By Tenayi Moyo
With Tory politics taking centre stage this past weekend, the Conservative convention also drew protesters voicing their opposition to the Harper government.
This past weekend Calgary hosted over 3,000 Conservative party members at the BMO centre for the party’s annual convention. Over the course of the weekend, demonstrations were staged by members of the United Steelworkers, the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, the Confédération des syndicats nationaux, the Occupy movement and groups associated with an organization called Common Causes, including Idle No More activists.
The protestors called for Canadians to challenge Conservative leadership. Idle No More protester Chantal Chagnon claimed that Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Conservative party ignore the needs of many Canadians and said she thinks partisan politics are damaging Canada’s democracy.
“Unfortunately, in Parliament right now, any MP that tries to stand up and voice their opinions and represent the people is shot down,” Chagnon said. “We need to change that system. We need to change it so instead of being accountable to your party, you’re accountable to the people.”
The protests were made up of many different groups with a variety of causes, where demonstrators raising concerns about issues ranging from environmental protection to labour rights.
Protestor Aaron Doncaster stressed the importance of the demonstrators finding common goals amongst each other.
“A common ground is first and foremost that we’re all human,” Doncaster said. “I think a lot of the marginalized groups out here are the ones that get hit hardest. The only way that we can fight back is by building alliances with one another.”
Common Causes, an assembly of social movements, also hosted a lecture series at the Calgary Public Library on Friday. The event aimed to promote alternatives to the Conservative government’s present agenda.
The groups represented included the Council of Canadians, the Confédération des syndicats nationaux, Beaver Lake Cree Nation and Union for Canada.
The sold-out event was capped with a lecture from Canadian environmental activist and academic David Suzuki.
Organizers estimated over 500 protesters showed up in Calgary’s downtown core over the three-day convention.