our modern world!
‘Koozma, this reads very well. I hope The Citizen publishes it.’
Bill. Ottawa, Ontario. July 16, 2010.
‘Thank you for sharing your article. But more so for expressing your views openly for equality, justice peace and goodwill.’
Peter. Vancouver, British Columbia. July 17, 2010.
‘Well written article Koozma, hope it gets wide exposure. The role of the provocateurs needs wider exposure, I believe they were RCMP, or maybe other government agents. Now the police say they are looking for them. I thought they were all arrested?’
Larry. Castlegar, British Columbia. July 17, 2010.
‘Thanks for sharing this interesting and informative speech. It made connections to world pacifists I didn't know existed.’
Carl. Langley, British Columbia. July 17, 2010.
‘Thanks for sharing this provocative piece. I especially like your idea regarding the provision of an alternative site for "the people" to express their views during the the recent Summits in Toronto. I expect that this would have changed the "street dynamics" in the city, although there will always be hooligans at such events.’
Allan. Penticton, British Columbia. July 19, 2010.
‘Very powerful. I keep wondering if Prime Minister Harper ever does anything without first checking with the Americans.’
Alex. Creston, British Columbia. July 19, 2010.
‘Belated thanks for your article on democracy....Your point is well-taken
although I believe that the public-at-large seems to tacitly approve that
after 9/11 "giving voice to the people on issues such as justice, equality, jobs,
housing, good health, and peace" must take second place to what I consider
to be a paranoid sense of security. The more important are constant
reminders by people like you that the slow erosion of democracy is a very
Gunter, Victoria, British Columbia. August 1, 2010.
Barry Zwicker, author, publisher, TV personality and Social Activist, wrote an expose of the Canadian government and the police brutal action taken against the protesters at the G20 meeting. 'G20 Could Be a Millstone for Harper Government Because of False Flag Operations and Over-Reach,' Northstar Compass, vol. 19, #6-7, July-August 2010: 3-6.
Barry points out that there is a ‘groundswell’ of over 60,000 people demanding a full public inquiry. This refers to a Facebook page by a group called ‘Canadians Demanding a Public Inquiry into Toronto G20’. Barry is author of Towers of Deception: The Media Cover-Up of 9/11 and the forthcoming False Flag Operations: History’s Deadliest Deceits and Why They Matter.