So, I had dreamed that I would arrive at this thing and wind up alone, surrounded by un-waved placards and trying to explain to CBC why the event sucked ass so bad. Fortunately, that dream did not come to pass. For although at noon when I first cruised by the Yonge-Dundas Square there wasn’t much happening, by start time a pretty good crowd had gathered, despite the cold weather, and when the march finally kicked off demonstrators stretched from Dundas to Queen street, the road thick (like being on a very crowded sidewalk) with people the whole way. Totally non-scientifically, I would estimate the crowd as being in the high 100s, maybe touching a thousand, maybe a bit shy of that.
So good on the organizers; they sure beat my expectations.
There was a definite orange tint to the crowd. It looks as though our NDP brethren put the “machine” to work; lots of “Stand up to Harper” signs, and CUPE banners, for example. Good on them. There was also a small Green Party contingent, but no official or semi-official Liberal Party presence as far as I could tell (although see below).
And there wasn’t anything too awful in the way of “message creep”. For the most part the placards and chants and attitude were on point.
Just to catalogue the funny stuff:
There was an anti-tar sands banner with a clever, oil-black T-Rex painted on it. There was an international Bolshevik that wanted to abolish the monarchy. There was someone with a sign that had a skull painted on it, an inevitable 911 truther, a couple of black nationalists distributing speeches by Farrakhan across the street, and a guy handing out tickets to some kind of Israel Apartheid thing. No matter what you might think of this last guy’s message, though, he had a really impressive Mohawk-type creation with unshorn locks that fell to his shoulders. (As an aside, Why do all the weirdos have great hair?) There was a stage, and a strong NDP flavor to the speeches given there, as far as I could make out. Luckily, the sound system wasn’t terribly powerful and nobody could really hear their Socialist prattling. And oh yes the same three guys selling competing Marxist -Leninist papers that I saw at the Labour Day Parade were out again. I swear they’re the same three guys I saw on Yonge Street back in 1986 when I first moved to T.O.
And speaking of hair, I got within 10 feet of Gerard Kennedy himself, looking elegantly sexxxy in what I remember as being a dark duffle-coat type thingy. Now, personally, I think he should wear his hair longer. I know that Iggy is trying to get the Libs to project a more professional demeanor, but you don’t waste a head of hair like Gerard’s. His hair is 100% shock-and-awe, and if the Libs sent it on a cross country speaking tour in the run up to the next election they’d pick up two or three seats on that basis alone.
Anyway, I don’t think Mr. Kennedy got up on stage and spoke, but I may be wrong about that.
As for the march itself… it was a march. I don’t much like them as I get a bit dizzy in crowds, but on the upside we did have a piper (bag pipes, in full uniform, probably frozen stiff under that kilt), and many of the young college girls in the crowd looked quite hot, although it’s hard to be sure when they’re all wearing parkas. But the day was chill, so when the actual march ended the crowd dissipated fairly quickly (leaving behind several unappreciated gals making some very good bluesy/folky music on stage, unfortunately).
And I didn’t meet too many other bloggers. I hung with Joseph Uranowski of The Equivocator for most of the event, and saw Ricky of Queer Thoughts at a distance, I think, but didn’t get a chance to talk. Impolitical, buddy, where were you? I heard you was coming and looked everywhere. I was the guy in the dark-colored winter jacket with a hood.
Anyway, a successful protest. Looks like some impact through the media too. In the bar I am writing this post in, one of the regs just told a joke about politics being “prorogued”. So I am sure this story will be in the news after tomorrow, which is the important thing.
PS. 3,000 people? Is my math so bad?