This week the Conservative party held its convention in Calgary. It was a good choice, the Prime Minister’s riding is there and it’s an easy city for the CPC to round up a nice sized crowd. There’s also an added benefit- Alberta’s a lot less left-leaning than the rest of the country, so it’s more difficult for Harper’s rapid detractors to build up any resistance.
With so few supporters in Calgary and the high cost of shipping people in, what’s the union/ENGO industrial complex to do? The answer is simple, it’s a tactic they’ve been using since time immemorial- drag other groups into their web and try to hijack their movements. In this case they used the same leaders and activist superstars who helped during the Canadian Occupy movement.
The incident happened at a shadow conference called The Canada We Want, their tagline is”Wake Up Canada!”. The logo features two Occupy/OTPOR stylized fists holding feathers with what appears to be a Haida design- looks very grassroots at first glance. But, when you click over to the schedule page, you quickly realize that there’s no dirt under your feet- it’s AstroTurf, setup by the unions, NGO’s and political parties who are working together to defeat the Conservatives.
The event was setup by three local women; Chantal Chagnon of Idle No More/Green Party Calgary, Julie Hrdlicka of the Public Interest Alberta (the daughter of an oil company executive, and a member of the Christian Peacemaker Teams), and Mel Teghtmeyer of the Council of Canadians. It was held at the Calgary library- on videos of the event one speaker thanked the facility for being a friend of the movement.
The events ran from October 31st to November 2nd. The first day started with breakfast, opening ceremonies, and a sit-down with the Calgary police officers assigned as protest liaisons. There were a few tough questions for the cops, but the protesters were much more respectful than they would be in other Canadian cities. Next, the bulk of the day was spent rallying and picketing the site of the convention.
When Ezra Levant showed up at the rally most people were hesitant to be seen talking to him. This is normal- some are uncomfortable with their ideas to be challenged, others are under instructions from their leaders not to talk with Sun News. But not everyone there was so tightly controlled, the crowd consisted of people from Occupy Calgary (a more grassroots Occupation than in other Canadian cities), indigenous protesters, and a professional protester named Chelsea Flook.
Flook’s an anarchist executive with the Sierra Club, former leader/hijacker of Occupy Edmonton, former leader at the infamous CUPE 3903, and one of Canada’s superstar activists who wears the Love Is The Movement tattoo. She never spoke with Levant, only walked around carrying a clipboard (with a “Beaver Lake Cree” sticker on it) and occasionally typing messages into her smartphone. This is to be expected, she’s well trained in talking to the media, and knows better than to debate with someone who ask hard questions.
Though Flook was quiet around the Levant’s camera’s, she was quite talkative with fellow protesters. Bizarrely, she warned them about the perils of the ‘paid protesters’ among them- remember, Flook is a paid protester herself. These were the same tactics of creating FUD and division we saw during Occupy, when she and her compatriots tried to wrestled control of the Canadian movement.
There were workshops each day including “Unions / Worker Rights History of the Labour Unions & the Future” and a friendly politics panel including representatives of Fair Vote, the Green Party, and the Liberals. Flook co-led a workshop about activism with activist rock star Brigette “Stop Harper” DePape. At one point they asked the people attending to write down their names indicating if they’re willing to be arrested for the cause.
The unions/NGO’s brought out their third activist superstar on day 3 when Clayton Thomas-Muller (also with the tattoo) was a headline speaker at a rally for the PSAC union. Thomas-Muller played a similar role during Occupy, speaking at key events to help build up the crowds (as did Bridgette DePape). Both travel extensively to protests and events as far away as Istanbul, and both have tight relations with the unions and ENGO’s.
The highlight of the event was a show put on by Common Causes– a union/ENGO influenced activist umbrella group similar to the Ontario Common Front. They scheduled some of the activist world’s greatest superstars- David Suzuki, Maude Barlow of the Council of Canadians, Chief Theresa Spence (who couldn’t make it), CUPE president Paul Moist, writer Michael Harris, and Brigette DePape.
Suzuki’s speech was well tailored for his audience. He praised Canada saying that to him it meant “Tommy Douglas…and the NDP”, expressed his belief Canada and the world need to spend “big money” on environmental causes like we did on the space race, and expressed his views on elections reform:
“…and I voted in every federal election, I have never voted for a federal government that got into power- because of this fucked up system!”
The event was moderated by Bill Phipps, a lifelong activist who was the moderator of the United Church from 1997-2000. Phipps’ biography tells us that he worked for Saul Alinsky while he was studying theology in Chicago.
Alinsky was a unionist and activist who wrote the infamous book Rules For Radicals. His book teaches many of the same tactics that were used during the protest- find less advantaged “have nots”, recruit them onto your team, and use them as activist cannon fodder for protests that benefit your cause (which in this case is middle-class union employees).
Alinsky referrers to the middle class as the “Have-little, Want-mores”, people who are comfortable enough in our society that they’re not motivated (and are too busy) to get out there and protest for their own causes. The unions make up for this by sending people like Flook and DePape to excite existing (normally poorer) communities- then, slowly, they take over their causes. It’s the union/ENGO form of the Borg.
The protests at the CPC convention were no different than all the others. They used the same professional activists, unions, NGO’s and tactics we’ve seen many times before. The ghost of Saul Alinsky is alive and well in Canada- and it’s eating the soul of grassroots movements…
I like that term — “AstroTurf Environmentalist.” Just as good as “Champagne Communist” & “Gucci Socialist.”
Great story and nice to have you back writing again. Yes, these professional protesters dont actually have a cause, they simply hijack other causes that fit their political agendas and claim it as theirs . then once they laid clai m to something, they twist the facts to suit THEIR agendas and insert a bunch of radical clap trap . For a bunch of people who have no jobs they sure do get around alot.
If you have never seen the early 90s movie PCU I recommend it. It is about how overly politically correct a certain university is getting. Was actually filmed in the GTA. In it there are a group of students called the ‘Cause Heads.’ To quote the main character “They pick a world threatening issue and stick with it. . . . . for about a week.”