Ottawa demo

Richard Fidler rfidler at
Sat Feb 15 19:04:09 MST 2003

OK, it's about time I got in on the show and tell.

We had a large demo today in Ottawa, Canada's capital, about five or six
thousand at least I (and list lurker Marv Gandel) estimated, which is about
two thousand more than on January 18. The weather was bitterly cold, -20
degrees C (that's below 0 degrees F for you Americans), with a wind chill
factor that made it -37. So the turnout was impressive.

Speakers are not an issue on winter demos here; it's too cold to stand still
to listen! And certainly no issue (as in London) over the state of the
grass; we haven't seen grass since mid-November. There were good chants,
tho. Most of the signs were handlettered and individualistic; a lot of
messages that were quite original. If my fingers hadn't been frozen, I would
have written some down.

I thought the signs and slogans were a bit more political than in January, a
lot more in direct opposition to war on any terms, a lot more on
self-determination for Iraq. This may in part be explained by the presence
of a lot more Québécois on the march; they have no trouble understanding the
question of self-determination, hands off Iraq period, etc. There seemed to
be less churches presence, very few pro-UN inspections slogans, etc.

The march started on the Quebec side of the Ottawa river. I marched part of
the way with the contingent of the Union des forces progressistes, which had
a big banner and handed out a very professional looking four page brochure
featuring their program. We marched over a bridge across the river, then
around the U.S. Embassy, an imposing building in the centre of town.

At first the police tried to block the march past the Embassy; then, as the
march piled up along the street and threatened to break through the line of
cruisers, they suddenly put the cars in gear, backed off and allowed us to
surge through, chanting slogans, etc.

I'll post the figures on Canadian demos when I get them. Keep in mind that
Canada has one tenth the population of the U.S.A.


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