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Opinion: Bill Walton, Private public protests

Me thinks we doth protest too much – or not enough

Three P (Private Public Partnership) enterprises usually involve the funding and construction of infrastructure, using the skill of the private sector and the money of the public sector, supposedly to the benefit of the public. North Bay’s Regional Hospital was one such venture. How that is working out is for another time; what I am thinking about now is how and when private personal protests of some events gain momentum and become a public protest that ignites action.

Does one need to be an "influencer" to spread and grow one’s protest of people or events, or can one do this by spreading rumours? Maybe that is what influencers do, but a whisper campaign might be a good method of spreading information and misinformation without having to admit ownership of the rumour or unchecked facts. With the technology available today, one can do a blog, post a YouTube video, or make anonymous comments about anything. And, if you are an elected official, there is no end of ways to give your ‘private’ protest legitimacy for public consumption.

Well, until the referee steps in and docks your pay.

Take Charlie Angus' bill to put the boots to advertising petroleum products like they did with tobacco: like when was the last time you saw an ad promoting Esso premium at 189.9 per litre? Oh, and Charlie, wasn’t it your party who substituted weed for tobacco that we see advertised everywhere – ad nauseum (pun intended)? My private protest to you, Charlie, is that you’ve gotta write better lyrics for the Grievous Angels if you hope to get re-elected.

Speaking of elections, my protest, and it has been for some time, is that poor old Uncle Joe is exactly like that clerk in the law office said: an elderly man with a poor memory who is stumbling physically and mentally too often to even think of being president again - or now.

Anyone who thinks the Donald is mentally equipped for the job is stumbling themselves. His latest rant about NATO is scary. He did invite Putin to invade Canada, didn’t he? Just sharing my protests over the neighbour’s backyard fence, as it were. How long before my private protests go public in the USA? Will the high command at the Democrat and Republican headquarters hear my protests, and even if they do go public, do we need a 52 per cent majority to get action?

One has to be careful about public protests because if they get out of hand (foreign influences) and riot on Parliament Hill, you could be charged with sedition. Or littering. Maybe loitering. Notwithstanding, will it be the Ottawa Police Department, or the RCMP, or the Security guards at The Hill? One man’s protest did get out of hand in Washington D.C. when it went public on January 6 a few years ago.

Not that I have to look south of the border to have my reservations and perceptions about our politicians.

My private protest, and it is growing daily, is that Pierre is nothing but a windbag who has no constructive ideas. Everything is Justin’s fault, which it may be, but sheesh, give us something to ponder. I think my private protest will soon be going public and the polling numbers for PP are going to slip and stumble like you know who mentioned above. Not that my perception of Justin as being anymore than a micro-managing fairy godmother in colourful socks who will promise anything, funded over ten years, and then apologize, apologize and blame someone for not getting it right, but in the next term, he will, is an endorsement.

The private protest of one NL MP didn’t get the public support he needed.  How soon, or did we already have that public protest that J has to go? The trucker protest thingy did not quite work out, but maybe we should get on our bicycles (go Green, you know) and ride to Ottawa. We don’t need that 52 per cent majority like they do in the States because we can be a majority here with about 37 per cent of the vote when only 52 per cent of us vote. Oh, yeah, didn’t Mr Promises promise electoral reform back in 2015, 2019, and last month? If the bicycles don’t work, we can do like they are in Europe and drive our tractors (riding lawn tractors are good) to Wellington Street.

The need for a public protest was evident the other day as I drove by Anthony Rota's office.

One person was on the sidewalk waving a Palestinian flag. I thought that the one-person protest was going to fail: he needed public support. Maybe the majority of us don’t think it is worthwhile to protest in front of the MP’s (or MPP's) office. I was thinking that parliament had been recalled and Anthony was in Ottawa, but then, maybe Anthony didn’t get an invite. Then I did a double-take: I think that was Anthony himself out there with the flag! Was he trying to get himself thrown under the bus again?

There have been quite a number of private protests in North Bay about the proposed hockey rink but not enough coordination to call them a 3-P Public Protest. While the taxpayers who don’t, no longer can, never will, or do not understand the wealth the hockey rinks will bring to the City, haven’t got themselves organized to do a proper 3-P, it would not matter anyway: Staff and Council have their minds set on using that 26 million of our green tax money. I like to think that money came from the GTA or Alberta.

Perhaps the 3-P days are over. The Private Public Partnerships have generally not saved money or produced the desired results according to many professors and pundits. Our sprawling hospital struggles to find enough money to staff and attend to the rooms without beds; staff are exhausted, the horizontal instead of vertical design does not help either the staff or patients; waiting room times, although provincially normal, seem too long. Money for funding is in short supply. Where, in this partnership agreement, did things go wrong?  Or is this the new normal?

The new normal in protesting may also be here.

Newspapers, once the voice of the people, have all but disappeared or become irrelevant because of timeliness; the seemingly instant reporting by television is fading because of lost sales revenue (see Bell Media and CBC layoffs and closures); news reporters are being replaced by cellphone posts by nameless bystanders; and social media has become our source for news even though much is compiled by AI, not reporters.

If you want to protest, you must do it with keystrokes and pictures, with explicit or catchy words so the logarithm will pick up your private protest and go public with it. The question is: will anyone care enough to join you in your protest; and, is anyone with the power to make changes, listening? Just asking.

Bill Walton

About the Author: Bill Walton

Retired from City of North Bay in 2000. Writer, poet, columnist
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