[UPDATE: Christopher Wilson interviewed protesters at the woman’s march in Vancouver who indicated they travelled to the march because it was “free”. Who paid for it then?]
The Women’s March On Washington appears to have been grassroots at the beginning. Retired Hawaii lawyer Teresa Shook set up a Facebook event page promoting the idea the march after the election- and it quickly went viral. But, perhaps demonstrating her lack of experience as a professional protester, she made the faux pas of calling it the “Million Woman March”.
It didn’t take long for the politically correct shit to hit the fan when professional activists complained the name had already been used for a black women’s march in 1997. Suddenly there were allegations of racism, cultural appropriation, and complaints there were too many white women organising. All was forgiven after the reins were handed to three “intersectional” activists (Muslim, Black & Hispanic) with deep ties to the Democrat industrial complex.
But what about the Canadian arm of the movement, was it real or is it AstroTurf? The best way to find out is always to look into the people and organisations behind the protest. As many suspected, it includes many of the same politicians, political operatives, and labour unions we see involved with most other big “grassroots” protests.
Meet The Politicians!
Nothing says grassroots more than packing a stage with politicians! Canadian WMW demonstrations had all sorts of politicians, including many of the usual suspects we see at AstroTurf protests- and some really crap role models for the young women who came to the protest.
- Elizabeth May:
Green Party leader Elizabeth May was a keynote speaker at the Victoria rally. She spoke about First Nations causes, no surprise, the Greens have a long history of appropriating FN voices. She also complained about an “irresponsible criminal element now occupying the White House”. You know, like when May stood up for G20 rioters saying “breaking windows isn’t violent” or when she participated in a misinformation attack against the RCMP helping another group of violent activists.
- Heather Deal:
Deal was a featured speaker at the Vancouver rally. She’s a city councillor with the ruling party Vision Vancouver. She’s probably best known for being caught in a profanity-laced hot mic blunder where Mayor Gregor Robertson degraded citizens who’d just conducted deputations at City Hall- you think she’d have some sympathy for Trump!
- Linda Duncan:
NDP Member of Parliament Linda Duncan was a featured speaker at the Edmonton march. Duncan is a mentor to “f**k the police” anarchist Chelsea Flook, who coincidentally ran an anti-Trump event at the University of Regina where she shared the stage with NDP MLA and former Saskatchewan Minister of Corrections & Public Safety Warren McCall.
When Flook was arrested for a stunt in Parliament in 2009, Duncan and Elizabeth May stood up to back them– small world, isn’t it?
- Cheri DiNovo:
DiNovo is an Ontario NDP MPP who was a featured speaker at the second half of the Toronto march in front of City Hall. She’s a fierce advocate for women’s & GLBTQ issues who once chastised a group of eco-terrorists for having unsavoury policies towards trans people- and has no problems with lying to smear her opponents.
- Kristyn Wong-Tam:
Wong-Tam is a Toronto City Councillor. She’s a crap role model, who once encourage a room full of young women in politics to engage and fight with Internet trolls- arguing that sometimes it’s a good thing when someone calls you a “c**t” on Twitter. Wong-Tam was recently seen talking about Internet safety at Twitter sitting next to Black Lives Matter’s Yusra Khogali, a black supremacist who has been investigated for posting online threats against a Toronto police officer.
Meet The Political Operatives!
During the past five years I’ve been researching and reporting on protests I’m continually astounded by how dismal most mainstream media coverage has been. The WMW was no different. Toronto
journalists stenographers missed some big connections in the organising group- including the Clinton family, the assistant to the leader of the Ontario NDP, and an Ontario NDP Vice President.
- Penelope Chester-Starr:
Chester-Starr is perhaps the most interesting of the Canadian WMW organisers. In her former life; she was an Intern for the Clinton Foundation, an associate with the Clinton Giustra Sustainable Growth Initiative, a Director at the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, and worked for a voting systems corporation where she oversaw the implementation of an “island-wide voting system” in Puerto Rico.
In an interview with the Toronto Star, presumably managing to keep a straight face, she claimed that the Canadian WMW didn’t invite politicians, “because organisers didn’t want to introduce a partisan element to the demonstrations.” Of course, the hacks at the Toronto Star neglected to mention the Toronto stage was packed with politicians, nor did they do a simple Google search and disclose the fact Chester-Starr is so closely connected to the Clinton Industrial Complex.
- Deb Parent:
Parent is a lifelong activist who’s most well-known for the “Dyke and Trans” self-defence courses she’s been running for over three decades. She was one of the organisers of the Toronto march, but there something that the hacks at the Toronto Star neglected to tell their readers about Parent- @NDPDeb is employed as an Assistant to Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath.
- Janelle Brady:
Brady was listed on a press release as a member the Canadian WMW Organizing Committee. Of course, the presser completely neglected to mention that she’s a Vice President of the Ontario NDP Executive! She was also a Constituency Assistant for Toronto City Councillor Anthony Perruzza, and received a special award from Cheri DiNovo- small world!
- Leslie Carlin:
Carlin is an Anthropologist at the University of Toronto. She represented Democrats Abroad at the protest, a group that helped organise the buses to bring women from Canada down to the main protest in Washington, DC.
- Paula Kirman:
Kirman is a long-time NDP activist and a terrific source of videos for anyone following professional protesters in Alberta (I owe her a big thank you). She was a member of the Canadian MWM national committee and a co-organizer of the Edmonton march that featured NDP MP Linda Duncan.
Meet The Labour Unions!
One of the quickest ways to determine if a protest you’re at is AstroTurf is to look around for the union activists. Somehow, despite the fact they see the same union marshalls protest after protest, the media only seems to report on the union presence if a union exec steps up to the microphone. Media reports on the Toronto and Vancouver rallies followed this same pattern.
- Ontario Federation of Labour:
The OFL is a provincial organising representing Ontario’s unions. They used their skills marshalling parades to guide the unwitting protesters who had little idea who was behind the Toronto march- the media, who’ve seen them on the streets many times in the past, completely ignored the OFL’s participation. The OFL was also a major player in organising buses of women travelling down to Washington DC, a fact a few in the media did cover.
- BC Federation of Labour:
The BCFED is the OFL’s equivalent in British Columbia. Like the OFL, they took a major part in organising the Vancouver rally, including providing marshalling and other services. Their President Irene Lanzinger participated in the march.
- Lisa Langevin:
Langevin is the co-chair of the IBEW 213 union local. She was a member of the national organising committee and helped set up the march in Vancouver. She’s previously been a Delegate to the BCFED’s annual convention.
- Andria Babbington:
Babbington is a Vice President of the Toronto & York Region Labour Council, a union umbrella group that’s closely connected to many of the labour movement’s AstroTurf street level protests. She was a featured speaker a the Toronto rally in front of Queens Park.
- Denise Hammond:
Last but not least, we have Denise Hammond of the labour union Unifor. Hammond is yet another “f**k the police” anarchist who was uncomfortably close to the violence during the Toronto G20. Hammond was listed as the key media contact on the Toronto march’s press releases.
So, Is It Real Or Is It AstroTurf?
I’ll leave that for you to decide. But personally, I find it hard to label anything as AstroTurf when it’s backed by multi-million dollar organisations (unions), packed with politicians (I was part of banning politicians from speaking at Occupy Vancouver), and organised (at least in part) by highly placed political operatives.
People who disagree with me on this might point out how so many of the people who came to attend the marches were ordinary citizens. And they’d be right! Many were the usual suspects we see at other AstroTurf protests but most who attended were average Janes (and Joes).
But that doesn’t change the fact it was organised by professional protesters and political operatives. It also doesn’t change the fact that the politicians Chester-Starr said weren’t invited gave keynote speeches. And it doesn’t answer the question why while most of the women organisers disclosed their employers on the national web page, Chester-Starr conveniently left that part out.
I don’t know about you, but my AstroTurf meter is in the red.