'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Good Old Canada 

Bush has touched down in Ottawa.

Based on the content and number of news articles about the forthcoming protests and the fact that BushCo itself has decided to cut the Ottawa visit short because of them, I think these demonstrations are going to large by North American standards.

Anyway, whatever the turnout is like, I'd like to thank our Northern neighbors for all the effort; something like this, for example, is precisely the sort of thing that you would never see in the USA:

New Democratic leader Jack Layton has sent out pre-recorded phone messages encouraging party members to protest against George W. Bush at demonstrations tonight, just hours before he meets with the U.S. president at a state dinner

Layton is heard in voice messages sent Friday to about 2,000 NDP members in the Ottawa area - exhorting them to attend anti-Bush demonstrations, including a candlelight vigil in opposition to the ballistic-missile defence system.

In the message, he gives locations and times for the anti-Bush rallies and asks party members to "join me and the NDP caucus to show Canadians we are leading the fight against Star Wars."

After tonight's demonstrations, Layton will attend a reception for Bush at the Museum of Civilization in Gatineau.

U.S. ambassador to Canada Paul Cellucci called Layton yesterday and assured him he would get a chance, however brief, to speak to the president.

Layton insisted there was nothing disrespectful in taking a face-to-face meeting with Bush while inciting demonstrations against him.

"I don't think it will be any particular surprise to the president that there are a diversity of views on these issues here.

"The president, I think, is well aware that peaceful protests and the expression of points of view are fundamental."

And, you know, I guess one can read this as pro-Bush but I take it more as light-hearted mockery -- Bush is, after all, a Mickey Mouse dictator:

Downtown Ottawa traffic already seemed muted Monday, as though workers prematurely took to heart warnings of presidential road closures. [ ... ] Two helicopters droned circles around the Peace Tower. Below, government workers in ball caps added a few dozen more steel crowd-control barricades to the hundreds already ringing the Hill. Choppers aside, security was not noticeably tighter than usual.

The incongruity of the scene was captured perfectly by the Dominion carillonneur, whose noon serenade from the Peace Tower bells included one of the more powerful U.S. cultural exports: the Mickey Mouse anthem.

"Who's the leader of the club that's made for you and me? M-I-C, K-E-Y, M-O-U-S-E."

The harmony tinkled over a parliamentary precinct bathed in rare November sunshine, a sort of Gothic Disneyland North.

For all the seriousness of playing host to the leader of the free world, there was a bit of a carnival atmosphere to the enterprise.

Of course, Bush's people cut the Ottawa visit short to head off to Nova Scotia, where Bush is supposed to belatedly thank the people of Halifax for hosting families grounded due to 9/11. It probably sounded like a nice idea for a photo-op but, unfortunately, Nova Scotians don't seem to care for Bush anymore than Ottawans.

I'll try to put up some pictures when they become available.
[Hat tip to INTL News for the Ottawa Citizen link]

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