Some thoughts on the Vancouver Riots

I had the uneasy feeling during the whole run-up to the final NHL series with the Vancouver Canucks Professional, Corporate hockey team that there was way too much hype about these sports events somehow being more meaningful to Canadians than anything else. And it wasn’t just the corporate media – it was our national public broadcaster – whose news flagship – ‘The National’ – was ejected from its time slot for weeks in favour of covering a ‘kids game’. Not only that, but whenever ‘the National’ was on, especially toward the end, even the news was hijacked by non-news of the NHL – and then of course by the immediate coverage of the Vancouver riots – great for ratings. I was bothered by this hype for weeks even though I wouldn’t necessarily have predicted a riot after the last game. But in light of the hype, the riots make sense. When you are told over and over in the media that the whole meaning of your life comes from whether your professional team wins a game, then when they don’t win what have you got left? I think Canada which in many ways is an artificial construct – based on the expoitation of both the people who lived here first and of Canadian nature herself – is in big trouble. The real problems – are the floods and droughts in our mid-west, floods in Quebec, the dramatically increasing production of greenhouse gases – a major cause in Canada are the Tar Sands – which are helping cause this along with the melting of the arctic and destruction of a whole way of life, the attacks on working people, the unwillingness of the haves in our country, supported by successive federal governments, to share with the growing number of have-nots – I could go on.

I told my wife as we watched the riots, with smashed and looted shops, that this was at least led by young anti-capitalists, some of the same people who engaged in property damage just before the Olympics in Vancouver but who also had held protests in major cities across Canada including Toronto where I live. The Toronto event, probably in December 2009 had as its major chant – ‘No Olympics on Stolen Native Land’. We do have fine young people who understand what has been going on, and I know some who were arrested at gunpoint while they slept on the eve of the big G20 march last June in Toronto – and then spent several months in jail. I believe their message is that the people in this part of Turtle Island have been hijacked by corporate interests and some of them are not going to take it anymore – and if they have been too outspoken they have gone to jail and then had such restrictive bail conditions put on them that they are effectively silenced.

About Murray Lumley

Board member of Conscience Canada; Christian Peacemaker Teams Reservist; retired teacher; grandfather
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