Saturday, January 23, 2010

Notes On T.O. Anti-Prorogation Demonstration

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?


Northern PoV said...

Other reports suggest between 7K and 15k in Toronto.

I was in Vancouver and the march seemed big to me - several thousand at least.

we drifted away from the post march rally after the second boring speech that went on and on.... from people we never heard of

Oxford County Liberals said...

I dont know BCL. Ian Capstick at his blog also has Toronto crowd estimates, and the police estimate was 7000, while organizers are saying 15K.. Steve Paiken accroding to one fellow at my blog who ran into him est. 10 000. Methinks you'd better check that glasses prescription. ;)

bigcitylib said...

Yeah, I can't believe that. Basically, there was a stage on the back part of the square, and the available portion of the square was packed to Yonge street, with a scattering of people on the street. You could probably do an estimate of how many people that could possibly be by calculating the square footage of the available space. I could see me (and Uranowski, with whom I discussed this) being wrong by a factor of 2, maybe. But 15 K is nutz and 7k is nutz.

Oxford County Liberals said...

Well, the police I believe are estimating that on the # of ppl that Dundas Square can reportedly hold as a maximum (8000). Thats where they got their #. The organizers believed it to be bigger.. and Paiken, who has no reason to inflate #'s, said 10K... so I'm inclined to believe their #'s.

bigcitylib said...

Again, you could probably calculate what the number could possibly be by looking at the space available on the 1,000 feet between Dundas and Queen. I also checked it out between Dundas and Shuter when the march stopped for a light. That was very crowded.

Anonymous said...

When I got back to Younge-Dundas I watched people pass and though it seemed like less when we were in the crowd I'd be willing to believe the 7000 that the police estimated.

bigcitylib said...

10 K is bullshit. I saw Paiken at about 12:30 ish, when the square was not near full. Didn't see him afterwards.

CTV put it at about a thousand, I hear.

Oxford County Liberals said...

NO surprise CTV would low-ball it (CTV Toronto I understand), though I also understand Craig Oliver praised the Ottawa rally for the #'s that came out.. so you take what you get.

Global National, ironically, led its lead story with the rallies, while others didn't.

D said...

My estimates of the Waterloo rally were around 350 but I've heard/read of up to 500-600.

I wish I could have been at the Toronto rally, but, the KW crowd was (I can only imagine) just as vibrant and passionate.

fern hill said...

Toronto Sun said 7,000. So.

The sound system seriously sucked.

The march was fun. I and the people I was with were near the front (having been near the back at Dundas Square), so we stepped off (to smoke) for a few minutes and watched the people pass.

This word is not normally in my lexicon -- but it was Awesome.

I was at the Imperial, well the Library, afterwards. Where were you?

bigcitylib said...


I wandered in there briefly. Didn't recognize anyone.

Ted Betts said...


That was moi who spoke with Paiken, after the rally turned into a march. He did indeed estimate that it was 10,000 and that he was "blown away" by the event.

That would have been my estimate and it seems consistent with the estimate of most others who were there.

Regardless, it was way way more than the organizers expected. We had thought 3,000 maybe 4,000 if the weather held.

Estimates of 25,000 across the whole country.

Mark Richard Francis said...

Runesmith, JimBobby, JJedras and me were there too. Libarts was there, I hear, with Impolitical.

I was way in the back. My sign was liked: "HEY HARPER: GO RECALIBRATE YOURSELF"

Ti-Guy said...

Just one word about crowd sizes. Pick an estimate and go with it. Repeat it often and everywhere. Debating it is pointless. Individuals in a crowd or even close to a crowd are *incapable* of making guesses that are anywhere near correct.

It's surprising how small a crowd of 1000 people is. A crowded subway car is 200 people, for example.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like the usual hodge-podge assortment of anti-anything leftoid socialist complaining victimized losers went for nice little walk.

Very entertaining.

Oxford County Liberals said...

I see Fred's making his rounds of the Prog/Liberal blogs today.

What's a matter Fred? You're sure taking the time to troll a lot of blogs if you think it wasn't a big deal.

Jon Dursi said...

The RCMP estimates of the Ottawa event was 3k, and looking at the pictures, the Toronto event was clearly larger. I had guestimated 3k when I was in there before the march, but trying to guess these things from inside the croud is pretty unlikely to get you accurate numbers.

If the Dundas square people say maximum capacity is 8k, I would take that to be the end of it; clearly it was nearly full and resumably they know how many people can fit in that space...

bigcitylib said...

Ted, heard the interview with your son(?) this morning. Watch that one; I suspect he'll hit 18 and go green on you.

Ted Betts said...

You heard the clip? That's great. We weren't sure they would play it. And other than knowing the interviewer was from "CBC Radio" we weren't sure where to find out. Where and when did you hear it?

You can respond here or send me an email at tedbetts (at)


Scanner said...

The "actual count" is a mugs game best played by idiots from the right. The turkey from 1010 morning show said he "wouldn't have to eat crow because the numbers weren't impressive" (read him here - me, I'm not impressed by any of our "journalists" I saw Coyne sniffing at the mob at the start of the event. Wow, what a bad dye-job he has. Who really cares if it was 3000 or 10,000 - Stephen Harper couldn't draw that many if he gave out free puppies