Editorial: Protesting’s alive and well

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Protesting has been in the news of late.

Most dramatically, a group of high school kids from Parkland, Florida have mesmerized the world with their determination, passion and organizational skills. The March for our Lives movement they’ve spawned as a response to a devastating shooting incident at their school on Feb. 14 is perhaps the most inspiring thing to occur in the United States for decades. 

Some 800,000 people rallied to press for U.S. gun control reforms in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, joined by hundreds of thousands more in 843 other places around the world. Pain and anger of individuals and families affected by gun violence has been transformed into action and at least some asked-for regulatory changes have already been made in some jurisdictions.

Closer to home, under leadership of Coast Salish people near the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline expansion site on Burnaby Mountain, some 175 people engaged in civil disobedience in recent weeks to slow progress on construction of the federal government-approved oil pipeline. Several of those people were Salt Spring Island residents, and local MP Elizabeth May was also arrested for defying a court injunction on Friday.

Further escalations are planned, according to Protect the Inlet spokesperson Will George. That group notes that more than 23,000 people have pledged to “do whatever it takes” to stop the Kinder Morgan project. The province of B.C., state of Washington, cities of Vancouver, Burnaby and Victoria, plus 19 other municipalities are also formally opposed.

And while it did not take marching in the streets to get a response, a vociferous outcry against the NDP government’s proposed “speculation tax” resulted in exempting the tax in rural, recreational areas like the Gulf Islands. Opponents were articulate in making the case against applying the tax to second home owners, citing negative economic impacts and outright unfairness to people who are clearly not property speculators.

It’s true that major change may not occur overnight. But as the speculation tax case and the March for our Lives movement have already illustrated, governments are capable of listening and making changes demanded by citizens.

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