Editorial: No time like the present

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It was with great dismay that we heard some callers to yesterday’s VOICE OF THE PEOPLE broadcast suggest that a picket at Heritage Quay, staged by a number of good governance and opposition groups, was ill-advised; what with there being a number of cruise ships in the St. John’s Harbour. Some of those callers suggested that the publicity could be harmful to our tourism product; others used words emanating from officialdom, that these types of action amount to “anarchy,” and still others suggested that the picket was “bad for business” and “disruptive.” You ever heard such malarkey?
It boggles the mind that there are some among us who, through blind party loyalty, would suggest that the peoples’ right to petition their government for a redress of grievances; to freely vent their discontent and ire with the murky and authoritarian (little or no consultation with the major stakeholders and the people) manner in which our patrimony is being ceded, should be abridged. Or curtailed. Or put on hold for a more convenient time. Say what? We submit that there ought not to be any hindrance to the right of the people peacefully to assemble to let their voices be heard. Freedom of association and freedom of expression are sacred pillars of our democracy, and the ridiculous suggestion that those voices of protest should lie silent until the tourists are gone, or not at rush hour is a slap to our values and precepts. Papa Bird is turning in his grave!
So what do these good folk who profess to be so concerned about bad publicity in the tourism market want those for whom “Enough has become too much” (Tim Hector) to do? Stage their protest about Heritage Quay, the St. John’s Development Corporation and our ports in the backwoods of the Shekerley Mountains? That the protesters wait until a quiet Sunday afternoon when St. John’s is deserted to assemble and voice their concerns? Or better yet, that they wait until midnight to picket the empty Heritage Quay boardwalk? To what end? Is the aim of a demonstration or picket not to maximise publicity, and get the message out to as many people as possible? Is it not to create some hardship and inconvenience so as to exert significant pressure on those with whom the picketers have a problem?
We here at NEWSCO fully support the rights of yesterday’s picketers to peacefully (and it was an orderly and peaceful demonstration) assemble in a bid to pressure this regime to “cease and desist” in its mad quest to consummate this unholy marriage with Global Port Holdings, despite the angst and misgivings of a large segment of our population. We share the concerns, and we are suggesting that when it comes to our democracy in action, there is no time like the present.
Democracy is a helluva thing, and it ought not to be stifled in order to give aid and comfort to the powers that be. Heck, it ought to be exercised so as to gain the attention of the government, especially when that government stubbornly thrives on ignoring the people. The longsuffering people of Haiti took over the main streets of Port au Prince to great effect, and they now have President Jovenel Moise’s undivided attention. Similarly, the fed-up people of France took over the main thoroughfare and leading tourist attraction of Paris, the Arc de Triomphe and the Champs-Elysees (two of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, mind you), to petition their government. They too now have the undivided attention of French President Emmanuel Macron. Seems there is nothing to concentrate the mind of officialdom like a good picket and demonstration. At rush hour! On the busiest thoroughfare! At the peak of the tourist season!
We subscribe to the notion that what took place at Heritage Quay yesterday morning is as good an indication as any that our democracy is alive and well. And we ought to be proud of that. The tourists, many of whom hail from countries with a vibrant democracy – places where there are boycotts, pickets, go-slows, sick-outs, strikes, demonstrations, civil disobedience and Days of Outrage almost constantly, must have been quite pleased to see that freedom of expression is thriving in our fair state. Indeed, many took pictures and spent much time looking on and asking questions. Some even joined in the picket! It was a great moment in our democracy and Sir Alexander Bustamente, the Reverends Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, Ralph Abernathy and activists all over the world are smiling in approbation.
Seems, there is no time like the present for standing up and fighting back! Just ask the aforementioned heavyweights who made picketing, demonstrations and strikes, a major part of their effort to make our world a better place.  The time for action is NOW! We have nothing to lose!

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