Respect gained

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By Sean Fitz-Gerald

I began to wonder what the hell I was doing on a yellow school bus at 6:30 on a Saturday morning.  I had forsaken any plans of going out the previous night so I could arrive at six sharp.  Now I was sitting with my knees digging into the seat in front of me.

There was a certain kind of giddiness with my travelling partners.  Some 34 people (14 Ryerson students) had also decided to take the RyeSAC-organized bus to Ottawa.

As the bus crawled east through the dark morning, I gained respect for the people around me. Before this trip, a part of me always looked down on these “activists.”  I thought they were a gaggle of whiny post-adolescents who were going through a youthful left-wing phase.

What I learned, however, was that most of these people are just students who believe in their struggle against the current provincial government.  This drive allows them to see no problem in writing of the large chunk of their weekend.

After the six hour-or-so bus ride, they hopped off the bus bursting with energy.  As they marched from the shadows of Parliament Hill, they shouted, whistled and di just about anything they could (within the law) to get themselves heard.

Unfortunately, not everybody believes in their cause.  There were only about 5,000 people who showed up.  Of those people, less than half were students.  The rest were union members with different goals.

The route took them all in a large circle through part of Ottawa’s downtown core, a plan which should have taken them right past the Westin Hotel where the provincial Tories were having their conference.

Instead of marching by, students stopped and yelled at the building which housed their nemesis, Mike Harris.  With police and protest marshals guarding a barricade in front, students chanted at the grey structure.

It began to occur to me that right or wrong, the protesters believe in their fight.  They didn’t mug for cameras (though cameras usually found them), they didn’t’ harass police or Tory delegates, they just yelled their twenty-something heads off.

It is impossible to judge which side is in the right.  IF the left’s movement is so strong, why are the Tories still so high in the polls?

On the other hand, there have been more protests of the current Ontario government in the past four years than I can remember from previous regimes.  The only true way to find the truth, I suppose, is to see who has the most ballots with “Xs” beside their name next year.

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