Inside the Belly of the Beast: This is the End
by Darren Stewart
I am fighting back sleep to hear a panel of MPs discuss right-uniting strategies. It is my last night in the nation's capital.
I am at a friend's downtown apartment and it is late. I am lying on his couch, exhausted, on the cusp of sleep, after a whirlwind week. I awake suddenly as a trickle of drool threatens to leave my mouth and lodge on the couch. The television flickers CPAC on this, my last night in town. My life will never be the same.
I cannot leave the belly behind. My experience over the past eight months has created a monster. I know this. My friend takes a long drag on his cigarette. "You know, I bet we're the only people watching this right now."
Perhaps. It is three in the morning on a Saturday: We are political junkies now. We are rare among Canadians, particularly those in their mid twenties.
I’m engaged by this world, exponentially more so than I was in Political Science 100 several years back, when I spent an evening poring over a complicated flow chart showing the process of how a bill becomes an act. I was, and still am, a wide-eyed neophyte to this world. To quote a letter I received from a stranger in response to the columns who said he loved the "neophyte on the hill" spin I give… I had to tell him that the neophyte gig was certainly no act. Given the declining voter turnout among young people in the past few elections, it would seem that people have an unprecedented amount of apathy towards Canada’s political machine. But this column did strike a chord, likely because people can relate to the naivete in it, at least that is my bet.
And, really, this is far from an apolitical generation, isn’t it?
I will be taking next week off from this column but will return in two weeks time to write a series about the Free Trade Area of the Americas meetings in Quebec City.
For those who don't know: during the April 20-22 weekend in Quebec, heads of states from most countries in the Americas will meet to work on a draft copy of the FTAA, an international trade agreement that critics fear will take too much power out of the hands of government and give it to multinational corporations. Conservative estimates suggest 20,000 people will show up to demonstrate and march in the streets.
I will not be covering the meetings in the usual sense. I had an opportunity to get a press pass, which I turned down. I am more fascinated by what will take place outside the three-metre-high barricade being set up around the city.
These are my people.
These meetings are our Grateful Dead tours; and the agreements being negotiated, our great war, our Vietnam. My people plan to get arrested, plan to feel justified, plan to feel they've done good. In Quebec City everybody will be fighting their own battle. But many are the same who refuse to vote, refuse to pay attention to question period, cannot name their MP, refuse even, to read papers.
Darren Stewart would like to hear from you, mostly.