Protest Space: The Changing Demographics of Activism

by Meredith Gallinger

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ABSTRACT

This interdisciplinary essay will focus around forms of activism on Parliament Hill, on the Internet, and within the general Canadian political sphere. The essay examines power relations between government officials and activists, and how they are played out within the Canadian political sphere using the physical protest location of Parliament Hill as a case study. It looks to Parliament Hill as a space for interaction and political change. It shows the difference of power between demonstrators, the RCMP, and Kevin Vickers, the Sergeant-at-Arms of the House of Commons. Accessibility to the protest locations, especially Parliament Hill, allow for democratic interaction between political representatives, and those being represented. Security within these spaces is vital for the cognition of safe interaction, though the message of protestors must not be interfered with. There is arguably a need for disruptive protest within this sphere, which posed certain issues with security on the Hill. The paper uses the new proposed Bill C-51 as it defines terrorism in new ways and the change of categorization the new bill of terror threats and activism. It discusses how the public is reacting to the potential of the new legislation and what it means to CSIS’s surveillance. The proposed new Bill C-51 poses a good case study to see how power differentials exist between the government and the public, as it shows the potential future of the country’s terror legislation and definitions of terrorism. Therefore, Parliament Hill is seen as a physical location for the power relations to play out between these two groups.

KEY WORDS

Bill C-51, Power Differential, Space Differential, Parliament Hill

BIOGRAPHY

Meredith Gallinger is a fourth year Canadian Studies major at Carleton University with minors in French and History. Her research interests in Canadian studies are international security, activism and counter-terrorism. Her research interests in history are Ancient Greek cultures and literature. Her passions include travel and photography.