Acitivism The Right and Wrong Way: Reckless Demonstration by Greepeace on Parliament Hill

The following was originally written on December 8th, 2009… As you may or may not have noticed, this page has experienced some serious technical difficulties. Now that the world has returned to its proper shape, I present the post that was to have been December 8th, 2009.

20 individuals are in police custody as I write this, and I would fully expect charges to be announced, after Greenpeace staged a demonstration on Parliament Hill today. 14 members of the activist group hung a massive banner reading “Harper/Ignatieff: Climate inaction costs lives” from the roof of the West Block of Parliament, then rappelled down the side of the building. The protest coincides with the meeting of various world leaders and representatives of nations for climate talks in Copenhagen.

Whether you agree or disagree, and I agree with the sentiment behind the protest, sometimes it’s the means, rather than the message, that steals the show. And, not always in the way the activists would like.


Greenpeace is famous for outlandish and often dangerous demonstrations related to environmental and animal activism, and are more widely known for their protest of the seal hunt. Born of the nuclear protests of the 70’s, Greenpeace has participated in environmental activism for nearly fourty years. Their tactics are loosely termed “civil disobedience,” but have also drawn criticism and labelling as eco-terrorism for some of their more radical and extreme methods. As the notion of environmental concern and green topics become more prevalent in the media and public consciousness, the name Greenpeace, and their methods, take a greater importance in the discussion.

I don’t have any issue with people who wish to demonstrate in order to bring more attention to a particular cause or concern. I didn’t have a problem with the Tamil’s this summer when they demonstrated the Sri Lankan massacre of their people. They were peaceful demonstrators, more often than not respectful of traffic and the goings on of the public. Their efforts brought the cause of the Tamils into the news cycle and drew attention to their concern, which was precisely what was intended. Some would bitch and moan that they were delayed in getting to or from work because there were some traffic disruptions, particularly in Toronto. But, honestly, if you think that being in the car a little longer on the way home because of traffic, in the capital city of traffic congestion, Toronto, is such a massive inconvenience, perhaps you should have to endure having your entire family ruthlessly murdered in order to give proper scale to the debate. I exaggerate, of course, but my point is simply that the Tamils protested in exactly the way that an activist group should in order to get their cause noticed; peacefully, with a minimum of disruption to the daily activities of those around them, but publicly enough that they were noticed and spoken of.

Today, Greenpeace showed us exactly how not to protest.

Sure, they’ll probably argue that what they did got them an enormous amount of attention. They’re right. It’s on the radio, likely on TV, on the internet, and will be in all the newspapers. Their stunt got them attention and put their message in the public eye. Environmentalists will probably cheer these morons because they did something outlandish that put the message of the need for action on climate change front and center. They’re still idiots, and so are the twits who cheer for them. What they don’t see is the cost.

I’ve always marvelled at how open our Parliament is. This is the seat of our government, where the leaders of our country come to work, if you can call it that, and steer the ship of our nation. Our Prime Minister works here. And, yet, I can park my car downtown, stroll up Rideau to the Hill, walk through the gates and right up to the buildings in which our country’s leaders are housed. I won’t be tackled by security, I won’t be shot by snipers, and they won’t release large, sabre-toothed dogs on me. Hell, they do yoga on the lawns of the Hill in the summer! If they let those cultist nutjobs on the premises, it’s hard to argue that security is oppressive!

I wonder how long that will last.

The fact that these Greenpeace assholes -and here I am disparaging the people, rather than their message- found a way onto the roof of the West Block, and then rappelled down the side of the buildings, will surely result in a review of security measures on the Hill. I mean, if a bunch of idiots with a banner can get up on the roof of one of the buildings, what about a more insidious bunch of idiots with explosives? I’m sure this is precisely the questions being asked today, as 19 brainless sacks of flesh languish in jail.

Can you imagine this kind of thing happening at the White House? Hardly. Nobody would have gotten on the property, much less on the roof. And, while I am certainly not suggesting that the US is a shining example for us to follow, I am using thier example to demonstrate just what thoughtless lunacy such as that of those Greenpeace idiots is threatening us with. Actions such as those today move us that much closer to shutting the doors and gates of Parliament to the public. No more casual visits. No more walking on to the property to look at the statues and watch the changing of the guard. No more cultist group contortionism on the lawn.

And, it doesn’t help the environmentalist cause, either.

What do you think people are paying more attention to, right now? Do you think anyone is thinking about the well scribed message on the banner? Do you think anyone gives a rosy turd about the threat alluded to by that message? Or do you think people are talking about the stunt?

I’m banking money on the stunt.

By doing something ridiculous to draw attention to their message, these 19 morons actually drew attention away from it. A nice piece of work, that. If they were employees and had a boss, I’d say he/she should fire them.

The Tamils protested for naught, because we generally don’t care that much about what goes on outside of our borders, as a society. But, they protested peacefully and without making complete asses of themselves, or damaging the credibility of their cause. This is something that should be commended. Greenpeace protested today and their results won’t be any better than those of the Tamils. The difference is the activists today looked like idiots and negated any attention they drew to their cause with the attention that was drawn to their methods, and they may have ruined a privilege that we all had as Canadians in the process. Maybe a better response would have been to let them hang there a little while longer.

Like a week.

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1 comment so far

You have the same right to protest as I have the same right to impose trespassing laws. IF you climb up on any government building these days (post 9/11) What kind of reception do you think you’ll get?
Your right should have left them hanging, could have looked nice as part of the sound and light show. (smirk)

Dwight Dunlop
January 29th, 2010 at 2:21 pm

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