A field full of sheep graze around a giant ABC, spelled out in their pasture in hopes that Stephen Harper might see it from the air.
But the sheep don’t seem to mind as the sound of guitars and voices singing carry over their domain.
While this Metchosin field is quiet most days, Saturday was different. A few Metchosin friends got wind that the prime minister was supposed to be appearing at a Conservative fundraiser just down the road from those sheep, and thoughts of a peaceful protest began to form.
It all started with the idea of painting the sheep orange and snowballed from there, said organizer Shannon Carman. “We thought we’d gather Metchosin and have a little rally.”
While this was an ABC – anyone but Conservatives – rally, it did not look to promote one specific political party but wanted to be inclusive, while encouraging Canadians to get out and vote for change on election day, Carman said.
“The idea was to keep it fun and lighthearted,” she said as she bounced a fussy baby.
“We didn’t want to be angry, we wanted to be taunting.”
The group of protestors included a wide demographic, ranging from raging grannies to those wanting more support for veterans, and even a few clowns donning signage demanding more services for children. In total, roughly 150 assembled for the demonstration. Unfortunately for the group, the prime minister was not one of them. He wasn’t even on the Island Saturday. A Conservative Party of Canada spokesperson said Harper was scheduled to be in Newfoundland that day.
However, among those parading down William Head Road, was none other than Tony Turner, a former Environment Canada scientist who was suspended due to his viral YouTube protest song called “Harperman,” a rendition of which he led the crowd in.
“It showed me how it struck a chord with Canadians,” Turner said of his song, which was inspired by the ways he felt the current federal government undermined democracy.
Turner announced his resignation last week, hopped on a plane and landed in B.C. to rally protestors over the weekend. “I felt I had to do something,” he said. “I think this is the most important election of my adult life.”
Instrumental in getting Turner to the Island was Crystal Sawyer. She organized Victoria’s Harperman sing-along on Sept. 17, which saw roughly 350 show up for the event. She heard about last weekend’s Conservative fundraiser about three days before the event and instead of pursuing her own rally, joined forces with Carman for one big demonstration.
“And here we are,” she said with a smile. That smile vanished as she added, “In my lifetime I have never seen one issue unite so many Canadians. I’m downright embarrassed and shocked by the direction our government has taken.”
Sawyer wants her son to grow up in a country he could be proud of. “It feels like this country is at a crossroads in its history and it could go very well or very bad.”
She urged Canadians to get out and vote on election day Oct. 19. “The most important thing is that we vote together,” she said.