Monday, April 12, 2010

Coalition to Build a Better BC Rally on Saturday

I was camping all weekend so I did not catch any media till this morning. I went looking for coverage of the rally on Saturday by the Coalition to Build a Better BC and there is almost nothing out there. I found one thing at the Georgia Straight, a press release and something on Rabble.ca. That was it.

I am paying attention to this group because I am interested in broad based grassroots political coalitions that arise spontaneously. Even though I voted Yes in the 1993 referendum, I was interested in the mass of different groups that came together to oppose it. I may be for the HST, but I can not deny the obvious broad based support the Anti-HST campaign has. In both cases the groups of people coming together are so far across the political spectrum that they are not going to be a political force after the fact.

I came of political age with Operation Solidarity Coalition in 1983. I am no longer 17/18 and an anarchist, but 44 and a libertarian, but I have not lost my interest in how popular resistance to government happens. I talked about the coalition before so I already had an interest, but after reading piece by Tom Sanborn in The Tyee, Mainstream media mum on broad coalition's planned protest I was curious to see what was reported..
The Coalition for a Better B.C. rally scheduled for noon this Saturday outside the Vancouver Art Gallery may be the biggest political event you never heard of, if you rely on the province’s mainstream media.
Given the resources that a number of the groups have, the lack of serious publicity beforehand makes me wonder what is going on. The event had very little buzz going into it, but is that a good reason for no mainstream media to cover it?

I was interested to know how many people came out, but there is no report anywhere of the numbers, the best is a statement of 'hundreds of people' in the Straight. How many people is that? Can we assume it is something like 500? If it really was that small, there should be serious rethinking about who is doing what with this coalition. 500 people is decent if you are Junior 'B' hockey team or if you are an Anglican Minister on Easter Sunday, but for a rally in downtown Vancouver it is honestly pathetic.

The coalition website has not been updated since before the rally and still rather thin on any real details. Over at the facebook page, there is not a lot going on there either. The lack of any decent online work by the coalition says to me there are very few passionate volunteers putting energy into this. The photos I saw of the rally were dominated by public sector unions, the sense of a broad based coalition is not coming through to me.

I think back to 1983 and the Solidarity Coalition and how the energy was for that campaign against government started and grew into huge militant protests. I do not get any sense that this new coalition has that energy. I know of people in 1983 that sacrificed their job and career to work on Solidarity - the editor of the Solidarity Times being one good example. In 1983 the NDP was noticeably absent from the campaign, which at the time I thought was a bad thing but as I think about it now it meant that Operation Solidarity could be something more than a 'wingman' for the NDP.

I recently saw NDP material with the information about the coalition, though it does not seem to be on their website. How close is the NDP to the coalition?

The biggest grassroots thing going on in BC is the Anti-HST campaign, but there is nothing about that campaign at the coalition website or vice versa. Actually, what the coalition wants is still very nebulous. I suspect that may be part of the problem. In 1983 Operation Solidarity had a specific set of bills that needed to be defeated, there is nothing like with the coalition.

In many ways the Coalition for a Better BC feels more like the "Have You Had Enough?" rallies at the end of the NDP government.

More later on all of this.
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