Strange thing about that riot at Queen's Park. The morning after, the papers were filled with dire warnings about how the display of violence would do more harm than good by turning the stomachs of all those well-meaning people who are appalled by homelessness.
But the surprising thing is the number of political and media pundits who refuse to condemn John Clarke and the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP). Partly, it's because the police by charging into the demonstrators did more to stoke the fires than to quell them. (See story this page.)
But I believe another factor has inspired the scattered voices of support for OCAP and Clarke, who demanded to address the legislature "in session," a Britishism as old-fashioned as the revolutionary rhetoric that's his trademark.
It's no coincidence that Clarke's zealous style was in vogue in Thatcherite England, where -- as in Ontario now -- a combative government relished a fight with enemies and rubbing their noses in their defeat.
Others before OCAP have lost to the Ontario Tories: teachers whose rules of work were changed after only a day and a half of committee hearings, leaving scores of deputations unheard; unions who saw the ban on scabs undone with no hearings at all; and I don't have to mention the 76 per cent who voted no to the megacity and saw it rammed through anyway.
So many of us have our own examples of government without consent. It's not that we approve of throwing rocks at police officers. It's more like a weary realization that, as in Maggie's day, when you push people so far, they start to push back. And when activists more genteel than Clarke see what happened last Thursday, they feel a certain bitter satisfaction.
If the authorities think polite society will sit idly by if they jail John Clarke, they had better think again.
Hands off John Clarke