Over 200 protesters objecting to the federal government's enthusiastic support for Alberta's tar sands and the Keystone pipeline XL were arrested Monday morning as they attempted to stage a sit-in in the House of Commons.
The protesters wanted the chance to air their grievances with the environmentally reckless policies of the Harper-led Conservatives inside Parliament but were blocked from entering by fenced barricades and over 50 RCMP officers.
The protesters were encouraged by hundreds of boisterous supporters as they passed the media scrum and calmly hopped over police barricades.
For Immediate Release
Ottawa. Thursday, December 2, 2010 - In a surprise move yesterday evening in the House of Commons, the New Democratic Party secured an extended debate, of up to five hours, on the highly controversial Bill C-474 on genetically engineered (GE) crops, currently in third reading.
"We are very excited that, for the first time, all members of parliament will have the chance to participate in a substantive debate on genetic engineering," said Lucy Sharratt, co-ordinator of the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network. "In our 15 year history with this technology, a five-hour debate in the House of Commons on genetic engineering is unprecedented."
The boorish behaviour now so typical in Parliament has contributed greatly to Canadians' disenchantment with federal politics. It's not surprising that we're regularly asked what can be done to make the House of Commons more serious and relevant to our lives.
But it ought to be possible, even if it's not happening now, for Parliament to do what it's meant to do: to act as the country's main public forum of debate, reflecting the diversity of Canadians as indicated by the way they vote, and to do this with both passion and civility.
Wendy Cukier is the president of the Coalition for Gun Control (CGC) and a professor at Ryerson University in Toronto. The CGC is an alliance of more than 300 policing, public safety and violence prevention organizations including the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, Canadian Public Health Association, and YWCA of Canada. The coalition was founded after the Montreal Massacre in 1989, when 14 women were shot to death and 13 more were injured at the École Polytechnique de Montréal.