As a former Torontonian living in Montreal for the past eight years, I am very disturbed to see
the pot-bangers in Toronto, marching in support of the boycotting students of Quebec (who are not in any legal sense "on strike"). My question to them is: What are you really supporting?
When the students did not get all their demands, rather than follow democratic processes like
the rest of us -- namely to wait for elections to vote the government out -- they resorted to mob rule.
They have intimidated and harassed students who have not boycotted classes (which is the majority of Quebec's students). They have repeatedly shut down major arteries day after day, causing great financial loss to many shop owners and causing travel nightmares for the general population.
Parents say their children can't sleep at night due to all the noise on the streets, so their kids are going to school without enough sleep. International students, many of whom make huge sacrifices to study here, have lost part of their year. Signs are already appearing that tourism will take a significant hit this summer, costing income and jobs. Yet the boycotters do not care what harm they cause others. Their attitude is "You have to respect my rights, but I don't have to respect yours."
They say the new emergency law, Bill 78, that requires demonstrators to give the police a map
of their route eight hours in advance, is an infringement on their right of free assembly. Nonsense. I was involved in a series of marches a number of years ago in downtown Montreal, in which the organizers worked with police weeks in advance. This was out of concern for those who would be affected by these marches -- those for whom parking, travel or business would be inconvenienced.
This is simple courtesy to the people we share our city with. But courtesy to others is a concept unknown to the boycotters. The boycotters say they want to bring about a new vision for Quebec society. This is their vision? Please keep it out of Canada.
We have one of the great countries of the world in part because we have learned to manage our differences within democratic processes, while living peaceably -- if grudgingly at times -- with the recognition that none of us get everything we want from these processes. What, then, would happen if we all behaved the way the boycotters are behaving with every law we didn't like? Society would be a dysfunctional wreck.
The boycotters, though, don't seem to get this. They seem to think their cause is superior, so it is okay for them to cause such havoc. So to the Toronto marchers I ask: What is it about the boycotters you are supporting? Their assumption that their cause is more important than other causes? Their view that they can harass and intimidate those who disagree with them?
Their view that everyone has to respect their supposed rights, but that they don't have to respect the rights of others? Their view that they can cause economic harm and social inconvenience to society, while society has to support their economic demands? Their view that they are above the normal democratic processes that have built this nation, and that the rest of us abide by?
Please, Toronto pot-bangers, put your time and effort into marching for a real cause, like the
living conditions in many of our aboriginal communities, or child poverty, or domestic abuse, or human trafficking. There are so many real causes out there that need your support.