G20 protesters turn to theatrics

Protesters are turning to theatrical tactics like papier-mâché bobble-head costumes, human oil slicks, rebel clowns, samba bands and floats to demonstrate against the G20 summit meetings, reported The Globe and Mail June 25.

Lesley Wood, a sociology professor in York’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies who specializes in social movements, says dissent has trended toward creativity and away from aggression in recent years, a phenomenon she attributes to heightened security measures in the past decade.

"I think overall, post-9-11, you’re seeing people saying, ‘What can we get our message out doing that isn’t quite as risky?’ Protesters are a little bit scared," Wood said. A total of 12,000 police officers have been assigned to the summit.

"Protesters always have to find a balance between getting noticed and being legitimate, and there’s a risk if you start being too theatrical because you get written off as not serious," Wood said.

Protesters fell in love on the picket line

It began at a much humbler protest, on the barren plains of Toronto’s York University, reported The Globe and Mail June 25.

Joanna Adamiak (MA ’06) and Terrance Luscombe (BA Hons. ’09) met on the picket lines. Over the next two years, the environmental studies graduate students would protest for indigenous sovereignty and migrant justice, later taking part in an anti-torch rally during Vancouver’s Winter Olympics.

But the G20 takes the cake: "This will be the largest thing we’ve done together," said Adamiak, who will march on Queen’s Park with her boyfriend Friday and Saturday.

When you’re passionate about a cause – or in the case of the G20, a pile of causes – it helps to have a mate who’s just as ardent. "It’s really great to be able to talk about these things with each other and not have to explain to a partner why this is important or why you don’t have so much time for them because you’re so wrapped up in planning for it," said Adamiak, 29.

She and Luscombe, 23, have spent much of their free time since the Vancouver Olympics preparing for the summit. They’ve made protest signs together, written call-outs and had food delivered and art ferried across the city for the Toronto Community Mobilization Network.

The group is helping protesters find lodgings and supplying daycare. "No nuts. No scents. No patriarchy," reads the sign out front of TCMN’s headquarters in Toronto’s Parkdale neighbourhood.

"For my politics to be valid, they need to be enacted on a daily basis," Adamiak said.

"For me, it’s important to have a partner who at least has similar politics to me. I can’t imagine being in a relationship with somebody who doesn’t share an anti-oppressive framework, or who isn’t a feminist, or who isn’t anti-capitalist or anti-colonial – right?"

Beyond shared beliefs, the fervent culture of activism often results in hookups. When people share "very similar passions", Luscombe says, "such things are bound to happen."

He’s seen couples "all over the place." Adamiak notes they include husbands and wives, boyfriends and girlfriends and polyamorous friends.

Student arrested under secretly passed G20 security regulation

The province has secretly passed an unprecedented regulation that empowers police to arrest anyone near the G20 security zone who refuses to identify themselves or agree to a police search, reported the Toronto Star June 25.

David Vasey, 32, a master’s student in environmental studies at York, was arrested Thursday under the new regulation, which was quietly passed by the provincial cabinet on June 2.

The regulation was made under Ontario’s Public Works Protection Act and was not debated in the Legislature. It kicked in Monday and will expire June 28, the day after the summit ends.

Vasey said he was exploring the G20 security perimeter with a friend when they were stopped by police and asked for identification. According to him, police explained there was a bylaw in place obligating him to provide identification but he refused, acting on the advice of a "Know Your Rights" information pamphlet given to him by the Toronto Community Mobilization Network, a group assisting protesters.

Vasey was taken into custody at around 4pm. He was brought to the Eastern Avenue detention centre, a former movie studio that has been temporarily converted into a prisoner holding pen. According to his charge sheet, he was charged with refusing to comply with a peace officer under the act. He said he only learned of the new regulation after his release, at around 9pm.

Surprised by CSIS director’s comments

Critics are demanding an explanation – or the resignation – of Canadian Security Intelligence Service director Richard Fadden for his comments to CBC TV about "foreign influence" on Canadian politicians, reported the Toronto Star June 25.

But those who know Fadden were surprised that the longtime civil servant, who has spent more than three decades moving up the bureaucratic ranks, had been caught making what seemed like careless remarks. Fadden is also no stranger to national security issues, having once served as the intelligence coordinator of the Privy Council Office.

"I just find that extraordinary and astonishing, because there was no gain for him to say it," said political scientist Reg Whitaker, Distinguished Research Professor Emeritus in York’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, who has known Fadden for years. "He’s very much the bureaucrat. He’s been involved in the Ottawa scene for many years in senior positions. He’s not one to grab headlines and is comfortable as a faceless bureaucrat."

Music to protest by

Sounds Like A Revolution is a timely look at the current state of protest music, which has flowered since the American invasion of Iraq in 2003. Directed by Toronto’s Summer Love and Jane Michener (and narrated by Toronto singer Jackie Richardson), the film is a television-style music documentary which focuses on four American performers: Michael Franti of Spearhead, rapper Paris, Fat Mike of the San Francisco punk band NOFX and Justin Sane of Pittsburgh’s Anti-Flag. Additional commentary is provided by David Crosby, Wayne Kramer of the MC5, Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine, together with Rob Bowman, music professor in York’s Faculty of Fine Arts, and radio host Alan Cross (CFNY’s The Ongoing History of New Music) who provide some useful historical context.

A sports medicine centre at McMaster could coordinate with York

Chris Rudge, the new chairperson of the Canadian Sport Centre Ontario (CSCO), said the Toronto-based centre would look at a satellite centre in Hamilton to build off three Pan American Games facilities, reported The Hamilton Spectator June 25.

Rudge outlined a cooperative national approach that would coordinate coaching, development and sports research for summer athletes in the same way as the Canadian Olympic Committee developed programs to benefit winter athletes. "We have to work hand in glove with others across the country in terms of resources so we have economics of scale in areas likes sports medicine and research."

Rudge said a strong sports medicine centre at McMaster University could take a lead in its areas of expertise. "We’d coordinate with (the University of) Toronto and York (University) to avoid duplication and concentrate our dollars and maximize our opportunities."

Portugal vs. Brazil strains historic ties

For decades, Brazil has been the auxiliary team of choice among Portuguese soccer fans, reported the National Post June 25.

But Fernando De Souza, a Brazilian tour operator in Canada with clients from all over the Portuguese-speaking world, said cheering for Portugal is suitable under one rare circumstance: when they’re playing Argentina.

Of course, the disparity between fans of each country has its roots in more than mere sport. In a purely historic sense, the relationship between Brazil and Portugal is not unlike that of the United States and England – Old World versus New.

"Portugal admires Brazil for everything; historically, Brazil gave to Portugal. But the opposite is not as strong," said Rita Rolim, a visiting lecturer of Portuguese in York’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies.