Let the Vélorution Begin

Please chip in to support rabble's election 2019 coverage. Support rabble.ca today for as little as $1 per month!

For four days, our 38-wheel rolling counter-summit of bikesheviks pedaled through the countryside towns and villages of Highway 138, between Montreal and Quebec City. We raised awareness about the Free Trade Area of the Americas and the impact it would have on the environment, on labour standards and on human rights. We also talked about the security overkill of "Fortress Quebec."

Now it seems that our message is finally getting through. Quebec Public Security Minister Serge Menard marvelled about the $100-million security price tag, saying that the money could have "created a lot of bike paths" for the provinces citizens.

We must add to that figure:

  • The $13 million that a NAFTA tribunal ordered the Canadian government to pay to Ethyl Corporation in compensation for its attempt to ban MMT (a carcinogenic gasoline additive).
  • The millions of dollars that will have to be paid in compensation to multinational PCB exporters in Canada).
  • The millions of dollars our health system will have to spend in order to treat cancer victims).
  • The incalculable environmental and human costs that we will bear collectively so that corporate "investors rights" can be protected.

Once we add up this larger price tag, we begin to realize that - by scrapping the FTAA, NAFTA and other investors rights agreements - we could build bike paths in every city, town and village across the Americas.

This is what the vélorution is all about. It is gratifying to see the Public Security Minister warming to our bikeshevist ideology. Unfortunately, the message has yet to filter down the chain of command.

Upon entering Quebec City on Highway 138, our merry band of vélorutionaries was stopped by some heavily armoured members of the province's finest. They demanded that we identify ourselves, that we divulge our political opinions vis-à-vis the FTAA and that we tell them what our intentions were while in the province's capital.

Throughout the weekend, bikesheviks experienced what we considered to be forms of police harassment. Most incidents occurred nowhere near the famous security perimeter. Riot-squad checkpoints in residential areas all over the city made our comings and goings their business. When videotaping police removing the gas mask of a passerby, I was threatened with arrest, ostensibly because I did not have a light on the front of my bike (even though I had flashing lights on both the front and the back of my helmet). I was told, "You don't need to film police on the corner for thirty minutes." The officer put his hand over the camera lens.

Serge Menard should give his troops a little talking to. The bikesheviks would be happy to set up a vélorutionary re-education camp for the job. The vélorution will not be motorized!

David Bernans is a researcher for the Concordia Student Union, a part-time professor at Concordia University, a member of the bikesheviks vélorutionnaires and is the author of the forthcoming book, Con U Inc: Privatization, Marketization and Globalization at Concordia University (and beyond). He ran for the NDP against Finance Minister Paul Martin in the most recent federal elections.

Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.

rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.

Comments

We welcome your comments! rabble.ca embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on rabble.ca and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:

Do

  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.

Don't

  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.