Now with pictures: Activists warmly received – okay met with mild bemusement – during very cold “Die-in” for Bill C-393

Feel free to share the video below. With Parliament now on Christmas recess, we have the entire month of January to make our views known.

It was such a cold walk down to Yonge-Dundas Square this morning I was glad to be able to walk the full block south from Gerrard to Gould Streets through the corridors of Jorgenson Hall at Ryerson University.

I was dressed for the outdoors reminiscent of my childhood in Quebec.  Fluorescent red earmuffs, attached to a head band, were topped off with a black toque.  Beneath a red nylon ski jacket I wore a light turtleneck sweater underneath a warm fleece sweater.  I wore my usual blue jeans but underneath was a pair of what I call Truro trousers (Truro, Nova Scotia being the home of Stanfield’s underwear) also known as long-johns or long underwear.  My feet were covered with a pair each of cotton and wool socks, and I wore my dependable snow boots for their warmth, despite a total lack of snow.

Arriving at Yonge-Dundas Square, crossroads of the inner city and obscene consumption, I was greeted by a number of the organizers of today’s event – Bill C-393 Student Coalition, AIDS Action Now! and the HIV/AIDS Legal Network.

photo: Andrea Houston

Yonge-Dundas “die-in”

“Die-in” protest stops traffic at Yonge and Dundas

Toronto AIDS drug protest gets attention in Ottawa

Even with instructions having been emailed out and uploaded to the Facebook event page, we were handed index card-sized pieces of paper recapping how we would flood the intersection during its pedestrian scramble phases.  (Every third pedestrian signal is one in which anyone can cross from any direction to any corner of the intersection.)

photo: Claudia Medina

A whistle blew each time and about thirty of us headed to the centre of the intersection, with our signs supporting C-393, and for about ten seconds we either lay flat on the pavement (the classic die-in position), or got down on one knee or sat down with our legs straight out.  I was determined to lie flat, despite concerns I wouldn’t get up fast enough.  I succeeded for several consecutive scrambles, even starting to get up before the whistle blew, but eventually I just went down on one knee (as in the above picture) – that is until the end of this half hour exercise when we had decided, that during the final die-in, we would refuse to get up when the lights changed, leaving honking motorists to wait for several minutes.

photo: Claudia Medina

This was so well organized that the handful of police keeping an eye on things were in-the-know and assured our safety when bewildered motorists began honking their horns.

photo: Claudia Medina
photo: Claudia Medina

Bill C-393 is a private member’s bill in Parliament aimed at fixing “Canada’s Access to Medicines Regime” (CAMR) by cutting through the red tape blocking its effectiveness. The bill’s “one-license solution” would allow makers of low-cost, generic AIDS medications to distribute them to multiple countries in need. The House of Commons must restore this key provision, gutted from the original legislation,when debate on the bill resumes.

Because of too much red tape only one shipment of AIDS drugs has made its way to one country since the original bill was passed during the Paul Martin government.