We are the world


Man on the street reaction to yesterday’s Tamil protest in downtown Ottawa.

In Ottawa, the protesters were apologetic about snarling the Tuesday afternoon rush hour, but said they had no other choice. As buses lined the westbound Transitway behind the Rideau Centre, commuters were not so understanding.

“They want our help and they create chaos? It shouldn’t be allowed,” Sandy Craig said. “It angers me. I’m for helping people but there should be a better way.”

Bettina Serventi called the effort “immature.” “Why disrupt the city when you can do other things?” She said she didn’t “have a clue” about what was going on in Sri Lanka, but yesterday’s protest did not make her want to know.

Nathalie Bernard was just trying to get home after a long day of work. “It’s pissing me off,” she said as she stared at the buses. “I don’t care what they’re doing, they’re disrupting my sleep.”

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We are the world

  1. We in Ottawa are a caring bunch. Some people will die today in the conflict between Sri Lanka’s government and the Tamil Tigers, some will lose 30 minutes of sleep. Not for worry, but extra commute.

    My heart goes out too all the poor Ottawan’s who were victimized by this protest. You were practically hostages; pawns ready to have everything* taken away from them.

    *everything = delayed bus service for 30 minutes

    • Inconveniencing people who might not already have a position on the issue is a pretty bad way to garner sympathy, and an excellent way of promoting spiteful acquiescence with whatever the Sri Lankan government wants.

      • I agree, it’s totally counterproductive on the one hand.

        On the other however, people are talking about the situation again.

        If Canadians become more informed about the desire for a ceasefire, then I think their larger aim has been achieved.

        • I haven’t given a thought to Tamils for months or years. So you’re right that they’re on my mind.

          Unfortunately for them, they’re on my mind to the effect of now wanting the Sri Lankan government to crush the Tigers completely, in a way that makes future protests of this kind somewhat less likely.

        • I was one of those commuters who stood for over an hour in the snow to wait for a bus. Yeah, I was mad. And probably one of few who even knew what the protest was about (which was mostly due to my quick news search of the Tamil Tigers during my wait).

          The argument that it got people talking about the situation is pretty ridiculous. I overheard a lot of complaining commuters and very few seemed to know who the protestors were or why they were protesting. “Something to do with Sri Lanka, I think?” “Tigers or something?” All they cared about was that they didn’t have a permit to protest and shouldn’t be allowed to prevent people from getting home.

          Yes, it garned media coverage for people to learn more (theoretically) about the situation in Sri Lanka but when you piss people off by making them wait in the freezing cold for a bus ride home… I doubt they will embrace the opportunity to learn more.

      • But that’s probably what you wanted before. Look on the bright side: now you have an excuse.

    • That city’s a lot more parochial/rural Ontario than the rest of us are led to believe.

      If it can’t stand the heat, it has no business calling itself a capital. Let’s move it back to Kingston or Montreal.

      • Oh, JPT, do tell us all about how macho and stoic you’d be if a giant, boisterous rally of people supporting a known terrorist organization parked itself on your doorstep for a while. Ottawans have the same right to not be harassed by hooligans as anyone else.

        • Oh yes. Montreal. Widely known for its stoicism.

          And for wanting to be the Capital of Canada.


          It already is?


        • Stop crying. It’s over.

      • “That city’s a lot more parochial/rural Ontario than the rest of us are led to believe. If it can’t stand the heat, it has no business calling itself a capital.”

        Please. Ottawa tolerated a transit strike of two months while Toronto begged for back to work legislation because they couldn’t take the TTC home from the bar on Friday night. Do go on about how Ottawa and the rural folk are a bunch of wimps and whiners.

  2. People these days only care about themeselves, their sleep and their work (read as earning money)!
    They don’t care if people protest against violation of human rights…so many people suffer without food and a proper roof under which they can sleep and Western people always complain about the little things in life. It’s just pathetic to see…ofcourse no one will understand besides when their family or relatives are living in such conditions and fear for their life everyday.
    What else can those people do than to protest? Like the governments care about Sri Lanka, because it doesn’t have oil like Iraq does right? :)
    Western lifestyle is really absurd these days!

    • When are you leaving, Lora? You must have plans to move away from a country you so thoroughly loathe.

  3. ^That’s stupid. It’s not Canada’s war, nor should it become so. Should people shut down Jakarta’s transit system to protest Ottawa’s mistreatment of First Nations? It’s stupidity.

    • It’s been Canada’s war ever since this government declared the Tamil Tigers (LTTE) our enemy only two months after being sworn in.

    • right because we never intervene in any other country’s domestic issues right? and further, clearly tryint to solve this solely domestically, when your claim is that the domestic leadership of your country is purposeully marginalizing and even killing you, is a brilliant strategy.

  4. We are such wimps. If the Tamils had pulled this stunt in most other countries they would have been quickly arrested, forcefully if necessary. Everyone has a right to protest, but not to disrupt traffic.

    • Everyone has a right to protest, but not to disrupt traffic.

      And they shouldn’t talk loud either. And no ugly fashions. And no angry faces and certainly no pouting.

      I mean that’s the point of demonstrations…to make sure they are of no consequence whatsoever.

      • Exactly, yes. Otherwise, you cede the premise that anyone with a strongly held belief is entitled to do whatever they like to you, me or anyone else, on the strength of that belief.

        • right it is def all or nothing…. i mean we can’t possibly draw line between traffic delays or and murder or ‘whatever’ else they like that might be actually dangerous….

        • Otherwise, you cede the premise that anyone with a strongly held belief is entitled to do whatever they like to you, me or anyone else, on the strength of that belief.

          What does “cede the premise” mean?

    • It begs an interesting question — when Ottawa has the transitway running in tunnels, will protesters be allowed to block the trains? Is the problem only that the buses run above ground?

      • Ottawa will not have a transitway tunnel within the next 40 years. By then, public demonstrations will be a thing of the past.

          • Do you think even half the people between 15-40 have read the book? Can half that group even understand or read the book?

            A few points worth considering;

            -The coalition rally was the last time a protest converged over 1,000 ‘traditional’ Canadians (in this case white Anglos) that I can remember. It was quickly denounced as an unholy alliance that was against the constitution, with our elected officials in power quickly diseminating misinformation to the public
            – Before that, Montebello, where the only violence instigated was by an agency of the state
            – lowering standard of living
            – wider gap between rich/poor
            – decline of the middle class
            – increasing illiteracy
            – regional strife (the death of national parties)
            – increasing personal isolation
            – free trade agreements with countries with terrible human rights records
            – collapsing capitalism
            – new information collection powers (legal and illegal)
            – false inflation/unemployment rates
            – the disgrace that is the RCMP

            We aren’t close to being a 1984 society. We are significantly closer than even 10 years ago though, and gaining momentum.

    • “Everyone has a right to protest, but not to disrupt traffic.”

      Sez so specifically, right here in my Pocket Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The interesting debate in the ivory towers is whether the denial of the right to disrupt traffic is derived from an absolute right to free-flowing traffic, or from a more narrowly specified right to timely public transit.

      • “Life, liberty and the pursuit of buses.” We need a declaration of dependence, not a Charter of Rights and Freedoms — unless it’s the freedom to charter a ride.


        • Especially sf.

  5. A visceral hatred of the Canadian people.

  6. Although I feel.. moderately… bad for the people inconvenienced, I believe that the point of a protest is to, you know, protest. That is, get people’s attention.

    • Good idea. Next time instead of blocking traffic, they can slash tires. That will get peoples’ attention. Frankly, I think the point of a protest is to have an idea what you are protesting for. What exactly do they want the average Ottawa commuter to do? Grab an AK47, purchase a flight to the other side of the world and join in the melee in Sri Lanka?

      • What, sf, not even a single broken window? Can they have a Molotov cocktail, perchance?

        I suspect they want the “average Ottawa commuter” and media consumers to come to the realization that the Tamil Tigers are legitimate freedom fighters, and that it should be lawful for their supporters in Canada to shake down Tamil Canadians for cash to ferry over to the other side of the world. This law abiding display will undoubtedly convince the average commuter of the law-abiding nature of the supporters. Or something.

  7. Oh, for heaven’s sake. I was caught in the gridlock too — in a cab from the airport, which was a third again more expensive than it normally would have been, for the record — and was very nearly not able to rescue BlackBerry from PuppyJail out on Innes Road, but you know, this is Ottawa. We get annoyed, we gripe at streeter-conducting Citizen reporters, we move on.

    • And the last time Citizen reporters disrupted rush hour traffic downtown was…?

      Gridlock at rush hour is a public safety issue, and an environmental issue. These losers were breaking the law. Freedom of speech for one does not constitute an obligation to pay attention for the rest of us, and they imposed that on the good people of Ottawa without their consent. These bozos deserve punishment. That they offered support for a banned terrorist organization just makes it worse. But WHAT they were trying to say is irrelevant. You could agree entirely with their position, and STILL these creeps deserve harsher sanction than they will likely receive.

  8. Gotta love the way people import the problems of the world into Canada. Not that we should not be paying attention.

    But really, are these people protesting as concerned Canadians or as transplanted Sri Lankans? Their lack of respect for their fellow Canadians answers the question.

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