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OP/ED: Olympics not optional

The Olympic Games are always a favourite venue for disgruntled demonstrators, and 2010 promises to be a pivotal time for activists in B.C.

We have a loose coalition of anti-Olympic, anti-global, anti-poverty and anti-capitalist advocates who have been organizing protests to take place during the Games but, mixed in with the activists who may have legitimate concerns and convictions, can be found extremists - those who believe violence, intimidation and vandalism are legitimate forms of protest.

It is unfortunate that those with criminal intent, few though they are, join these groups and try to agitate situations, seeking to capitalize on the larger stage provided by a major international event, such as the Games.

Some opponents to the Olympics have been painting a grim picture, predicting how the police are planning to suppress certain rights and freedoms. These Orwellian scenarios have been created to instill fear and generate conflict, but really they are ... well, ridiculous.

A prime example of how ridiculous these claims have become is this: when Rich Coleman, Minister of Housing and Social Development, introduced the Assistance to Shelter Act, which gives the police the power to bring homeless people to shelters when an extreme weather alert is in effect, some anti-poverty groups and B.C. Civil Liberties Association raised objections.

Many people believe that the legislation was introduced to shuffle homeless people off the streets during the Olympics, despite these same anti-poverty groups have been demanding for years that something be done to prevent the homeless from freezing to death in extreme weather. They get what they want and then object?

As I said, ridiculous.

The Olympic Games are supposed to focus on the achievements of the young athletes who have dedicated untold hours and sacrificed so much for their particular sport, and not some angry harpy snarling into a bullhorn as she (or he) incites a riot.

Feel free to protest, support any anti-whatever you wish and, as long as it is peaceful, that's your right and I will fully support that right. But I feel I must point out to all you anti-Olympic groups, that no amount of protest you do now will achieve anything.

The Olympics are coming, whether you like it or not.