They wouldn’t let me deliver the letter in person. Said to put it in the mail box.” Obert Madondo upon attempting to deliver his letter to Parliament, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, after two weeks on a hunger strike protesting Bill C-10. Tuesday, March 27th, 2012
Do you remember Canada? The country we grew up in? The one where we were a civil society, in all the manners that entails…the act of being a civil society that is? A time when one could go into the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa, and be met by a smiling helpful face?
Well I do. I know Ottawa well…I grew up there. We often went to the Hill as children, sometimes just to walk the grounds, overlooking the busy Ottawa River, sometimes to go up the tower and peer down at the winding Canal below. It was one of our favourite haunts.
I am deeply saddened to share with you this news fellow Canadians….those days may be gone forever.
This is the story of one patriotic Canadian, who attempted to deliver a letter to Parliament just yesterday, and was made to stand outside a barricaded door at our Parliament Buildings, only to be told to put it in the mail. This is how shamefully the present ‘powers-that-be’ on the Hill treat citizens who attempt to excercise their democratic rights to deliver a letter in person.
Obert Madondo is a man who feels so passionately about what he sees slipping away from our Canada, that he is on a hunger strike to bring attention to it. He wants Canadians to take notice and see what is happening here under our very noses. He wants the international community to pay heed to the actions of a Canadian government that he views as dangerously determined to implement harsh laws that will prove potentially tragic for the people of Canada.
However, it seems our country’s government has been taken over by dark forces these days, otherwise known as the private prison and security industry, as it is a far, far less kind and less welcoming reception at the gates of our democracy, as Obert Madondo found out upon the completion of his march to Parliament Tuesday.
Mr. Obert Madondo, as of today, has just completed two weeks of an indefinate hunger strike protesting Harper’s newly implented and hastily rushed in Bill C-10. His walk to deliver his letter to Parliament was yesterday, and after two weeks on a hunger strike we can not imagine how much energy that must have taken. His planned march to deliver the letter had been publicised and shared widely on his blog, as well as on afew other Ottawa publications.
Last night I asked Obert about how he was received at Parliament, and about what had compelled him to go on a hunger strike
Obert I am sorry to hear you are feeling not so great! it is two weeks tomorrow right?
Two weeks tomorrow. Thanks. I’d my first jolt Sat. But I’ve been feeling much better in the last two days. I actually marched to Parliament with a couple of friends this afternoon.
oh wow that is good! how was the reception?
did anyone acknowledge you? in Parliament?
They wouldn’t let me deliver the letter in person. Said to put it in the mail box.
Luckily, I met my local MP Paul Dewar… we sat down for a brief chat on the steps to the centre block. And then he delivered the letter on my behalf.
oh wow they wouldn’t let you deliver it in person?
good your MP took it though!
- what did they give as their reason why you couldn’t deliver it in person?
No reason. They were just dismissive.
where did you have to go to ask permission?
and how much do you know about procedures at Parliament?
I approached the front desk. With regards to the procedures, I did a lot of research before beforehand, and found nothing to suggest that citizens weren’t allowed to deliver letter to the legislature. I think its all about the new tough-on-crime/anti-terrorism attitude on the Hill. Many have told me once the place was welcoming, but now we’ve security fences being elected around the building, RCMP officers carrying Heckler and Koch machine guns as “side-weapons”, etc.
yes yes it is terrible…go on please tell me how they reacted to you
The main door was barricaded and so I couldn’t go in myself. A friend went in through the temporary entrance and told them I was on hunger strike and was waiting outside with a letter to deliver to the PM and all the MPs and Senators. He asked to be directed to the right office to make the delivery. And they said to send it in the mail.
do you know who it was that told him that? a name or an office?
Unfortunately, my friend did not take down their name, but it was a guy at the front desk
hmmm… I see… yes…who was he to say no?
have the Ottawa media picked up on your story at all – other than the blog today?
The Metro has covered me twice. Centretown News also. But I’m still to make breakthrough with the big wigs
yes ok – I was wondering
have you contacted them?
I did, with the first two press releases. My media and PR team is releasing a third media release this week. And they’re working to connect directly with local journalists.
good – there should be more press! this article will be read world-wide as Allvoices is a global platform that is gaining in popularity due to the fact that citizen journalists are achieving what mainstream media appears to be unable or unwilling to do.
…so do you know what happened when your MP delivered the letter?
Thank you so much Michelle. The global audience is also crucial to the campaign’s success. I think the world need to know about Bill C-10 and it’s impact on the vulnerable in Canada
yes I agree Obert! you have been on my mind every day!
I think you are doing something so brave!
- this is real committment!
people need to know about you!
I left soon after he took the letter and headed back into the building. I’ll follow up with his office either tomorrow or Thursday
… And you’re playing an important part in the campaign – through this chat, following my updates, the piece you’re writing, etc. This is where I get the strength to fight on. And of course I strong believe I’ve a responsibility to speak out on this draconian bill
yes we all have our contribution to offer….. I am honoured to help to shed light upon your actions and your strength of conviction
this in turn will inspire others…
ok so what made you think of a hunger strike?
Compassion. I was nothing when I washed up on Canada’s shores in 2003. The violence I’d witnessed and experienced in Zimbabwe had mutilated me, physically and emotionally. I’m offspring of one of canada’s most important values – compassion. Canada embraced, nursed and healed me.
Canada restored that which the Zimbabwe of Robert Mugabe had taken from me – human dignity. Furthermore, canada believed in me, inspired me to unleash my passions, talents and and non-canadian experience. But since 2006, that canada has been going, going, going
Bill C-10 was the turning point
profound Obert…profound yes I see
so you see this compassionate Canada now as a thing of the past – within less than ten years? what has changed?
First, the “assault” on out parliamentary institutions and practices. The PM prorogued Parliament twice. last year he was found in contempt of Parliament. Second, the Conservatives are deliberately creating an environment of fear: they govern my whipping up unnecessary moral panic around terrorists, criminals, paedophiles, people who look different. Furthermore, we’ve opponents of officially policy, including elected reps, environmentalists, animal rights activists and anti-capitalism activists being labeled adversaries or enemies of the state – to be battled. Third, the new Act has mandatory minimum sentences and big changes to the youth criminal justice system.
It breaks my heart to imagine harsher and longer sentences for young first time offenders, especially when rehabilitative measures have proven to work for us. We send to to jail to come back as hardened crminals. And of course the mandatory minimum sentences will violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, especially: the right to liberty, the right to protection from cruel and unusual punishment
yes it is heartbreaking to think of young people being sent to jail for minor offences – do you know, or does anyone yet know… how does the new bill affect the charges for possession of marijuana, for example?
The new measures purport to tough on drug offenses. But they’re tough only on small-time drug offenders. They’re ineffective against serious drug traffickers and organized crime bosses.
yes this is so true, and apparently even the Texans tried to warn Harper against this new bill. Harper appears to have his own agenda, rumoured to be driven by right wing USA – would it be correct to say it is almost as though the GOP has taken over Canada with their Draconian war on the poor, and women? …and with their total lack of compassion? I find it interesting that you speak of compassion – please tell me more about this – in what forms did the compassion you found when you landed on these shores manifest?
what struck you the most? …especially after what you had endured over there? was there a defining moment for you when you embraced this country, when you fell in love with Canada?
(…I still cannot get over they wouldn’t let you deliver the letter…told you to mail it!
The compassion manifested in a lot of ways. I needed healing when I got here. I found it during my application for refugee status in 2003. I witnessed undeniable empathy in those I dealt with during the process, especially the adjudicator from the Immigration and Refugee Board. But now we have the Conservatives reappointing adjudicators like David McBean. Last years he was appointed to another 5-year term after he rejected all 169 cases he adjudicated since 2007. Then we have a new Conservative Bill that seeks to extend the wait period before Canadians who came here through sponsorship can sponsor foreign spouses to join them here.
I found compassion in society. The highlights of my life in Canada include include: my first Thanksgiving dinner; my first canoeing experience; and first visit to a cottage. I found compassion and healing-. My fear is that when a government consistently tell us the “other” is likely to be a terrorist, foreign war criminal, etc, society will close it’s doors to newcomers and people who look different. And I find it upsetting that on the world stage, the Conservatives pretend to care for women facing persecution while here at home, they purge any woman whom challenges male authority.
wow thanks for this sharing Obert – do you think that most Canadians are unaware of what is going on here?
..so true about the world stage versus the reality!..
A lot of Canadians are aware and they care, but I sense a lot of helplessness in the face of a majority government that’s determined to crush opposition and get it’s way. I’m on hunger strike to say we should never give up the fight for a Canada we believe in. I also experience compassion when i walked from Toronto to Ottawa and ended up homeless here. A local community group helped me to access a fund run by the city of Ottawa and that got me off the streets and straight into a decent apartment. It got me back on my feet. But the Conservatives are cutting funding to such social services…
At this point Obert signed off as it was getting late, and he was exhausted. Again, I thought about how it might feel to have gone two weeks without eating. I cannot bear the thought of it. I feel humbled by the integrity and the compassion that this man speaks of, to the point where he is willing to stake his life on it. His thoughts are for the youth of Canada who will be irreparably damaged by harsh jail sentences for minor offences.
This is a man who knows the reality of harsh regimes, a man who has fought for democracy in his own birthplace, Kenya, and who had found solace and most important of all, compassion, for the first time in his life, here in Canada. That is why he takes the most profoundly peaceful and heroic stance of initiating his protest of Bill C- 10.
In the Canada that I remember, the one I grew up in, when we could go visit the Parliament Building any time we wanted to, as we did often, laughing as we ran up the steps to climb up the Peace Tower just for the view… in that Canada of my childhood I like to think that a man such as Obert Madondo would have been given the common decency and respect to be granted more than a snub at the door.
I like to think that in that Canada, where we as children played amongst the tulips in front of these great halls of democracy, a much more civil ‘servant’ of the people of Canada would have at the very least attempted to help Obert to deliver his letter, if only even out of a simple sense of decency.
But that’s just what we seem to be losing here isn’t it?
Our simple sense of decency.
Harper’s government repeatedly states that Canadians want harsh new crime laws and penalties for criminals, a statement that most Canadians will tell you they support when it comes to pedophiles, but not to minor soft drug offenses. The Conservatives have undemocratically pushed the Crime Bill through without allowing any debate, while they themselves break rules and laws, and have, it would appear, perpetrated a massive co-ordinated voter fraud upon the people of Canada.
Obert Madondo says no. He’s willing to fight for our Canada.
The question is….are you Canada?
It’s the decent thing to do.
MichelleDevlin is based in Innisfil, Ontario, Canada, and is an Anchor for Allvoices.