2001-04-10
Dear Diary:

    Lately I've been whining about how we never go anywhere or do anything so on the 21st if all goes according to plan, Paul, I and a bunch of our friends will be heading up to Quebec City.

    Tear gas, riot police, pepper spray. Oh yeah, he knows how to show a girl a good time.

    Um, wait a minute ...

    Yep, we're planning to be part of the legal protest against the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA).

    If you don't know what the FTAA is, or what that might mean to you, don't feel badly. It's one of those things that big business and government would really prefer you not bother your head about. It hasn't exactly been well publicized or openly discussed.

    But anyone who lives within the proposed area of this agreement (basically everyone on this side of the globe except Cuba) SHOULD make it their business to understand it and make an informed decision about it. If it goes through it will profoundly change your life.

    I feel uneasy talking about my politics and I debated long an hard with myself about whether or not I'd talk about my plans for the 21st.

    But then I figured that anyone who has read between the lines of my diary probably has a good sense of where I am politically--let's see, I live in a log home, I compost, recycle, drive a small, economical car, feel strongly about issues such as gay rights, and I'm married to a practicing Buddhist ...

    Jeepers, do you think I could be a flaming small "l" liberal? HUH?

    So now that I've decloaked my politics, I might as well admit that I am very strongly against the FTAA as it is proposed right now because I feel it throws too much power into the hands of large corporations.

    The thing about large corporations is that they are not citizens of anywhere.

    Environmental standards do not protect the air they breathe, the water they drink, the land which grows their food; environmental standards are an expensive hindrance which eats away at their profits.

    Creating safe work environments eats away at their profits.

    Being forced to pay higher taxes in a country such as Canada which chooses to underwrite a strong social safety net woven with programs such as universal medical care and subsidized post-secondary education eats away at their profits.

    Well even you know what? I AM a citizen of somewhere and for me it's about a big plenty more than profits.

    I am ticked off that negotiations that will affect every facet of my life have been going on secretly behind closed doors. I am big time steamed because my own government is acting like a police state in the way it has thrown up security around this meeting.

    Illegal actions are planned for other days during the Summit of the Americas. I won't be there for that part because I'm one of those old school babyboomers and I like the thought that we can work within the system to affect change.

    Maybe I'm being stupidly naïve.

    I hope I'm not.

    If things go sour on Friday, then the riot police will be very touchy on Saturday, the 21st, when the legal protest is scheduled to take place. I am very scared, frankly. I would rather not do this, but I feel I must.

    I am hoping against hope that it all goes smoothly, that nothing erupts, because tear gas isn't a good look for me. Sadly, I'm one of those runny nose criers.

    I'm not advocating that anyone put themselves in harm's way. There are lots of other ways you can let your government know your position about this. Nor am I telling you to share my point of view. What I do ask is that you inform yourself and take a stand on this.

    Elected officials DO read their mail, especially when it's polite, firm, and states a clear position. My member of parliament knows how I feel about this and that if he supports the FTAA I will vote against him. Anyone who doubts the power of a vote, who feels that individuals cannot make a difference, only has to think about how close the last U.S. election was.

    Friday has been tentatively scheduled as a placard party over at a friend's place. Play group for middle-aged folk--lots of colouring and painting, eh while we design our signs for the protest.

    Really, can any of us have too much play group? I Think NOT!

    You know, sometimes I have more than a sneaking suspicion I'm a little too old for this, that I should be leaving this protest stuff to my daughter's generation.

    But then I remember what one of my friends once said: if you don't grow up by 50 you don't have to grow up at all.

    Forty-two days and I'm home free, eh.

--Marn

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