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Volume 91, Issue 17
Thursday, September 25, 1997
Small beach rally, big supporters
Third-year political science/French student Vanessa Jubenot is draped in spirit at the rally.
By Sara Marett
As a small crowd began to gather last night on the Concrete Beach for the "I Am Canadian" rally, its organizer Dave Palumbo hung a Canadian flag over Jacques Parizeau's name on the University Community Centre's event sign.
Falling significantly short of organizers' goal to attract 1,000 supporters, approximately 100 people attended the rally to show their support for a united Canada and express their thoughts on the views of politician Jacques Parizeau.
In an earlier interview with Parizeau, he said he has organized too many meetings of protest to have reproach for any group organizing a rally. "On the contrary! As far as I can see these people are proud to be Canadians and they want to tell everyone that they are. By God let them do that!"
And they certainly tried. Participants waved flags and wore stickers announcing their patriotism. As the national anthem was sung, red and white streamers cascaded from the UCC balcony. Organizers of the event encouraged listeners to fight for Canada's unity.
"Many of you standing around here will be the future leaders of this country. We must pledge to ourselves to work until we have a deal to keep this country together," said Michael Rubinoff, federal affairs commissioner for the University Students' Council. "I encourage all Canadians to continue to learn about each other as I think this country is worth keeping together."
Ray Novak, a second-year political science student and director-at-large for Western's Reform club, stood draped in a Canadian flag as he addressed the audience. "When I watched the 1995 referendum on TV I felt guilty for not doing enough to keep the country together. I vowed to myself then I would do more and I think we should all promise to do so," he said.
"When I look out onto this crowd I can see a little bit more than money and the ethnic vote," said social science student Steve Polak. "I am not going to show any respect for or listen to a man who lied to the people of Quebec and acted only for his own selfish means."
However, Novak said he would attend Parizeau's lecture to hear his viewpoint. "The best way to counter the separatist view is to understand it," he said.
Bob Klanac, manager of marketing and services for the USC and organizer of Parizeau's visit, said he thought there would be more people attending the rally, but that it was a positive event.
"What did disturb me, however, was a speaker who encouraged the crowd not to listen to or respect Parizeau, which is an implicit attack on his freedom of speech," he said.
Student organizer Nawaz Tahir said he was impressed with the numbers considering the time constraint they were under to organize the rally.
Victoria Soo, a first-year science student attended the rally and said it was a good step towards a unified Canada. "I am in favour of a distinct society for Quebec while treating all the provinces equally," she said.
YOU CAN NEVER HAVE TOO MUCH PATRIOTISM. Third-year history/political science student Rob Walker hands out flags at the "I Am Canadian" rally yesterday on the Concrete Beach.
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Copyright © The Gazette 1997