October 29, 2008

Stop Harper!

Anti-Conservative demonstration draws crowd

by Ion Etxebarria

Protestors fight for their right to (arts) party.
PHOTO Ion Etxebarria

Thousands of people banded together and marched in the streets of Montreal to call electors to vote against the Conservative Party last Sunday.

A broad coalition representing collectives on the Arts, Feminist, Anti-War, Trade Union, Environmental, First Nations, Human Rights and Social Rights movements portrayed Harper's mandate as a "big leap backwards" and urged electors via spokesperson and actor Emmanuel Bilodeau to "say yes to environment, yes to culture, yes to peace and social justice by voting any party except the Conservative Party," adding "We just want a government that does not embarrass us."

Francois Saillant, coordinator of the housing rights collective Front d'action populaire en réménagment urbain, warned of the risk of a future conservative majority government.

"We have seen what conservatives can do as minority," Saillant said. "I think it will be a disaster if we give them the power to do whatever they want."

Among the crowd, two demonstrators in polar bear costumes waved signs for voteforenvironment.ca, an environmentalist website whose objective is to monitor voting tendencies in electoral ridings—a strategy for the candidate with the biggest chance to defeat the conservative counterpart to win.

The president of the Quebec Women's Federation, Michèle Asselin, criticized the conservatives' cuts on childcare funding and the proposed legislation challenging women's abortion rights.

Ghislain Picard, Chief of the Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador, broke a traditional position of the First Nations—maintaining distance between themselves and the federal election debate—by describing the conservatives as the "the most oppressive and colonialist government ever."

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