Montreal – April 29 – Today, a group of activists and Montreal residents representing a diversity of social struggles attempted to disrupt a rally with Stephen Harper at the Ben Weider community centre in the neighbourhood of Cote-des-Neiges. Protestors were enraged by the fact that Harper intended to speak in Cote-des-Neiges, a working-class immigrant community in Montreal, on one of the last days of the election campaign. Cote-des-Neiges, one of the poorest areas in Montreal, has come under direct attack from policies of the Harper Conservative government since 2006.
The demonstration was called for 8:15am, and was organized with just over 12 hours of notice. At the beginning of the demo, some people attempted to enter the community centre and were quickly forced out by Conservative party hacks and RCMP officers. Still, the rally continued undeterred, with plenty of energy and rage. Because of the demonstration, Harper was forced to delay his speech by 30 minutes, and protestors prevented him from having his photo-op outdoors.
There were a number of different groups represented at the rally, including Solidarity Across Borders, Tadamon, Project Genesis, and students from Dawson college. These groups work on a broad range of social issues that directly confront Harper's policies, including migrant justice, Middle-East solidarity, housing rights, and access to education.
Many different residents and community organizers in Cote-des-Neiges took the microphone to call out Harper's racist, sexist, and homophobic agenda. As one particularly boisterous resident of the community said into the megaphone, “Any time Stephen Harper wants to trade his job for my welfare check, I'd be happy to take him up on the offer!” Other speakers denounced Harper on his government's attacks on access to abortion, his support for Israeli aggression in Palestine, and his support for big oil companies instead of social housing. In Montreal alone, there are nearly 24 000 families on a waiting list for social housing. At the same time, Harper continues to give away billions of tax-payer dollars in subsidies to large corporations. This is class war being waged on the people of Cote-des-Neiges, and on poor communities across Canada and Quebec.
The demo finally wrapped up after Harper's rally had ended, with demonstrators confronting the rally's attendees, some of whom were aggressive hurled numerous classist, anti-poor insults. Protestors underlined that regardless of what happens at the polls on May 2, these struggles for basic human dignity will continue on May 3.