I am not sure when our society decided that civil disobedience is an inherent democratic right. This, though, seems to be a commonly held belief of progressives. Frequently, I hear it voiced by those who demand, for example, an end to poverty or support for some overseas civil war or in support of some labour strike or other demand.
In the purest sense of the term, civil disobedience in the form of nonviolent resistance is an effective and honourable way in which to express disagreement with governments. Progressives, and especially labour groups, have, however, morphed the term to mean protests of almost any form, even ones in which violence and other anti-social behaviour are used as tactics. We saw this in Toronto during the Garbage Strike there and in the Tamil marches over the civil war in Sri Lanka.
In the run-up to the G8/G20 meetings in Toronto, violence is being offered as a legitimate form of protest.
We have one of the most prominent labour leaders in the country making what Toronto Police Association president Mike McCormack called “idiotic, irresponsible and inflammatory” statements. Why would Sid Ryan, the president of the Ontario Federation of Labour, tell the Canadian Press that he hoped the Integrated Security Unit, in charge of securing the G8 and G20 summits, wouldn’t plant cops disguised as protesters to incite violence? Is this not just a transparent ploy to intimidate police to back off and not to fully enforce the law?
“These concerns are far from ‘groundless,’ as suggested by Toronto Police Association President Mike McCormack,” Ryan said in a statement. “The fact is there have been numerous documented cases of police infiltration of demonstrations at protests around the world, including Canada.”
Of course police infiltrate demonstrations at protests around the world, including Canada. Why wouldn’t they?
Quebec provincial police admitted they placed three undercover officers among protesters at the North American leaders summit in Montebello, Quebec in August 2007, and maybe in rare cases undercover police have gone too far to prove their bona fides to groups they have infiltrated. But “numerous documented cases?” Where, when?
I know of no incident that can justify Ryan’s irresponsible claim that he’s “very concerned that there could be political pressure from the federal Conservative government to use police to provoke a situation that will lead to arrests, purely to justify the enormous security costs of the G20 Summit.”
Ryan is clearly setting us up. When violence occurs, it will have been provoked by the police. That’s his message. Ryan is rabble-rousing, plainly and simply.
And talking about rabble, these people call themselves “activists.” Most of them are professional protesters and anarchists. Some travel many miles to participate in what they like to call “direct action.” They would rather march than run for office to make peaceful change. Violence for a minority is and end in itself, but the majority encourage these smaller numbers by their passive acceptance of them in their midst.
Peace demonstration is fine, violence and vandalism is mindless and illegal.