Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Remembrance Day: The Deception

I wasn't planning on being there. I had been feeling sick and was intending on staying home. The rain was pouring down incessantly and the last thing I wanted to do was go out in it. Then I remembered, it's Remembrance Day; we had a wreath to lay at the foot of the Cenotaph during the ceremonies. Wondering if any others had remembered our duty, I began slipping into my rain gear. 

I left the house and walked down to Victoria Park. When I got there, not too much to my surprise, I found that a number of the tents at our encampment had collapsed under the pressure and force of the wind and rain. I helped fix and stabilize a few of them until the weather could clear and we could begin fixing them properly. There were not many people on site; maybe about 20 or so. I spoke with a few and got the impression there were not many headed down to Grand Parade for the ceremonies. I told them I would check back with them after and headed down to the ceremonies.

When I arrived at Grand Parade, I sought out Tom Waters. Tom is one of the veteran's who met with members of Occupy Nova Scotia (ONS), myself included, to discuss the moving of the encampment for Remembrance Day. Tom had a wreath prepared for ONS to place upon the cenotaph during the ceremonies to remember the men and women who had fought and died to give us the right to the freedom of speech and assembly we had embraced to share our message.

During the ceremony, I happened to meet a veteran from Afghanistan. He had lost four friends during his two tours there. We spoke for a bit, I explained who I was and why I was there. In the end, he asked permission to accompany me to place the wreath; he said it would be 'his honor'. I told him no, it was mine. Together, in the rain, we placed the wreath together. I bowed my head, he stood at attention, then saluted. We exchanged parting words and as I turned around, I was confronted with the mayor of Halifax, Peter Kelly.

I lifted my hand to him and shook his. I expressed my gratitude for taking the time to speak with ONS and work with us. I told him I was looking forward to future meetings we would have to discuss and work around other events to be held in the Grand Parade. He shook my hand, smiled and wished me a good day. I left Grand Parade feeling at peace. Little did I know what the mayor knew; lest things might have been different. He had assured us cooperation and understanding; he lied.

I will be saving the exact details of what ensued at Victoria Park in a later post. What is important for you to know right now is that while shaking my hand, knowing I was on my way back to the encampment, Peter Kelly smiled at me knowing the police were already waiting. To be brief, upon my return I was sought out by Constable Sean Auld (he was accompanied by another constable and a man in a suit who never identified himself) and given an eviction notice. I will save the actual eviction for another post; today's post is about deceit after all.

How you feel about the Occupy movement or its message is irrelevant. How you feel about justice however, is of the utmost importance. Myself with several other Occupiers met with the mayor, some veteran's and Veteran's Affair representatives to discuss Remembrance Day ceremonies. After all, we were camped out at the war memorial in Halifax; it was no surprise they wanted us to move. Each year thousands descend upon Grand Parade Square for the Remembrance Day ceremonies.

We talked and negotiated with them in good faith. We, as demonstrators, were all too aware of the fact that we stood there that day because of the sacrifice of the men and women of the military. Because of our awareness and our respect for these people, we worked out a course of action that would accommodate all. We would depart from our location for several days to respect Remembrance Day and would then return in the days after. Everyone at the meeting felt this was acceptable.

Peter Kelly, Tom Waters & John Thibeau
We came together in good faith; we met with officials in good faith; we gave our word in good faith and not once did we go back on it. We were there to protest the corruption of our government officials (to name but one) and were told if we wanted to make a real difference we would have to work with them; negotiate. We did this; we were deceived. We came together at Grand Parade with a misplaced trust in our politicians; we overcame our misplaced trust and gave them respect as people and offered them an opportunity to prove us wrong; they lied to us.

I was once told, as a member of ONS, that I was wasting my time protesting municipal politics; that I should be in front of the parliament building where the provincial politicians meet; that was where the real corruption and trouble stemmed from. I ask you, after reading my recounting of the deceitful actions of our municipal government, were we truly in front of the wrong building?

Part 2