Michael Riordon

the view from where I live

Went to a protest today


Against what: A new federal bill, C-51, which smooths the road toward a police state in Canada. The bill is currently winding its way through Parliament.

C 51 protest

Photo: Canadian Press

After protests across the country and from many sources, the ruling Conservative regime has made a show of amending the bill.  Like paint slapped on a rotting house, the proposed changes will have minimal impact on the bill’s nightmarish potential.

So, today’s protest.

Where: At the Belleville constituency office of Daryl Kramp, the local Member of Parliament. He’s a Conservative, ie a Northern Republican, and he’s chairing the committee currently sliding the bill through Parliament. Kramp was absent from the Belleville office today, being rather busy in Ottawa.

Who: 40 – 50 people from the area who are alarmed enough by what they’ve learned about this bill to protest it in public. The rally was called on short notice, in response to the proposed ‘amendments.’

After a few decades protesting a panorama of injustices, bigotry, stupidity, greed, crimes against the earth, abuse of power, state terror and such, at today’s protest I experienced a familiar mix of reactions:

I believe it’s crucial to be here, to inform the powerful that some of us see through their lies, and care enough to resist their schemes to the extent that we can. On the other hand, knowing how power is constructed, I suspect our resistance is too little, too late. On the other hand, it’s crucial that we be here. On the other hand…

This mix, and the gradual shedding of illusions over years, eventually led me to stop going to protests like this one.  But then I was grateful that some people took the trouble to organize it, and that other people bothered to show up on a bright spring afternoon in the middle of a week. But then I know well enough that the real decisions are made far from here, in cabinet rooms and board rooms, by sociopaths in suits, over lunch.

Even so, how can I justify staying home in my comfortable, safe little cave, pretending that I accomplish anything that matters simply by writing?  And who knows what effect each of these acts of resistance might have?  The arrogant managers would have us believe they are oblivious to our protests, and nothing we do will make any difference.  But when they lie about practically everything else, why not about this, too?  Wouldn’t things be that much worse if we left them to their own devices?

It’s a dilemma.

What do you think?



Author: Michael Riordon

Canadian writer and documentary-maker Michael Riordon writes/ directs/produces books and articles, audio, video and film documentaries, plays for radio and stage. A primary goal of his work is to recover voices and stories of people who have been silenced or marginalized, written out of the official version: First Nations (aboriginal) youth, Mozambican farmers, inmates in Canadian prisons, traditional healers in Fiji, queer folk across Canada, Guatemalan labour activists. Michael also leads courses, workshops and seminars for community organizations, trade unions, schools, colleges and universities.

5 thoughts on “Went to a protest today

  1. ” Went to a Protest Today’s”: You are right Michael in that “it” is a dilemma. However, by being at the protest, writing about it and taking photos, you have created a record, a documentation and that is important, critical in fact. You have also made a statement, an act, a civil right that, if C-51 does pass, may be jeopardy for all of us. If only more of us were making such statements.


  2. My thoughts are this: I join protests against issues that threaten our security and well-being because to remain silent or inactive is seen as a vote for the status quo and that will never do. It’s empowering to share one’s concerns with a group of people who refuse to be silenced. You Michael are never silent. Your books and the profiles of activists around the world are a constant source of inspiration.


  3. Pingback: Panic in the Palace | Bold Scientists

  4. Things would definitely be worse if we left them to their own devices, as you say Michael. But I also understand the dilemma. Where do we put our energies and what will actually alter the course?
    We’re going to need revolutionary change, I believe. We need to focus on not only challenging current systems, but dismantling them and building new ones. Part of that involves creating solidarity among people, and that happens through shared struggle and common cause – the kind we find at protests. So there is perhaps more than the obvious reason for protests.
    Another crucial element in the fight for a better world is sharing ideas and inspiration. Your writing, of course, does both.


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