Protesters in Montreal are no longer required to provide a route to police. The Quebec Superior Court invalidated section 2.1 of Municipal Bylaw P-6 which was added at the height of the Maple Spring student protests in 2012 by then-Mayor Gerald Tremblay.

Over the past few years, Montreal Police (SPVM) used this provision to kettle and ticket protesters and to stop marches minutes after they started. The annual Anti-Police Brutality March being a frequent target.

The Quebec Superior Court had already invalidated Section 3.2 of the bylaw, the provision banning masks at protests, back in 2016. In the same ruling, the court put some restrictions on 2.1, but didn’t eliminate it entirely.

Not content with a partial victory, the plaintiffs, which included protest mascot Anarchopanda, decided to appeal. Today they won and the problematic parts of P-6 are gone and the court’s decision is effective immediately.

“Let’s not forget that this victory belongs to our comrades who take to the streets and risk police and judicial repression to fight for all our rights,” Sibel Ataogul, one of the lawyers fighting the appeal said in a Facebook post, adding: “Despite victories, judiciarisation is not the solution. Only the struggle pays.”

* Featured image by Chris Zacchia

Vice President Mike Pence, you know the asshole who believes in “conversion therapy” was recently in my hometown of Buffalo NY to support another known fascist, congressman Chris Collins, and attend a thousand dollar a plate lunch at Salvatores, which is a gaudy, ugly decorated, and ridiculous in itself place. My one star Facebook review was taken down, interesting.

I wonder if women were allowed to attend since Mrs. Pence, aka Mother, was not there? Just in case you didn’t get the memo, this guy can’t eat in the company of any female if his wife is not there. No $1000 spaghetti and meatballs for Mikey today.

Protestors started the party with dancing. We wanted to recreate the big gay rave outside of Mike’s house during inauguration week in DC. “Daddy Pence come DANCE with us!”

Food not bombs brought tea and vegan chili. There were rainbows galore. I really think a sing a long of Danzig’s Mother while taking a knee would have been most appropriate as he passed.

The motorcade zipped by us so quickly. Like a flash from a movie. All of the cops shut down heavy traffic from all directions on one of our biggest intersections. Then came the black vehicles that looked ominous and official to say the least. There was also a random U-Haul… if I were him I would have totally rode in the U-haul.

We had to stay on the sidewalk, the cops said dance as much as you want. The counter protestors, alt right self militia assholes, stood on the perimeter with antiquated headsets that probably didn’t even work. They took photos of us and we documented them just the same.

They were so obvious. One man had a shirt on that said Karl’s Kar Klub… ummm when three things that should be spelled with a C are changed to Ks I have a feeling you are a flaming disgusting pig of a racist.

Another woman wore a yellow jacket and 90s apparel. She looked like a crazy church mom who would so nicely tell you to drink the Koolaid and strap up your white sneakers.

Another really confused me, he was a young white kid with dreads! If you can appropriate black culture then support a white supremacist scumfuck then you are an extra gross enigma.

One of the alt right jerks confronted me when I walked over to my car alone, “Are you supposed to be president trump?” “Yes” I responded. Then they asked if I was for or against him, I said VERY AGAINST, and then he laughed “Well the president doesn’t look anything like that!” “HOW DID YOU KNOW WHO I WAS THEN ASSHOLE?” I then proceeded to show him my chocolate skid marked tighty whities and walk away, that’s the president he voted for. Cheeto jesus with shitty undies.

So I saw Mikeyboy on tv at a machine company in Collins district later that day. He was talking about tax reform that would only help the rich while in one of the poorest rustbelt cites in the country, WTF? Just like everything else in this wretched regime it made no sense to me.

When people yelled “GET A JOB” at us from their giant gas guzzling cars I wanted to yell, fix our economy and stop raping the poor! I have two jobs and make time to fight for what I believe in because I must.

All and all it was a pretty non-eventful, peaceful protest. Queers for Racial Justice got us out there and informed. I was happy to be magically off work that day and ready to rumble, he has to know that he is not welcome here.

Haters and bigots can go fuck off, we will always be here to shut them down peacefully. I will happily not use my milk of magnesia stash today or take a rubber bullet to the guts.

We need to fight them with all we got. Get out there and physically protest! Make your everyday life a protest!

Respect my existence or expect my resistance! (That was my favorite sign there so I chose to carry it.) If you are an artist you better be making art about how this government makes you feel. It is our job to take them down.

Remember that people died at Stonewall so you can hold your girlfriend’s hand in public. We have come a long way and are in danger of getting those rights stripped by assholes in power. We must stand up for those who cannot. There was a transwoman in a wheelchair leading chants. We all need to be more like her!

I am dressing up like Donald Trump again this Saturday for The Stripteasers Haunted Whitehouse show at Nietzsche’s because nothing is scarier than our current political state in the US. I have been dubbed The Alec Baldwin of burlesque, and I am ok with that.

I hate being trump to be honest with you. Its hard to be an asshole, I am a method actor so I become the character. I will be sitting on stage on an actual toilet reading his actual stupid tweets all night long.

Twitter on the shitter, thats what we get folks. This is real life. Save us all…

Remember the time I was almost arrested for sharing free food with my friends?

I do. It was a cold, rainy May Day and we showed up to Lafayette Square (in Buffalo NY) as usual, well maybe we were 10 minutes late, and then as soon as I got out of the car and hugged my one of the people waiting in line, BOOM, out comes an officer of the law to tell me I needed to stop.

STOP? Stop serving my community while you sit there serving a paycheck? STOP? Stop providing necessary organic vegetables to those too poor to afford them, to those living in a food desert, to those who are HUNGRY RIGHT NOW, to those waiting in the rain for a meal (believe me if they didn’t need it they wouldn’t be there).

I could not serve my friends in the park. Our picnic was trampled by someone paid with my tax dollars. My heart was broken.

Buffalo Food Not Bombs serves every Monday and Saturday and has for over 20 years, no matter rain, snow, or sunshine we are out there with our friends, our people, our community. Some things are maybe not worth getting arrested for, this is not one of those things. I will do anything in my power to keep our free vegan picnic going forever.

Volunteering has given my life meaning, I have made some incredible friends, and when I walk down the street people wave to me, people I serve, people I love dearly, people who need nourishment. Food Not Bombs is a worldwide movement against hunger and food waste, we got this. 

They said it was permits we needed- well I went to the permit office like a bat out of hell immediately after and guess what they told me? NO PERMITS ARE NECESSARY IF THE FOOD IS FREE! How about them (free) apples?

We only serve vegetables so the laws about meat temperature do not apply to us. We only give away things for free that were donated so no taxes apply to us. This food is a gift and there is no gain to share unsafe food.

We share the food immediately after it is cooked in a clean and inspected kitchen with gloves and clean containers and cutlery. We have filed paperwork with the Health Department to make sure we are legit on that account, but both of the kitchens we cook in have already been on the books and inspected, so why? Why are we being hassled now?

One thought is that May Day is a day that activists tend to lash out against “the man”. Perhaps we were a threat? Giving out free food to serve the revolution is dangerous. Making sure there are no rumbling tummies is a travesty.

The Police have always had a watchful eye on us, Feed them? Ha, make them starve! Not on my watch, bro. If I have an abundance I will share it by any means necessary.

Another theory is that there is also a new “luxury” hotel right across from Lafayette Square, perhaps they don’t want tourists to see our homeless population? Gentrification will not stand, this is a public park, and our people will continue to enjoy it. I have heard of people getting arrested for serving free food in places like Florida, but there are no standing laws that apply to us here in Buffalo.

That day I gave my phone number to a few regulars, the next day an elderly woman hit me up. She depended on our free produce. Her sister is also vegan, they cannot afford that life without our support. I hooked her up with produce and gave her a ride home.

It turns out that she used to be an art teacher, she dedicated her life to making children see beauty. She told me not to swear (I am a potty mouth fo sho) and also said that she went to the same church as one of the officers. I hope she makes her cry on Sunday.

This woman is so sweet, thank you again Sara, for reminding me why we do this. I made a friend for life because I reached out a hand full of food and she needed it. This sweet woman told me that I was doing God’s work. Well, I am an atheist, but I respect that because I knew religion was very important to her. I will NEVER STOP! Never.

We made asparagus with garlic and olive oil, mixed veggies, green salad, apple crisp, banana cranberry bread, mixed sweet and white potatoes, roasted caramelized cabbage, cantelope, fresh bread and bagels, fruit smoothies, iced sweet tea, and organic produce to share. Thankfully we were able to serve our meal at the University of Buffalo in solidarity with Muslim students at a hate speech by Robert Spencer (anti-jihad alt right nut job) that was sponsored by the on campus white supremacist student group. So it didn’t go to waste. We found an alternate place to serve for that one day, we will be back in our regular place ASAP.

The community support has been phenomenal. Many have reached out and will be volunteering with us. This Saturday’s share will be incredible. I cannot wait to see what comes of this.

Thank you for the free publicity. We will have an uproar from our beautiful neighbors to stand up for those who need a meal. Shame on you for trying to shut us down! If you had a problem with us, tell us and we will fix it, don’t shut us down when people are depending on us to eat that day!

The cops were always “nice” to us in the past. A week before there was a young, black, female officer that was “helping” us. This week she would not look me in the eye as we were forced to shut down. She was a plant, she was used because we would accept her presence a little easier. Officer Gentrification looked a lot like the cop from Terminator 2. I am not intimidated or impressed. Their hungry tummies are on your conscience sir!

You did not serve or protect anyone on this day. I had to tell a homeless person of color “Do not take that bread.” I had to tell an elderly woman whose hand was shaking “Do not take those apples.” I had to tell a woman with small children “I cannot give you that food.”

Food is necessary for survival, it is a right and not a privilege! I should have stood up right then and there, but I didn’t, and I am disappointed in myself. I thought about the people I was with, other volunteers, the good ones, and didn’t want them to get hurt.

My community is my life. I care about the people we serve as if they were my family because all humans are my family! This is a cause worth getting arrested for. If we are told to stop once more, the next meal is a protest and everyone is invited.

Panelists AG and Jerry Gabriel discuss Donald Trump’s travel ban and Pride Toronto’s decision to not allow uniformed police to participate in the next parade with host Jason C. McLean. Plus News Roundup. Community Calendar and Predictions!

News Roundup Topics: Françoise David’s farewell, Keystone back on the table, Ireland divesting from fossil fuels

Panelists:

AG: Communications sales rep and political observer

Jerry Gabriel: FTB contributor

Host: Jason C. McLean

Producers: Hannah Besseau (audio), Enzo Sabbagha (video)

Reports by Hannah Besseau

Recorded Sunday, January 29th, 2017 in Montreal

LISTEN:

WATCH:

Microphone image: Ernest Duffoo / Flickr Creative Commons

In the week since t-bag took over a lot has already changed. The pipeline will chug on, a wall will be constructed, funding for the arts is gone, legal safe abortion is threatened, media block on the EPA to hide climate change, it’s acceptable and legal to discriminate against gays, people in important positions are jumping ship and everyone that trump puts in is more evil than the last.

He is plotting evil as you read this. More and more rights are going to be stripped from us. We must stand up to this. Scientists put the clock one minute closer to impending doom.

Washington DC had a very dystopian feel, it was so foggy that you could not see the penis tip of the Washington Monument. Inauguration Day meant broken glass on the streets of DC. Starbucks, bank, and McDonalds windows smashed like the patriarchy itself. A limo burned.

Protesters were greeted with a wallowing pink smoke, tear gas, mace burned, and ears rang from flash cannons. It was a strange feeling.

Impending doom and the need for empowerment. We all must organize and resist.

The time is right now to make a difference and show the world that this asshole does not represent the silent majority. Riot gear is more than a pink knitted pussy cat hat.

I hope the women in pink hats taking selfies saw this and were changed. Step one is getting off of the internet and out into the streets. Then real change must happen.

People of privilege need to get called out and then call out others like them. I am an a white woman and I carried a vagina sign, I am now ashamed of that, not because I have a vagina, but because not ALL women have them.

I was not marching for white vaginas, I was marching for ALL women. Intersectional feminism requires us to stand up in solidarity for all. When we are inclusive but still blind it actually adds to the problem. Showing up but not listening. Trans women, Non binary humans, Black women, Muslim women, Immigrant women, Disabled women, Single Mothers, Mother Earth, Rape Victims, Sex Workers, and everyone who needs love all deserve to feel safe. All of these humans need to be protected from the evil afoot.

I was upset with all of the Angela Davis quote signs out there and these girls didn’t even know that she was speaking right over to the left of them. She was just a sign that was on the internet.

Too busy taking selfies to actually hear the words written on your sign, too busy celebrating yourself to give a hand to those who need lifting up, and too white washed to see the problem.

It is a privilege to even go to Washington DC and march. Many women cannot just take off of work and go. I was sad that I didn’t get there a day earlier for the big gay rave in front of Daddy Pence’s house.

I will be there in June when the gays march. Rainbows will take over! Can’t stop, won’t stop.

I was disgusted to hear that a group of women that are water protectors on the front line of the Dakota Access Pipeline were treated like pieces of selfie meat. People took photos of them but did not listen about their struggle or even take a pamphlet.

The struggle is real, it is not a hashtag. People are being brutalized and mother earth is being raped for money and power. DO NOT OBJECTIFY THEM for Facebook likes!

The first woman I met was 62, from California. She said to my friends and I that she was here for us and our future. She had been fighting her entire life and would die trying to make this world better.

She inspired me, in her 60s she started climbing mountains because why not? She was sick of society telling her not to do things and told us to always do what we dream and take action.

Life goes by fast, we only have a short time to make things better for the next generation. She was brave and beautiful.

On the flip side an older woman came up to me and told me I was a distraction and that I should be ashamed of myself because I was topless. I told her I respected her as a woman but did not agree.

I am empowered and I wish to inspire others to be the same. There needed to be more breasts out at the woman’s march. This should be a safe place to feel confident about yourself and not hide behind what society wants from you.

Well behaved women seldom make history is a sign I saw and something I agree with wholeheartedly. I will not put my breasts away for you Missy.

The whole event kind of felt like Facebook in real life, censorship and all. I even saw straight up memes printed out on signs. You take the meme from the internet then but it on a sign and take a picture of it, just to post it back on the internet, like a TV within a TV. You cannot carry a sign without carrying the burden of hate.

Signs are all well and good but don’t really mean shit. You need direct actions behind those words.

I was also pretty turned off by the fact that people weren’t even paying attention to both sides of their signs. One protester carried a sign that said FEDEX on the back, both sides are advertising bro, always think of both sides of every sign or argument.

There were llamas there marching too, which is wrong! The poor creatures were scared. Do not abuse an animal for your agenda! This is a protest, think!

I was also turned off by the fact that there were a zillion pussy signs and no toilet paper to be had, so everyone is there with a dirty pussy. The revolution needs more toilet paper and access to tampons etc. I want to be a vag warrior and hand out tp and tampons to all women. Also I will include a zine about inclusion and loving and supporting our transgender sisters.

During the Women’s March two trump (he does not get the capitol T) supporters walked by. One of the men dropped a button with trump’s face on it, then continued walking on.

My friend pulled the button in with her foot and started to stomp it. Within a second it seemed that one of the men came back. He literally pushed my friend to the ground to get her off of the button. I instantly ran to her side and into his face. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? You have the audacity to push down a woman at a fucking women’s march?

All of my aggression and screaming did not turn a single head, no woman came to help. The only person who did approach me was an older woman who just kept saying ‘love trumps hate’.

In retrospect I should have fucking nailed him. Getting arrested wearing nothing but rainbow and wielding a rubber fist would have made me a hero. I know that fighting hate with more hate is not the answer, but when he was walking away he said “Nice tits!” THEY ARE NOT FOR YOUR ENJOYMENT!

We need to call people like this out and stand up against violence and oppression. I think every woman needs to start carrying a rape whistle again, so people notice you when you are in trouble.

While the pink hats did get women out, they need to get more involved and know that getting out once is not enough. We all need to criticize our own activism.

Do not question why BLACK LIVES MATTER is being chanted at a women’s march! Do not destroy Mother Earth by littering your signs and hats on the ground. You should be saving those signs to use again for the next rally. Always keep fighting.

Yes we need to fight for our reproductive rights and equality for all in pay and opportunity, but don’t forget about climate change, the fact that water is life, and war is always looming over us too. Global issues affect all humans.

The Women’s March was a worldwide gathering of the goddesses! Women and feminist men took to the streets and spoke out against oppression and hate. It was truly monumental. It must become a movement, it must keep strong.

We must support all of the efforts of our community and work together to prevent a meltdown. I expect to see pink hats at the next Black Lives Matter event, or at the #NODAPL rally, or to fight against Muslim registries or Immigration blocks. This country and world needs all of us to be accountable and brave.

There was a girl on a light post with a megaphone leading chants and giving out info. Someone asked her if she was an organizer, she said “No, someone just gave me a microphone!” BE THAT GIRL! Take charge of the moment and be the change.

I felt like I could become President, that it needed to be one of us and NOT one of them! No more politicians! No more businessmen! We need to be informed, educated, and strong together.

My rubber fist said FILTHY AND PROUD, I will never be silenced. My voice will spark the revolution in harmony with the war cries of a million of my sisters. Daily direct action wins. Nobody can stop us.

* All Photos in this post by Kat Whitefield from the Buffalo Forum and The Voice of Revolution Newspaper

A sea of pink flooded the National Mall in Washington D.C. on January 21st, 2017. Overwhelming chants of, “Welcome to your first day, we will not go away!” and more humorous, “We want a leader, not a creepy tweeter!” were audible from the White House and around the world.

Organizers of the Women’s March on Washington anticipated 200 000 participants; they got half a million – as many as Woodstock. Too many for the planned march to actually take place.

Globally, as many as 5 million people marched in solidarity with the women of America against the proposed policies of the nascent Trump administration. By some accounts, it was the biggest protest in US history.

Donald Trump has vowed to defund Planned Parenthood and other organizations, both foreign and domestic, that fund and promote women’s reproductive health. He has promised to roll back sex education and promote abstinence; he has normalized sexual violence, demonized members of the LGBTQ community and has thumbed his nose at the gender pay gap. Not to mention all the nasty things he has said about women. What’s next buddy, our right to vote?

However, “Women’s Issues” do not exist in a vacuum, and most issues are women’s. To quote a speaker at the Women’s March, “You want to discuss woman’s issues? So, you want to talk about the economy?”

Our concerns transcend our gender identities. Women’s issues are intersectional, nobody is just a woman and nothing else. Because many of us are immigrants and fear deportation and loss of family, we marched for that, because we are queer, of colour and differently abled, working class and social services users, air breathers, water drinkers and environmental lovers. Because we are mothers, trans, Muslim and atheist, we marched against Trump’s far-reaching promises to harm us all.

It was a beautiful sight to behold. I cried more than twice. A love army composed of privates from all walks of life, shades, creeds and beliefs marching together in solidarity for a brighter and more inclusive future.

This all sounds good, right? Who among the left wouldn’t want a safer and fairer America. Isn’t that what we have all been fighting for after all? Who wouldn’t support a cause dedicated to protecting our fellow sisters and brothers?

There are many valid critiques of the contemporary feminist movement, such as those of the lack of intersectionality i.e. white and ablest feminism, trans-exclusionary feminism, and sex-worker exclusionary feminism, among others. These discussions are welcomed, constructive and necessary for our collective growth. So is the lack of indigenous representation at the march.

However, it seems as if progressive (North) America is still deeply divided along lines that are not so productive and ultimately cannibalizing. A sour flavour of activist shaming is rearing its ugly head from within.

I was disturbed by some comments I saw on my Facebook feed the day of the March. Comments such as: “Wow. Wouldn’t it be great if people protested in the same numbers for clean water on First Nation reserves as when they protest a foreign leader?” and “You can march, you can wear that pink pussy hat you knitted…but here’s the thing: Donald Trump will still be the President of the USA. Today, and tomorrow, and the day after that. So until people start examining the root causes of the problems that led U.S. citizens to this choice, nothing is going to be effective.” Really?

I admit that I am a white woman and carry that privilege. The people I just quoted, though, carry the same white privilege.

Their comments and others like them are nothing other than left on left activist shaming. Bullying. These internal critics seem to believe that there is one right way to be a progressive political activist, their way. Shaming people for actively participating in democracy, for pulling themselves away from Netflix and paying their way to fight for a cause that is important to them, should not be tolerated. These attitudes are counter-productive. They feed division and hurt people who should be your allies.

Nobody can do it all. All we can do as activists is fight as hard as we can. Many of us would like to do it all, (I know I would) but inevitably we are doomed to fall short.

As members of the human species, we suffer from the unconquerable afflictions of limited energy, time and means, so we must prioritize what lights the fire in our bellies. We must decide which causes are important to us.

Whether an injustice affects you personally or indirectly, if you care about it, you go! You do you, as long are you are doing good and not harm, don’t let anyone ever tell you are doing good wrong.

Hilary Clinton was right about one thing; we are stronger together. Unthoughtful and petty shaming of our fellow activists for volunteering their energies to one cause over another only leads to further divisions in an already balkanized left.

I am not proposing that everyone always agree with the nuances or particulars of the tactics used toward a given cause. I am only asking that people stand back and take a good look at the bigger picture and get over their egos. I implore my fellow lefties to ask, what is the end goal, and do I support it? In the case of the Women’s March, the goal is equality for all. Now what kind of progressive cannot get behind that?

* Photos by Amy Santos

This Saturday, our day started at the New Carrollton Metro stop just outside Washington DC. We knew the rally was going to be massive when we saw that the line for metro tickets stretched back several blocks to the ramp off the highway. Luckily we already had purchased our tickets in advance.

When boarding, the train filled well over capacity. New Carrollton being the last stop, we had to pass all the other closer stops with out picking up additional passengers. It reminded me of being home on the NYC L train subway line.

In DC there were people in all directions. It is impossible to explain how full the city felt. The main event with the stage and speakers was actually only a part of the overall event since far less than half of the marchers could actually fit in the space set up for that part of the rally. The crowd stretched back shoulder to shoulder for several blocks behind the main stage despite there not being a speaker system or televisions facing that way to see and hear what was happening.

You may be wondering what it is like to be in the middle of a crowd of 750 000 to a million protestors. The roar of the crowd was deafening at times, a wash of white noise like a furious ocean.

We managed to get to a place with a side view of the stage. Again, everyone was shoulder to shoulder, foot to foot, but even closer now somehow. Any kind of mobility more than a torso turn to the left or right was left to the collective will. Still, no one seemed to panic.

The message was simple and displayed not only in words but action and tone. Being in the middle of that crowd I finally fully realized that this was not a rally of hate or fear of an opposing side. It was the peaceful expression of a growing movement for equality, compassion and understanding. It was a comforting community.

To that point, one of the greatest successes of this Saturday seems to be the unification of so many civil rights factions. In the past six months Donald Trump has become a global symbol for racism, sexism and classism. Though given ample opportunity to, he has done nothing significant to defend himself against any such charges.

Groups like Planned Parenthood, Gathering for Justice, Moms Demand Action, Arab American Association, Natural Resources Defense Council, Pro-Choice America, ACLU, American Federation of Teachers and too many more to list, now have in Trump one common and paramount threat to rally against. Hearing a near million chant things like “We will not go away, welcome to your first day,” it has become clear that this movement is in for the long haul.

It is important to note that considering the race, economic and gender diversity I witnessed in DC on Saturday, I find it best to think of the Woman’s March not as a woman only movement but more as a movement of full inclusion.

I think California Senator Kamala Harris expressed it perfectly yesterday when she spoke at the rally saying:

“I was elected as the first woman or the first woman of color and folks would come up to me and they would say, Kamala, talk to us about women’s issues and I would look at them and I would say I am so glad you want to talk about the economy. I would say, great, let’s talk about the economy because that is a woman’s issue. I’d say you want to talk about women’s issues, let’s talk about national security. You want to talk about women’s issues, that’s fantastic, let’s talk about health care, education, let’s talk about criminal justice reform, let’s talk about climate change.

We all know the truth. If you are a woman trying to raise a family, you know that a good paying job is a women’s issue. If you are a woman who is an immigrant who does not want her family torn apart, you know that immigration reform is a women’s issue. If you are a woman working off student loans, you know the crushing burden of student debt is a woman’s issue. If you are a black mother trying to raise a son, you know black lives is a woman’s issue. If you are a woman period, you know we deserve a country with equal pay and access to health care, including a safe and legal abortion protected as a fundamental and constitutional right.”

The most important message that I take from this historical event is that even though you may personally believe the issues Senator Kamala Harris mentioned to be self-evident, we no longer live in a world where you can blindly count on them to be preserved. No longer is it enough to casually read blogs and make comments on Facebook, Twitter, Periscope or the like. We need to go out and engage the world.

I urge you to voice your opinion as loud as you can. If you do this you will be heard. Each person came who came to DC this Saturday made sacrifices to be there. They did this out of a great feeling of urgency. Through their individual effort they proved that a million voices speaking a simple and reasonable truth at once can be heard around the world.

I’ll leave you with some inspiring words said at this Saturday’s rally by the great activist and author Angela Davis:

“Over the next months and years we will be called upon to intensify our demands for social justice to become more militant in our defense of vulnerable populations. Those who still defend the supremacy of white male hetero-patriarchy had better watch out….The next 1459 days of the Trump administration will be 1459 days of resistance: Resistance on the ground, resistance in the classrooms, resistance on the job, resistance in our art and in our music….This is just the beginning and in the words of the inimitable Ella Baker, ‘We who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes.’”

* Post was edited at 12:54 pm Jan 23. Line removed in section on diversity of the march

“I didn’t choose the boot, the boot chose me!” – Vermin Supreme

Vermin Supreme is an incredible character, a friendly fascist, a tyrant you can trust. He is an internet meme, a pop culture reference, an incredible performance artist and political symbol of hope.

He is my candidate! I agree with the platform that everyone must brush their teeth, the zombie apocalypse is near, and a pony would be so fun.

I have seen him in the news for years, always thinking who is this man? Running for office in New Hampshire and President of the good ol’ USA. I never in a million years would think I would get to hang out with him.

I knew the Victory Tour was coming to Mohawk Place in Buffalo on its way to Washington DC and figured I would check it out, but then a good friend of mine texted me, saying they needed couches to crash on. As incredible it would be to have THE VERMIN SUPREME on my couch, I hooked them up at the hostel where I work so they would be more comfortable.

I really did not know what to expect from the show. Local activist band The Blood Thirsty Vegans opened the show, then the adorable Rob Potylo sang some politically charged and just plain fun songs (my favorite being Hot Dogs and Apple Sauce) to lead into Vermin Supreme.

He started the show with the Star Spangled Banner done in an experimental noise style with a megaphone. There were a lot of sing-a-longs including a depressing ballad called Psycho Kitty, a song about crabs, and an introduction to Spud Head a baby doll with a matching booted head. He also read some pony erotica from his book I Pony.

I felt like a little girl again clapping along and laughing out loud. The show was a glorious escape from reality, it was art for art’s sake, it was FUN during a dark time. He made me laugh on the edge of the apocalypse.

That is who I want for president, not some asshole who doesn’t know how to smile and never made art in his poor excuse for a life. Fun and love reigns supreme, not hate and violence.

I wish that all politicians remembered how to be kids, remembered that if you run fast enough you can fly. He ran down the icy sidewalk screaming like a madman, I was inspired. Told me a story of him doing the same thing naked and stone sober at a Rainbow Gathering. Everyone thought he was just a spun out hippie, or a wiley homeless man, definitely some kind of uncharted crazy.

Then he puts on the boot and gets asked to take selfies in the hundreds. He was at ROTFL Con and met THE keyboard cat and Scumbag Steve (among others), Grumpy Cat was still a happy kitten then. Vermin has been a performance artist for years, this character just stuck, he became Vermin Supreme, even legally changing his name.

He says that it’s great to be him because he lives life inconspicuously and then puts on the boot for celebrity status. It is amazing that once you do something people notice you. It takes an act of ridiculousness to get people’s attention, then you can give them the 1-2 punch of ideology and compassion.

NYC performance artist Matthew Silver is the only other artist that I have met who has this effect on the art world and people at large, and he is going to be Vermin’s Vice President. I am excited to see them interact with each other. I remember coming across Matthew while in New York during the Occupy Wall Street movement and The Slut Walk, he stood there in his underwear spouting sonnets of love.

He made me smile. I remember watching him get harassed by the police, and he turned it right on, he has the right to do this! Then I knew he was a performance artist and not another lost soul. I was monumentally impressed. The spontaneity, wackiness, and love with these two combined will be off the charts.

I even enjoyed the merch they sold. His tour manager wore a shirt that said “I Love Butt Drugs” which is apparently a real drugstore somewhere in Indiana. They sold wind up penises, embellished ties, glitter tooth brushes, and other random goodies.

All and all I was completely amused and inspired. It was yet another reason for me to truck on to DC this weekend. I will wear my gold glittered Vermin Supreme the dye tie with pride.

All you have to do to be an artist is to make art! Live it! Breath it! Be insane about your art, put your heart and ideals on display and you will connect with the people. As a performance artist I must allow myself to break free. I must allow my naked self to baffle the buffoons, to sparkle in the face of absurdity and the obscene. Nobody can teach you how to be yourself, you are the only one who can brighten your individual light.

Vermin Supreme became an icon when he put the boot on his head because that’s when people listened (and maybe everyone secretly wants a pony). What is my boot?

I am so excited to go to Washington DC this weekend for the Inauguration Protest and The Million Woman March. This is a scary time and we must stand together to face this evil. A tyrant has been appointed by the redneck racists and the Russians, he is putting the 1% in charge and stripping the rights of everyone else in the name of god and profit.

I have been asking myself WHY AM I GOING? Why am I going to Washington DC to protest? Because I simply must! Yes, I wish I would have gone sooner, tried to stop this unstoppable evil, but the only time is right now.

I have never been to my nation’s capitol, and this is the time to go, front row seats to the end of the world. I don’t want the world to burn like at the end of Fight Club, I just want people to love! I want everyone to be safe and have healthcare, be allowed to love and live in peace, put an end to war and oppression, equality for all humans.

Black Lives Do Matter. Immigrants build this country so we must welcome them with open arms. We need safety for our Trans brothers and sisters, support for the mentally ill, homes for the homeless, rehabilitation for the addicted, happiness for the sad, food for everyone, clean air and water, a better environment, and an education system that will encourage and expand young minds.

A pony would be nice too, it would be more environmentally friendly than a car, give us all great companionship and a sense of responsibility and love for another life. Plus ponies are just so darn cute. I would eat carrots with mine all day long, brush her mane, and listen to punk music with her (cuz that’s what she likes). Maybe I will name her Warrior Princess Cherry Rainbow Buttercup Sinclair?

I am going to Washington because while I do recognize that it is important to rise up in your own communities, sometimes you must converge with your comrades and organize to resist! Direct action is the only way to disrupt evil. Reach out a hand and help! Clean something, feed someone, and respect the beautiful diversity of humanity.

Every person in every city needs to stand up and speak out! Even if you voted for Trump you must realize how dumb this is. He is based in pure hate and has no business being in the White House. All of his promises are bullshit.

President Obama received so much criticism, but will go down in history as an eloquent human who made a difference in our world. He is a great father, husband, and humanitarian that helped open the doors for social change.

I am going to Washington to help end racism, hate in all forms, oppression of women, and war. I have been reading about how the Million Women March has not been as inclusive as it should be to women of color, which unfortunately has been a problem with feminism since the first wave.

White female privilege is real. Just because I am a woman does not cancel out the fact that I am white. White women threw black women under the bus when it came to the vote, even making them march at the back of the line!

Similar things are happening with this march. Even the name was appropriated from a march organized by black women in 1997.

We cannot segregate our feminism! That is as demeaning and shitty as T-bag grabbing pussies. ALL PUSSIES ARE EQUAL and deserve respect and a voice! All women need to hold hands and fight back, we are stronger united.

I am getting into a van with a variety of women, some of which I do not know very well, but have been activists their whole lives. Others, like me, are going to their first large scale protest. We all care, we all want change, we are all scared, we are all willing to speak up and be strong for each other.

Of course it is scary. I do not trust the police, I do not trust the military, or the terror of Trumpocalypse, and what he and his scumfuck cronies are going to do with our precious world.

I know that I will have my water bottle half filled with water and the other half filled with milk of magnesia, just in case they pepper spray me. I will have impermeable layers and protective face masks in case of tear gas.

I am not going to Washington to set fires or cause physical destruction. I am going to burn down the evil with my words and artistic presence. I am going to create a better world for the future for the children who already exist (and those yet to come).

I am speaking up while I still can, before all of my rights are stripped, before I am too old or sick to stand tall. I am going now because I must be there. You cannot cower in the face of adversity, you must look it in the eye and smile. You must hand it a flower and give it a hug, you must show evil that there is another way.

Vermin Supreme inspires me because he is out there doing it! He is living proof that the revolution is real and we are allowed to have fun even though the ship is currently sinking.

Laughter saves lives, activism opens eyes, and everyone has an artistic voice. Find your boot, your power source, put it on, and change the fucking world!

Neda Topaloski, one of the FEMEN activists who disturbed the 2015 Montreal Grand Prix, had her second and final day in court today. As per FEMEN’s usual tactics, Topalski protested bare-chested during the high profile event, and in a national first, she is now facing criminal charges for it.

“We’re in Canada and there’s no precedent for such cases. Our bodies are our banners for our values and ideas. It’s the first time there is an attempt to criminalize them,” explained Topaloski in a phone interview with FTB on Thursday morning. According to her, it’s the state of democracy and freedom in Canada that is at stake in this trial.

Topaloski was arrested on June 4th 2015, after she appeared topless in front of one of the showcased cars on Crescent Street and yelled “Montreal is not a brothel!”

She was referring to the sexual tourism that doubles or triples every time the high profile Grand Prix is organised in Montreal. She was initially charged on four counts, but the charges of indecency and exhibitionism were dropped last week. The crown is thus going forward with charges of mischief and disturbing the peace.

Topaloski claims FEMEN’s actions are a non-violent form of political expression and should not be criminalized. “Seeing activism as disturbance of peace is absolutely perverse, because expression doesn’t trouble peace, violence troubles peace,” she argued.

She was also accused of mischief. The crown alleges she dented the hood of the car she was leaning on during the stunt. The activist says that this is “absolutely impossible.” She notes that the Grand Prix is always full of pictures of women sitting on cars for publicity purposes and that none of them faced such accusations.

The Grand Prix: “A powerful lobby”

This is the first time a FEMEN protest has resulted in criminal charges in Canada, despite several public actions of the same sort. Topaloski believes that she is only being prosecuted this time because She managed to “sully the image of the Grand Prix.”

“It bothers this powerful lobby and it is because of their pressure that we are charged this time, but not the time that we were in the Canadian parliament, nor the time we were at the National Assembly in Quebec.”

In April 2015, Neda Topaloski interrupted a press conference about Law 20 at the National Assembly. She irrupted topless on stage to protest against the new law’s failure to prioritize free and accessible abortion.  She had done a similar act on Parliament Hill in Ottawa to protest C-51 just a few weeks earlier.

Allegations of excessive use of force

On Wednesday, Topaloski’s lawyer immediately moved to have all the charges thrown on the grounds that the arrest was unlawful. She argued that the Grand Prix’s private security made an excessive use of force.

“It was more than an arrest; I was dragged on the floor, still topless, they pulled my hair out…” recalls Topaloski. She highlights that their behaviour was wildly different from what she has seen from police officers in similar situations.

“[The security guards] were trying to prove that they were the guys in control of the situation and of the value of women. They used that situation to abuse, physically and violently.”

A video of the arrest was submitted to the court as proof. Although she is not sure of this move’s potential success, Topaloski explained that it is important for her to “shed light on those who perpetuate violence rather than those who protest for equality and are repressed and targeted by violence because of it.”

The court will probably not reach a verdict today, but Topaloski says she trusts that “common sense” and “constitutional rights” will prevail: “I have the law and the constitution on my side. Therefore, I hope that the judge will be able to recognize this.”

 

President Trump. President Donald Trump. Yes, a few months from now that will be an actual thing people say. For now, he’s President Elect, but sadly, he is no longer a joke and he never should have been. We need to keep fighting Trump.

The over-the-top reality star will soon be Commander-in-Chief of the largest military in the world. Islamophobia, racism and misogyny have been part of American politics for a while, but they just went uber-mainstream with Trump’s win a little over a week ago.

What’s now frighteningly apparent is that his alt-right (really a fancy way to say white nationalists with computer skills) base, emboldened by his win, are voicing their bigotry and hatred and scaring the crap out of immigrants, visible minorities and anyone that doesn’t fit into their white supremacist, misogynistic and anti-Semetic worldview.

Swastikas are showing up all over the US, people are being attacked, middle schoolers are even chanting “build that wall” and making school a frightening place for some of their classmates. Buzzfeed has even put together a tracker of racist incidents in the US since the Trump victory.

While Trump did tell his supporters to stop it with their racist attacks and graffiti, his early staff choices send the opposite message. He just appointed Steve Bannon, who ran Breitbart “News” as CEO until joining the Trump campaign, his top policy adviser. Bannon had proudly declared Breitbart to be a “platform for the alt-right” and oversaw the publication of articles with incredibly nasty headlines.

Just a taste of the nastiness (image: gizmodo.com)
Just a taste of the nastiness (image: gizmodo.com)

There is also now word that Trump will, in fact, be creating a Muslim Registry. One of his supporters even cited American internment of citizens of Japanese origin as precedent.

Throw in promises to break US climate agreements and the prospect of a second Supreme Court pick after he fills Scalia’s seat and you get a picture that is terrifying for people of colour, the LGBT community, women and the planet.

How Did We Get Here?

President Trump is bad news, that much is clear. But why is this now a reality? It’s because no one took his candidacy seriously. Comics thought him running would produce gold for them, but no worries, because, of course he wouldn’t win. Pundits, same thing. Even I didn’t take him seriously at first.

But we’re not the only ones. The establishment of the Democratic Party clearly didn’t consider Trump as a serious threat, either, despite their public rhetoric. They even tried to push both him and Ted Cruz to the top of the GOP heap thinking they would be easier candidates to beat than Jeb Bush.

clinton-sanders

It’s true that Trump’s core support came from xenophobic racist misogynists and they’re now the ones strutting and scaring the shit out of everyone,  but this “basket of deplorables” weren’t the only ones who voted for him. If they were, the electoral map would have looked quite different. The bigots are still a minority.

It’s white working class voters in states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida and now Michigan that tipped the balance this time around. It’s not that their privilege blinded them to what a Trump Presidency could mean, it’s simply that Trump’s obvious bigotry meant less to them than the prospect of losing jobs due to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) did. Some lifelong rust belt Democrats who voted Obama twice and supported Bernie in the Primaries switched to Trump in the General.

A truly selfish act, to be sure, and an ultimately counterproductive one. Stopping the TPP is probably the first campaign promise Trump will break.

There was also a real feeling of dissatisfaction with the political establishment which Trump, posing as a populist, was able to tap into. If the choice had been between a right-wing, xenophobic pseudo-populist and a real left-wing populist like Bernie Sanders, Sanders would have easily won.

This election also proved that standard political tactics like a good ground game and mainstream media support are now less important than huge rallies and a solid social media strategy. Trump ran an unconventional campaign, so did Sanders. Clinton played it business as usual and lost.

What Needs to Happen Now in the Democratic Party

It’s all water under the bridge, now, but that water is what people need for drinking and bathing, so we can’t ignore how we got here and Democrats can’t ignore the mistakes they made. If they do, they are bound to repeat them.

The party establishment didn’t just lose. They lost to a third-rate PT Barnum who only ran to get a better TV deal with NBC. They lost to a man who admitted to being sexual predator during a national radio interview and who has bragged on tape about sexual assault. They lost to their dream opponent. They lost to Donald Fucking Trump.

If that’s not the impetus Democrats need to show their leadership the door, I don’t know what is. Now is the time to replace everyone at the top who pushed for Clinton over Sanders in the Primaries. Progressives need to take over the Democratic Party…soon!

If there is pushback, and there will be, fight it. If the pushback from the DNC establishment succeeds, it might be time to think about a new party. Even as President, Trump may end up destroying the Republican Party and there could be room for a new party in the two-party system.

What Needs to Happen Now Outside of the Echo Chamber

I had thought, as did many, that if he won, protests against Trump would start on day one of his Presidency. I was wrong. They started less than 24 hours after he won the Electoral College vote and became the President Elect.

From mass marches in New York City, Chicago and around the country to high school students walking out of class, people are voicing their displeasure with an impending Trump Presidency and what it will mean for them and their communities. This needs to continue.

Anti-Trump Protest NYC (image CBS)
Anti-Trump Protest NYC (image CBS)

No, the whole “just accept the election results” line or the “give him a chance” attitude don’t fly in this case. First, he’s already shown us by appointing Bannon that he blew his chance to change the tone to a more President of all Americans one. Second, protesting the government, or even an incoming government is never wrong, in fact, it’s a right.

If Clinton had won and stepped too far to the right with her picks, I would expect progressives, even those who voted for her, to be challenging her every step of the way. Now with Trump living up to the worst nightmare scenario fears and his most fervent bigoted supporters having their day in the sun, protesting has become a necessity.

An  election does not give the winner immunity from protest in a democracy. When the President Elect is promising to usher in a downright dangerous environment for marginalized groups, those groups and their allies should challenge the President Elect any way they can.

As for tactics, hitting the streets, boycotting Trump-aligned brands and calling out racism and misogyny can all be effective. Right here in Montreal, there is a Stop Bannon Phone-a-Thon putting Americans living here in touch with their local elected officials. There is also a solidarity action in the US encouraging people who aren’t the target of persecution (ie. white people) to register as Muslims if Trump enacts a registry.

While I like the idea behind the move to impeach Trump, I’d like to remind those behind it that success would only lead to President Mike Pence, who, in many ways, is just as bad if not worse.

I would recommend aligning anti-Trump protests with other groups fighting against the things that this incoming President stands for. Solidarity with the #NODAPL protesters, for example, would be a great first step.

Politicians, other people and the mainstream media not taking Trump seriously during the Primaries and the General Election is what got us here. We can’t afford not to take the threat of a Trump Presidency seriously now. It’s time to fight.

 

Protests, like potholes, are a year-round occurance in Montreal. The economy is in the toilet, tuition costs are on the rise, and Prime Minister Trudeau has turned his back on the young people whose coattails he rode into office.

Young people voted for Trudeau hoping that he would help stabilize employment in Canada only to be told to get used to temporary, low paying jobs without benefits. Quebeckers voted for Philippe Couillard hoping to do away with the Parti Québecois’ message of aggressive xenophobic secularism and language issues only to find the provincial government raising the language and signage disputes people are sick of. Municipal austerity measures are coming at the expense of the pensions our blue collar workers worked so hard for.

Votes don’t seem to count anymore and the cynicism pushed by bitter columnists is proving true. With the government ignoring the reason they were voted into office, people are forcing the government to listen by taking to the streets.

Everyone from students to cops to healthcare workers to Native leaders are taking to the streets with pickets, hoping to have their voices heard. Like the potholes, the City of Montreal has a pathetic track record of dealing with protests, reverting to persecution rather than reasonable negotiation. To our elected officials, protesters are not frustrated human beings with legitimate concerns but noisemakers and disruptors.

Laws Used Against Protesters

With the cops using their authority to assault people desperate to be heard, it’s time to look at the laws the government uses and overuses to suppress dissenters.

Let’s start with the Canadian Criminal Code.

Protesters are commonly charged with assault, harassment, mischief, unlawful assembly, and obstructing police officers. Since I addressed mischief in my piece on Devil’s Night, let’s look at the rest.

Assault is defined as applying force directly or indirectly to another person without their consent. The penalty is up to five years in prison unless the person is tried on summary conviction, which carries a lesser penalty. If a weapon is used in the assault, the penalty increases to a maximum of ten years, or if tried on summary conviction, a minimum of eighteen months. Since the definition of assault is so vague, it can range from hitting or kicking, to simply pushing and shoving.

Harassment is the act of engaging in conduct that would make a person feel harassed, which includes following them, repeatedly communicating with them, and watching their workplace. As protests often occur in front of government buildings where elected officials work, and repeated communication is the only way they feel they can be heard, it is far too easy for those ignoring them to call it harassment. Harassment is a serious charge, with a maximum penalty of ten years in prison, and its broad definition bears the risk of overuse.

Unlawful Assembly is when three or more people get together for a common purpose and their group causes the surrounding neighborhood to fear a disturbance of the peace. Unfortunately many protests, even peaceful, are noisy. An unlawful assembly charge, which fortunately only runs the risk of a summary conviction, is applied willy nilly by authorities to punish protesters.

Obstructing a police officer is a charge that became popular against protesters this past summer when people stormed the National Energy Board (NEB) hearings to voice their dissent against the proposed Energy East pipeline. To be convicted of this charge, the prosecution has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a person resisted, willfully obstructed, or did not assist a public or peace officer in the execution of his or her duties. The penalty is up to two years in prison unless there is a summary conviction.

Protesters are also punished with municipal bylaws.

The municipal bylaw used to punish protesters is bylaw P-6, formally called the “By-law concerning the prevention of breaches of the peace, public order and safety, and the use of public property”.

The bylaw was added to by former Mayor Gerald Tremblay in 2012 following the massive student protests against tuition hikes. Article 2.1 of the bylaw requires assemblies, parades, or gatherings in public places to disclose their itineraries to authorities prior to the event. Article 3.2 of the bylaw makes it illegal for protesters to cover their faces with a scarf or hood without a reasonable motive.

Both of these articles were ruled unconstitutional by Judge Chantal Masse of the Superior Court on June 22, 2016, following a successful challenge by Julien Villeneuve, a CEGEP professor who attended the protests in a panda costume.

Laws that Protect Protesters

We know about the laws used to punish protesters. Now let’s talk briefly about the laws meant to protect them and all of us.

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms entrenched in our constitution guarantees freedom of thought, opinion, and expression. It guarantees freedom of peaceful assembly, and freedom of association. It also guarantees the right against arbitrary detention. In spite of this, protesters are arrested left and right and their protests, no matter how peaceful, are punished as being unlawful.

Then there’s the Quebec Charter, a quasi-constitutional law entrenched in Quebec legislation. Like the Canadian Charter, it guarantees freedom of assembly and association.

Our criminal laws are also in place to protect, yet they are used to suppress protesters not keep them safe. Police officers who act prematurely by shooting rubber bullets and smashing people with batons rarely see any consequences for their actions, confirming the protesters’ belief that they are there to persecute, not protect.

Protests may be a public nuisance but they are a necessary one. As long as the government refuses to listen to the people who elected them, the protests will continue. As long as people feel voiceless, they will take to the streets to make sure they are heard.

For every time the government betrays the ones who voted for them, hundreds pickets will spring up. The act of listening and communication is the key to most conflict resolution. If politicians want the protesting to stop, they have to start listening.

* Featured image by Cem Ertekin

« We believe you » : that was the cry chanted again and again at the rally against rape culture in Montreal on Wednesday. Over a thousand people gathered in the Émilie-Gamelin Park around 5:30 pm despite the freezing temperature.

Several people spoke on a small stage before the group marched through Quartier des Spectacles and Place des Arts. The night ended at Club Soda with a mixture of speeches, testimonies and performances by popular and emerging artists.

Similar events took place in Québec, Sherbrooke, Trois-Rivières, Gatineau, Chicoutimi and Saguenay.

Denunciation and solidarity

The demonstration was equal parts an act of denunciation and solidarity. Denunciation of the acts of sexual aggression recently exposed by the media and of the subsequent victim-blaming that surfaced.  (“Comparing women to cars? Fuck You Éric Duhaime” read one of the signs.)

It was also a broader denunciation of a culture that claims gender equality as a core principle while routinely allowing – even encouraging-  disrespect of women’s rights to consent and to bodily autonomy.

Just as importantly, the event was a show of solidarity for all women and support for all victims. “We believe you” protesters shouted to Alice Paquet, the young woman who recently went public about Liberal MNA Gerry Sklavounos raping her. “We believe you” they chanted to the students of Université Laval assaulted last week. “We believe you” they assured the shocking number of women in the park who raised their hands at the question “who here, has ever been sexually assaulted?”

More generous estimates report a crowd of 2000 people. While young adults remained the dominant group, people from all ages, ranging from young families to the elderly, were present. The number of men was not too far below the number of women. Several speakers expressed appreciation for their presence and support.

After various speeches, indigenous singers sent off the crowd with a traditional music number. The march lasted about an hour and a half. It ended with protesters forming a wide circle around Indigenous performers at Place des Arts. At the artists’ insistence, people joined hands and danced to the sound of traditional native songs.

A smaller group continued marching under much closer police supervision.  Protesters mockingly imitated the heavy rhythmic steps often used by riot police as an intimidation tactic and chanted jeering slogans about Bylaw P6 being declared unconstitutional, but the protest remained peaceful. The police stayed as an escort and no major intervention was reported.

Safia Nolin, Queen Ka and other artists on stage

Meanwhile, organizers and many protesters converged on Club Soda for a post-protest show. The event was organized by a group of women from different backgrounds.

Among them were reporter Sue Montgomery, known for starting the trending hashtag #beenrapedneverreported on Twitter, and Tanya Saint-Jean, co-founder of the Montreal collective Je Suis Indestructible, as well as militant authors Natasha Kanapé Fontaine and Léa Clermont-Dion. After their speeches, the crowd was treated to a high quality music shoanti-rape-culture-march-montreal-december-26-2016-2w.

First came the Buffalo Hat Singers, a contemporary Powwow band that provided a nice continuity with the protest’s ambiance. Then followed widely popular female artists Safia Nolin and the Sisters Boulay. They each provided a solid performance of their own before uniting for a song.

Sabrina Halde (Groenland) and Laurence Nerbonne were also featured. Slammer Queen Ka notably delivered a brilliant poem about rape culture that she said she wrote the same morning.

A few artists hinted that they’d had minimal preparation and openly admitted to being nervous, but it didn’t hurt the show. What was missing in sophistication was more than compensated for in authenticity.

Stéphanie Boulay’s spoken text about her personal experience with rape culture and Safia Nolin’s spontaneous anecdote about a driving teacher with wandering hands contributed to a general feeling of intimacy with the public.

The night ended with an open mic.  Anyone who wanted to was invited on stage to share experiences, poems and anything they wanted about rape culture.

“The fight will be intersectional or it will not be”

That’s what the humorous duo Les Brutes said when they introduced the open-mic segment of the show. It was a prevalent theme of the event.

Intersectionality is an academic concept according to which the fight against one type of oppression must intersect with fights against other types of oppression. The failure to integrate this concept in past feminist movements has lead them to focus on the rights of cis, abled, white women.

The organizers of Thursday’s event did their best to address the compounded vulnerability of disabled women, trans women and women of colour.  A special effort was made for the event to be as inclusive as possible.

Both the protest and the show were held in wheelchair accessible places and a sign language interpreter was present at all times. One even masterfully translated the entire performances in Club Soda. Organizers also acknowledged Indigenous issues on several occasions, starting by recognizing they were standing on unsurrendered Mohawk grounds.

That effort was greatly appreciated by two young indigenous women who spoke to FTB after the show.

“I had the impression that there was decent representation, with native presence and Natasha Kanapé Fontaine, who is an excellent  spokesperson, especially for indigenous people,” said the first.

Her friend underlined however, the importance of also having events with native women as a soul focus.

According to Statistics Canada, one out of three women has been assaulted at least once since turning 16. 40% of women with physical handicaps will be assaulted at least once in their life. 75% of indigenous girls will be sexually assaulted before they turn 18. A 2014 government report estimated that only 5% of all sexual assaults are reported to the police.

It happened. Justin Trudeau has gone from the Selfie Prime Minister to the Photobombing PM. At least that’s what it seemed like yesterday.

He was speaking (and I use that term liberally, he really didn’t get to talk much) at a Youth Labour Forum in Ottawa. Most of the assembled crowd, though, seemed less interested in Trudeau’s platitudes then they were in speaking up on his inaction or potentially wrong action on several fronts.

They were upset over what his signing onto the Trans-Pacific Partnership would mean for their job prospects and the effects of “precarious work” which Trudeau said is now a fact of life. They also challenged Trudeau on his broken election promises, saying “we don’t have dialogue with liars.”

At one point, a group of attendees literally turned their backs on the PM because they felt he had turned his back on them. This led to the image you see at the top where it looks very much like Trudeau is an unwanted part of the photo.

Overall, it hasn’t been a great couple of weeks for Trudeau. On Monday, about 200 protesters showed up on Parliament Hill upset with the prospect of our Prime Minister approving the Kinder-Morgan Pipeline. Close to 100 of them were arrested.

Last week, just after celebrating one year in office, Trudeau made the argument that the fact that he won the last election meant electoral reform was no longer urgently needed. The irony of this stance wasn’t lost on many, including Hill Times cartoonist Michael De Adder:

trudeau-rigged-system-trump-cartoon

Trudeau Had a Long Honeymoon

Up until a few weeks ago, things had been running real smoothly for our PM. Sure, there were attacks, but most of the ones which garnered major media attention came from the right and were over ridiculous things like him posing for shirtless selfies or progressive things like an MP (who has since passed away) trying to make the lyrics to O Canada gender-neutral.

The only time the NDP made a go at him that garnered mass coverage, it failed. It was supposed to be about his strongarm political tactics, but it ended up being about the physical movements of his actual arm, or elbow, when in Parliament.

That’s not to say there weren’t valid progressive reasons to criticize Trudeau over the past year. This self-proclaimed feminist let the previous Harper Government’s arms sale to Saudi Arabia go through and even relaxed our policy to make it possible.

Meanwhile, the Trudeau Government’s attempts to “modernize” the National Energy Board have amounted to nothing more than committees studying problems with no concrete action. The NEB, of course being the organization that Harper had chosen to evaluate pipeline proposals after abolishing the Environmental Assessment Agency.

So, progressive criticisms of Trudeau, until recently, have been focused on Harper policies that the Liberal Government has been ineffective in getting rid of. Not nearly enough to ruin Trudeau’s mainstream progressive cred at home, given the fact that his government has made some significant improvements on what the previous administration was doing.

It also hasn’t been anywhere close to something that could spoil his rep abroad. I constantly see Facebook friends living in the US and other countries as well as foreign progressive media jealously praising our Prime Minister and wishing he could be their head of state.

I always want to burst the bubble, but then think better of it, because at least his rhetoric is better than what 90% of politicians they have to deal with spout. Fortunately, Jesse Chase wasn’t as cautious when he wrote about Canada and our superstar PM in The Guardian.

While I don’t think Trudeau’s honeymoon with the world will end anytime soon, especially given the nastiness in the US Presidential Election, his sunny ways love-in with progressive Canadians may be about to come to an end. The downfall started when when he clearly stated that a $15/hr minimum wage was not a currrent goal of his administration.

Think about that for a second. This is now part of the official Democratic Party platform in the US. Sure, Bernie Sanders forced the issue and pushed Hillary Clinton in that direction, and there’s no proof that she will actually fight for it if elected. But if a corporate centrist running to be leader of a centre-right country can be cajoled into running on a $15/hr minimum wage, then what business does the self-billed progressive global heartthrob leader of a centre-left country have in rejecting it?

It was a long honeymoon for Trudeau, but is it now really over, or at least ending? Does the Emperor now really have no clothes, and not in a fun shirtless selfie kinda way? Maybe.

Dear Mr. Prime Minister

Now, I’d like to shift gears and speak directly to our Prime Minister Justin Trudeau:

Dear Mr. Prime Minister,

Take a look around you, sir. The people turning their back (literally) on you and the people being arrested for getting a little too close to your place of business aren’t Conservatives. They aren’t even jaded lefties like me who vote NDP, sometimes while holding our noses because the leader is not progressive enough.

These are your people. People who voted for you in hopes that you would change things. They wanted to get rid of Harper and his rhetoric, which you have done, but, most importantly, they wanted to throw his policies away, too, and you, sir, have failed to do that.

Does your feminism include arms sales to Saudi Arabia because it’s 2016? Are Kinder-Morgan and Harper’s NEB part of your sunny ways? Have you given up on improving the condition of workers in this country? Can you really use your government’s popularity as an excuse to backpedal on electoral reform when that popularity seems to be waning, or rather plummeting, among former ardent supporters?

I’ll admit I was skeptical of you from the start and I’m sad to report that you have justified my skepticism. I’m a lost cause for you, but it’s not too late, though, for you to win back your former voters and live up to the false impression many have of you. It’s not that hard, either.

Just make your policies match your rhetoric and you can continue the honeymoon until the next election. Otherwise, the honeymoon’s over and things are gonna be kinda awkward before they’re downright unpleasant.

With Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre’s proposed ban on new pit bulls set for a vote in September, opponents of Breed-Specific Legislation (BSL) just caught a glimpse at how it may be defeated: through public outcry and protest. At least that seems to have done the trick in Quebec City for the moment.

Mayor Régis Labeaume had planned to get rid of all pit bulls in Quebec City by 2017, period. This was a much harsher move than Montreal’s plan to bar new pit bulls from the island and license and muzzle those that are already here.

Today, dozens (according to the CBC) of Quebec City dog owners and supporters protested outside of City Hall. Just a few hours later, Labeaume said that he had only been trying to start debate on the issue.

“We won’t eliminate pit bulls,” the mayor told the press, “we wanted to hit hard so things would move.”

Now, he seems content to wait for the results of a provincial workgroup on the idea of a province-wide pit bull ban. So pit bull owners in Quebec City and their beloved companions aren’t out of the proverbial woods yet, but the imminent, harsh law is off the table for now.

So is Montreal’s proposed ban also a fakeout designed to gauge public opinion? If so, then he Global Anti-BSL Peaceful Protest on July 16th is a good thing for opponents of Coderre’s ban to attend. In Montreal, it starts in Parc Pélican and makes its way to Parc Lafontaine.

Seeing as the Quebec City ban and the one in Montreal were both created in response to public fear, vocal public opposition may be the way to eliminate them and influence the Couillard Government not to pass one in the first place.

* You can also still vote in FTB’s poll on the Montreal Pit Bull Ban Poll.

* Featured image: Radio-Canada

In 2012, at the height of the Quebec Student Protests (Maple Spring), Montreal Mayor Gerald Tremblay’s administration amended Municipal Bylaw P-6 to include a ban on covering your face at public demonstrations and a requirement that protest organizers provide an itinerary. This effectively allowed Montreal Police (SPVM) to enforce Jean Charest’s controversial (and now defunct) Provincial Bill 78 without actually enforcing it.

This lead, of course, to more protest. Protest for the right to protest freely without first having to ask permission which had been taken away by these amendments. Kettling became a frequent SPVM tactic to end marches, sometimes just moments after they began.

Photo by Cem Ertekin
Photo by Cem Ertekin

Anarchopanda (the protest character of Julien Villeneuve) decided to challenge the bylaw amendments in a court of law as well. He argued that they were an unconstitutional violation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms which impeded freedom of speech and peaceful assembly. Today, four years later, the Quebec Superior Court agreed with him.

In its ruling, the court declared that Article 3.2, which barred anyone participating in an assembly or procession in a public space from covering their face without a “reasonable excuse,” was excessive, unreasonable and arbitrary. They also ruled that Article 2.1, which bars anyone from assembling in and/or marching through public space without first providing authorities with a route, could only be applied in cases where the march hampered automobile traffic and was inoperative when it came to spontaneous demonstrations.

In a press release posted to his Facebook page, Anarchopanda, who was represented in this case by Sibel Ataogul and Marie-Claude St-Amant of the Association des juristes progressistes, called for the immediate withdrawal of charges on all pending P-6 cases. A large number of P-6 cases had been previously thrown out due to the way the SPVM had enforced the bylaw.

Anarchopanda concluded his press release by saying he hopes “the SPVM will reform its practices to ensure respect for the constitutional rights of protestors.”

* Featured image from Anarchopanda via Facebook

The Montreal Grand Prix is always noisy. First, there are the rather loud Formula 1 engines revving on Ile Notre-Dame at the event itself on Sunday. Then there are the street parties all weekend on a blocked off Crescent and more recently lower Saint-Laurent as well. And, of course, there are the protests.

As in previous years, people will be out in force against the hyper-capitalism intrinsic to the event. One of the things many protesters argue the F1 promotes, including those who put together this Critical Mass event, is sexual exploitation and human trafficking.

Montreal-based sex workers’ rights organization Stella is, of course, also against sexual exploitation and human trafficking, but feels that during the Grand Prix, sex work is unfortunately conflated with trafficking in quite a bit of the protest messaging. They have launched a social media poster campaign to counter this perception.

In a press release, they argue that:

“(The Grand Prix) brings with it exaggerated and unfounded claims of an increase in human trafficking, and youth and sexual exploitation. In more recent years it has also resulted in increased police repression and surveillance of people working in the sex industry and our clients. Amidst this flurry of attention, sex workers in Montreal are placed at greater risk of violence as they undertake working practices to avoid police detection, that put our security at risk.”

– Stella press release

This evokes a similar style to that used by Femen’s Grand Prix protests: topless women with messages written on their bodies. What’s different with Stella’s campaign is that the women’s faces and nipples are covered and the messages are against the criminalization of sex work, a.k.a. prohibition.

(* Ed’s note: We mentioned Femen just so it was clear that this campaign wasn’t at all the same as that group’s stunt at last year’s Grand Prix, but Stella made quite a good and correct point: “Is it our campaign that is reminiscent of Femen’s or is it Femen who appropriates our culture and fails to recognize the work of all the sex workers who have been pioneers of toplessness and of using breasts to subvert patriarchy?”)

Will this campaign help change the messaging of anti-Grand Prix protests? Given some of the comments already on event pages that argue against lumping sex work in with exploitation and trafficking, it’s possible that it could tip the balance by giving those comments a unified voice.

Will this campaign get lost in the shuffle? Given the huge amount of attention paid to the Grand Prix as well as the multitude of divergent protests, that is possible as well.

One thing is for sure: the Grand Prix will be at least a little louder this year.

You can read more about the Stella campaign on their site and Facebook page