May wasn’t expecting the Queen
The usual sea of red Liberal T-shirts in Toronto’s Pride Parade was diminished by a sea of purple T-shirts on Liberals backing former Ontario Liberal cabinet minister George Smitherman, who is running for Toronto mayor. Liberal MPs marching in this year’s parade included Bob Rae, Carolyn Bennett and Rob Oliphant. All helped carry a giant Canadian flag; Rae and Bennett also carried Israeli flags in solidarity with members of the Jewish community who were upset over the parade entry Queers Against Israeli Apartheid. Armed with giant water guns, Belinda Stronach rode with Rick Mercer on top of the Canadian Foundation for AIDS Research truck. The boldest statement at the parade was made by gay media publisher Brandon Matheson, who dragged a man dressed in riot police gear down the street on a leash, an homage to the G20. With Green Leader Elizabeth May in her rickshaw was a recent new member of the Green party, a drag queen wearing a “Queen Mum” sash. May had been told only to “expect royalty.” While Queen Elizabeth II was in Toronto at the time, May notes “I knew [Her Majesty] was not going to show up.” May will be back in Toronto for the Green party’s biannual convention in August. Because the party’s current rules mandate a fixed four-year term for its leader, it has to decide whether it will announce a 2010 leadership race at the convention. May says the feeling is a race would be silly now considering the strong possibility of an election within a year. May says several Green party rules need to be updated now that the goal is to get Greens elected, and not just be policy wonks.
MPs watching lots of YouTube?
Vancouver MP Don Davies, the NDP’s public safety critic, has spearheaded a push to have the standing committee on public safety and national security reconvene in order to look at the events that occurred in Toronto at the G20. “For a billion dollars we were led to believe there would be no violence and a respect for civil liberties,” says Davies, who had two of his constituents detained by police and allegedly roughed up after they were trying to raise awareness around public education. Also on the committee is MP Maria Mourani, the Bloc’s public safety critic. During the G20 she received calls from parents who could not find kids who had gone to Toronto to protest. Now she is getting calls from Quebecers who were in Toronto, complaining about such things as strip searches and being targeted because they were French. “It’s not finished,” says the MP. “More and more witnesses are coming forward. A lot of people feel very humiliated.” She says she has two of her staffers working full-time on post-G20 issues. Don Davies says social media have played a key role in the aftermath of the G20. “The issues have been kept alive and broadened by YouTube,” he notes. Depending on the route chosen by the public safety committee, Davies says he foresees watching a lot of videos, not common in a committee used to just oral testimony. “I think the videos will make it easier for us to investigate.” Davies also hopes to access footage taken by security cameras set up during the event. Davies notes auditor general Sheila Fraser will be looking at the G20 in the coming months.
Taking back the intersection
Large protests over alleged civil rights violations at the G20 continue in Toronto. On Saturday, people “took back” the intersection of Queen and Spadina, where riot police famously held people for hours in the rain. On July 17, Canadians Advocating Political Participation (CAPP) have rallies planned in three cities—Toronto, Ottawa and Vancouver. CAPP morphed from the group Canadians Against Proroguing Parliament. While the Toronto and Vancouver chapters have been active since the prorogation rallies, the Ottawa group has been resurrected in response to the recent events.