Friday, November 24, 2006

Stephen Harper Confronted in Montreal

The following about an action in Montreal earlier today...

MONTREAL, NOV 24 2006. -- Over twenty people held a demonstration this morning to disrupt a press conference given by Stephen Harper at the Montreal General Hospital, in front of a hand-picked audience of young Conservatives from McGill University. Despite heavy RCMP and Montreal police presence, demonstrators we able to let themselves in to the room where Stephen Harper was speaking, before being kicked out by security.

One member of Block the Empire, Jaggi Singh, was arrested as he sat in the conference oom waiting for Harper's talk to begin. Members of BLEM asserted that it was a public talk and they had the right to be there, despite the security guards telling them the event as 'invitation only'. As members of BLEM were aggressively removed from the room by police, one member of BLEM was sexually harassed by a cop, who said "we should go out for a beer some time", as he pushed her back repeatedly.

To view pictures of the action, click here:

Our message to Stephen Harper: you're not welcome in Montreal (or anywhere else for that matter). Everywhere you go, you will be confronted.

Below is a copy of the flyer that was handed out at the demonstration.

(This demonstration was organized by Block the Empire Montreal and No One Is Illegal Montreal. For more information, please contact or


Friday, November 24, 2006 -- Canadian Prime Minister Steven Harper is sneaking into Montreal today -- a city where his party has little to no support or respect -- for a scripted public relations event at the Montreal General Hospital, stacked with eager young Conservatives from McGill.

We're here to disrupt Prime Minister Harper and to expose his far right-wing agenda. Real democracy means getting in the face of decision-makers, not sitting politely while we're fed empty sound bites and stage-managed photo ops while surrounded by cops and security guards.

Why are we here? Here are just some of the reasons:

Canada out of Kandahar, Bush out of Baghdad!

Steven Harper is an ideological soul mate of George Bush, and an unabashed defender of Bush's disastrous "war on terror". Canadian troops are currently in Afghanistan to allow more US troops to occupy and kill in Iraq. Bush and Harper have put forward a false choice between supporting Western soldiers or the Taliban, and would have us
believe that their brand of Christian corporate free-market fundamentalism is supposed to be the basis for the liberation of average Afghanis.

The killing of civilians is not "justified and measured"

This summer, when the Israeli Defence Forces brutally attacked civilians and the infrastructure of Lebanon, in acts widely recognized as war crimes, Steven Harper expressed his unconditional support for Israel. Even after an entire Montreal-based family were massacred in their home in southern Lebanon, Harper continued to describe the Israeli invasion as "justified and measured". The Harper government has
also continued to side with the continued Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories. The anger that brought us out in large numbers on the streets of Montreal this past summer to denounce Steven Harper's complicity in war crimes brings us to confront him personally today.

Extinguishing indigenous sovereignty
One of Steven Harper's closest advisors, and ideological mentors, is Calgary neo-conservative professor Tom Flanagan. Regarding the rights of indigenous peoples, Flanagan has written the following: "Europeans are, in effect, a new immigrant wave, taking control of land just as earlier aboriginal settlers did. To differentiate the rights of earlier and later immigrants is a form of racism."

Equating indigenous persons as "immigrants" is tantamount to extinguishing indigenous rights. The Harper Conservatives stand for assimilation; in the context of continued self-determination struggles at Six Nations, Sun Peaks, Grassy Narrows and elsewhere, the Harper Conservative position is tantamount to continued genocide.

The National Insecurity Agenda

Not surprisingly, the Conservatives have entrenched the previous Liberal government's national insecurity agenda, promoting fear and paranoia, and using the "war on terror" to justify more repressive police and security measures. Public Security Minister Stockwell Day intends to arm border guards, while Steven Harper self-servingly pronounces on the guilt of suspects in Toronto. The Harper Conservatives create fear to justify their own "law and order" agenda.

Continued Deportations and Detentions
Under Immigration Minister Monte Solberg and Stockwell Day -- who is responsible for the Canadian Border Services Agency -- the Harper government has accelerated the policy of deportation and detention, entering homes, workplaces, shopping malls, subway stations and even schools to detain migrants.

Under the current Conservative government, CBSA officials have entered primary and secondary schools in Toronto on at least two occasions to detain children. In Montreal, deportation agents have raided carwashes to detain workers, as well as entering buses to check IDs and detain individuals. The net effect has been to create fear within immigrant communities.

Harper Homophobia

The Harper government has decided to re-open the same-sex marriage debate, in a blatant attempt to mimic the US neo-conservative tactic of provoking homophobia to win votes. Re-opening this settled debate also serves to ignore the substantive issues -- such as health care, youth homelessness, etc. -- that effect the wider queer community.

Environmental Degradation
In a clear attempt to appease the oil and gas industry, the Harper government remains in denial about global warming, and continues to promote ecologically destructive policies.

Cutbacks to Social Funding
The Harper Conservatives -- under the leadership of former Mike Harris thug and now Finance Minister Jim Flaherty -- have deepened Liberal cutbacks to social programs, undermining services to women, the poor, immigrants, indigenous peoples and queers.

We're here today as members of diverse anti-war, anti-poverty, anti-oppression and social justice groups in Montreal.

Steven Harper and his crew of right-wing men Stockwell Day, Monte Solberg, Vic Toews, Michel Fortier, Jim Prentice, Jim Flaherty, Tom Flanagan and others need to understand that they will not pass through Montreal without a confrontation and disruption.

This action is organized and supported by Block the Empire-Montreal, No One Is Illegal-Montreal as well as other groups and individuals. --

1 comment:

  1. Oh dear, I feel like you have perhaps gone over the edge with the venom that is expressed here. I see that the "Block the Empire" group is anti-Afghanistan (maybe other things also, but that's what I found). Afghanistan is a very difficult situation, but given that Canada has been asked to stay by a democratically elected government -- it simply is not a clear-cut situation. Leaving at this point would create serious problems. And I have recently heard that there is good progress being made. That does not mean that we should not leave, but it does mean that the situation is NOT black and white . . . and therefore it is inappropriate to demonize anyone on either side of the issue.
    You might also want to consider the that social programs are provincial responsibilities, so it is hard to know how the Harper government would be cutting these -- maybe you mean such things as literacy programs . . . well, have a look:
    Also -- I don't understand how they could be cutting funding from "queers", since I didn't realize they were funding queers. I live in Ottawa where it was easy to see the taxpayer abuse and mismanagement that was pretty common under the previous Liberal government -- primarily, I think, because they were just in power too long. I am glad to see some of the changes that the Conservatives are making. Do you not think that the most recent funding for the Cancer Centre is a good thing? I hope you will consider giving the Conservatives a fair shake. Like all of us, they are hoping to solve some of the problems that we face. They just have a different view (from you) of what needs to happen to do that. I always think that it helps me learn when I look at things from the other person's perspective.