[Marxism] Absence of left at Ottawa demonstration

Douglas Nesbitt djnesbit at connect.carleton.ca
Sun Jul 23 22:09:37 MDT 2006

Marvin's analysis of the July 22 Ottawa demonstration is largely 
correct. He and I ran into each other at the protest - I was one of the 
IS paper sellers he spoke of. I think there were two reasons for the 
low visibility of the left at the demo. One factor is local, the other 
more general.

1) In terms of local factors, the lack of any organized intervention by 
any left group, except the IS, gave the impression of a lack of a left 
presence. I saw many people from the Ottawa left but they were not 
there in any organized manner, thus making a left presence invisible. 
Aside from the IS, and occasionally the CP, there are usually no 
visible interventions by the left at Ottawa demos. I'm confident Marvin 
will agree with me on this, if anyone thinks it's just sectarian 

2) Ottawa's large student left was either present at the demo in no 
organized manner, working, or working out of town. I'm sure this was 
partially the case across Canada, the US and elsewhere. The largest 
home of the Ottawa student left, the Student Coalition Against War, can 
mobilize hundreds of students during the school year. This summer it 
has been a skeletal organization and was unable to organize a serious 
intervention (SCAW did put up the huge "Troops Out Now" banner on the 
bleachers). As for working or out-of-town students, this was certainly 
the case of the IS and also of SCAW. I know that most of the IS members 
were working that day or working in other cities. Had the demonstration 
been during the school year, students would have been there in the 
hundreds, possibly thousands. During Bush's visit to Ottawa in November 
2004, the vast majority of the 15,000-20,000 protestors were students.

The next Ottawa demo will likely be organized by a new coalition 
uniting trade unions and student groups with Palestinian, Lebanese and 
Muslim organizations. The coalition is being launched this Tuesday.

And if it is any consolation, I sold upwards of a hundred copies of SW. 
But I suppose that all depends on what you think of the Canadian SW!

Doug Nesbitt
Ottawa, Canada

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