Last night my wife and I joined many hundreds of citizens who joined with the students to protest Bill 78. It was a peaceful demonstration as are the vast majority of demonstrations. Of course very little reporting of non-violent protests happens so you would not necessarily know unless you happened to be in the centre of Quebec City.

The protesters were made up of all ages: seniors, middle aged people, young families with mum or dad pushing strollers or carriages and some children with their parents. All were united in denouncing Bill 78 which has been used as a means of control by the Quebec Government and which I and many others believe is unconstitutional as it violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The crowd shouted slogans that said the streets were ours not the government’s. Some signs deplored the disintegration of democracy in our society. Drums were beat, horns were sounded and songs were sung. It was raucous by times but never aggressively so. As we made our way through the city many people came out to stand on the sidewalk and cheer, many leaned out their windows to wave a red towel or to shout their support.

A most amazing thing happened near the end of the march before people began to disperse. The protesters were near the train station, the Gare de Palais, all resting before going up the hill to pass by the Hotel Dieu Hospital. The leaders of the march explained that as the protest was going up the street beside the Hospital that we should not chant or make any loud noises. So in silence the protesters marched up the hill in their hundreds and passed the hospital. At one point a small group way at the back, people who were so far back they had not heard the instructions, made a small noise, the protesters who had heard and were closer turned and said shush!  That was enough, silence reigned.

I pass this on because the reports by the corporate media about the protests focus not on the issues or on the threat to democracy, they highlight the wrong headed and violent behaviour of a small percentage of the crowd. many of these people have their own agenda, some may even be agents provocateur, used to get a reaction from the protesters. The vast majority of people are citizens like you and I who deplore what is happening to our society and to the institutions of our nation. Fortunately, there has not been much behaviour like that in Quebec City although there has been some in Montreal. You will note however that there have been many reports of the police in Montreal being provocative and at times showing antagonism to the protesters.

I am proud to see so many citizens marching to show the government that we will not give up our civil rights. I am also heartened to know that so many see and and are willing to publicly deplore the debasing of our parliamentary and governmental institutions. On every level of government we need new leaders. I believe we are seeing the rise of a new political consciousness and a rededication to the principles of democracy. This is a hopeful sign.