Volume 95, Issue 26

Thursday, October 18, 2001
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Editorial Board 2001-2002

Protest in peace

Editorial Cartoon

Protest in peace

Has the anti-globalization movement really died?

Probably not.

Just like other non-terrorism news, coverage of the movement has simply been pushed to the back burner.

Regardless, a loose coalition of 80 social justice groups – all sharing a common disdain for the Harris government – staged a protest on Tuesday that turned violent, leading to considerable damage to the downtown Toronto core.

Despite this recent protest, some leftist groups, especially the anti-globalization movement, may be searching for a "proper," more appropriate way of protesting in an era where moderate dissent can potentially turn someone into an enemy of the state.

As we are currently witnessing, people tend to rally behind their nation and their leaders during war, while those in opposition quickly become silenced.

Nothing unites people quite like a common enemy.

For example, it's no coincidence U.S. President Bush's popularity ratings have soared well into the 90s in the past few weeks. As a president, he has not become any smarter, rather he has risen to the occasion dutifully.

Therefore, as a response to what is happening in the world, movements like anti-globalization should add to their agendas a message of peace. Still, they must remember that if the concept of peace is more than just rhetoric, organizers must ensure protesters act like it.

Clearly not all protesters hurl bricks, but the problem lies in the organizers' failure to openly condemn violence and, in turn, distance themselves from the violent minority.

The anti-globalization movement will likely return for the next major international meeting, set to take place in Kananaskis, Alberta. If their 'peace' message is to be taken seriously, they had better distance themselves from the few who choose to protest violently.

One of Tuesday's most outspoken coalition members, the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty, aimed to block access to Toronto's financial heart: Bay Street.

An ironic strategy – block access to people's workplace in order to antagonize the very people whose support you need in order to succeed. But assuming one of the goals of the recent protest in Toronto was to acquire media attention – a formidable task for any story not related to anthrax or terrorism – success was achieved.

Flashy pictures of police breaking up protests are sure to increase awareness of OCAP, but the extra coverage likely came at the cost of public, police and Bay Street big-wig support.

Conducting a valid, peaceful protest seems to have the characteristics of a double-edged sword these days – in order for anyone to notice, the validity of the word 'peace' must be sacrificed.

The anti-globalization movement is far from dead. But if it seeks to accomplish anything in the future, it must adapt and improve.

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