Division of Power #4 Response to criticism

The Bill C-10 protest at Andrew Swan’s constituency office that I wrote a blog post about last week was a strange agglomeration of dedicated Occupiers and disgruntled NDP members.

My criticism of that protest late last week sparked some equally critical responses from readers. So here is my response:

I’m certainly aware that many NDP members have worked to convince their party to oppose Bill C-10. I also understand that those NDP members who did “occupy” Swan’s office did so out of perceived desperation.

I would add, however, that NDP members who oppose C-10 have clearly failed to convince both party executives, but also other NDP members and NDP voters, that the current party position on the federal crime package is irresponsible.

Does that mean they should shut up and accept failure? No. Does it mean that they don’t have a right to protest? Absolutely not. But it also doesn’t mean that the entire party apparatus doesn’t work. 

By allying with Occupy Winnipeg to annex the office, disgruntled NDP members are essentially claiming that, simply because the party did not adopt a position that some of its members support, that the entire system has failed.

Again, this was clear with calls to abolish the police and prison system outright.

As such, when I offered alternatives to the annexing of Swan’s office, I was directing that critique largely at those who believe that traditional avenues for political change, as opposed to direct action/protest/civil disobedience, are pointless.

I offered those alternatives to point out that there are ways to get involved and make change within a party and that the notion of party members being completely powerless to change or influence party policy (or public policy, if elected) is ridiculous. The critique was aimed largely at the Occupiers who, from what I can tell, ultimately believe that elites control the entire political/economic system.

As for those who were chastising me about discussing the Downtown BIZ forum after talking informally with those who had attended about the level of vitriol and black and white logic, here’s a quote from one of the BIZ protesters:

“The BIZ and the police are not worthy of civil discourse. They are violent racist gangs who roam our streets and abuse the most marginalized and vulnerable among us. I’m proud to say that I was among those who shouted down the WPS and the BIZ when they were spouting their lies and obfuscations. And I’d do it again in a heartbeat.”

Again, there are many things that I am concerned about when it comes to the BIZ and the above quote comes from someone who alerted me to some of those concerns last summer. That doesn’t mean that there is no room for civility unless, of course, you really do believe that the police and BIZ patrols are irrevocably corrupt and racist thugs.

Also, I’ve been working for The Uniter long enough to know when I should do interviews and when it is unnecessary.

Normally, I write news and I delight in interviewing people from all sides of the political spectrum and being as fair as possible in my reporting. Right now, this is my opinion and that opinion is subject to change. I hope you will take it with a grain of salt.

Division of Power is a biweekly exploration of politics and federalism as it pertains to Winnipeg.