A powerful grassroots movement for democracy is building in Canada

Am I the only one who saw Stephen Harper's nose grow on the National last night?  As he responded to Peter Mansbridge's question about how he had changed, he said that partisanship was now really the terrain of the Opposition.  Perhaps he hadn't consulted with his old pal Tom Flanigan who explained in today's Globe in a piece called Polarization, Ad Hoc Alliances and Fear of Election how completely partisan Harper's strategy is. Harper is in perpetual campaign mode, says Flanigan.  Maybe this time, Harper has outsmarted himself.

Growing public opposition to Harper shutting down Parliament is being felt at every level of Canadian society.  Whatever you are doing, whatever your issue, however cynical you may be about electoral politics,  please join this profound grassroots rebellion against Stephen Harper's assault on democracy.   If Harper behaves in such a highhanded way in minority, closing Parliament whenever he is worried about losing the so-called confidence of the House, attacking anyone who disagrees with him with all the power he has - from cutting off funding, to attack ads, to firing civil servants - what's he going to do with a majority?

The Facebook groups opposing the proroguing have well over 85,000 members now, and there are rallies being planned across the country for Jan 23.  If you are not on Facebook you can go to Citizens for Democracy and see all the events as well as several videos, and sign a petition too.  A la 350.org, if your town is not included on the growing list of rallies then add it and let the organizers know by posting it on one of their pages.  In the meantime, or if rallies are not your thing, write your MP or vote in one of the many online media polls about the questions, all of which so far are running at least 8 to 1 against proroguing.

This is a truly grass roots uprising.  In an article entitled "Grassroots fury greets shuttered Parliament" Susan Delacourt finds that an Anthropology student at University of Alberta who does not see himself as an activist  started the Facebook page, and similarly, students at campuses across the country are taking up the call for the rallies.  I am hoping that unions, ENGOs and other organzed groups with staff will come out to the organizing meetings and provide support to this grass roots leadership organizing under the slogan, "Get back to work!"

But it isn't just a grass roots rebellion - the media has turned against Harper on this too.  The Globe ran a full page editorial against proroguing.  The Toronto Star is on what looks like a campaign against it.  And columnists and op-ed writers are filling up pages with denunciations of Harper's varous assaults on democracy.  Rick Mercer is up to his old brilliance with a rant also published in the Globe and Mail that includes, "This prime minister has gone from the promise of an open, accessible and accountable government to a government that is simply closed." 

The Opposition parties are also angry of course, but the Liberals have announced that they will go back to Parliament as scheduled on Jan 25.  Continued organizing might convince them and the NDP to enter the Parliament buildings and insist on being seated. 

In some ways, this is like the grassroots opposition to Elizabeth May's initial exclusion from the Leader's debate last year, and the brief but powerful grassroots organizing that supported the coalition attempt, but it seems to be much broader and more powerful. What's more, it has media support, which is rare for any grassroots opposition to anything these days.

Given the weakness of the opposition, this is our best chance to deal the Tories a body blow, and let them and every other government know that Canadians will not sit still and watch the erosion of our democracy.

Even if Parliament opens Jan. 25, we won't have democracy

Even if Parliament opens Jan. 25, Canada's federal government will still be far from democratic.

As a result of Democracy Watch's campaigns and nation-wide coalitions, about 65 undemocratic and accountability loopholes and flaws have been closed/corrected in the federal government in the past 15 years, but see details about the 90 loopholes that still need to be closed to make the federal government democratic (and a link to an Action Alert to write a letter to federal party leaders about closing the loopholes) at:

And Harper has not eroded Canada's democracy any more than any other federal Liberal or Conservative government in the past 20 years. For example, Liberal Prime Minister Jean Chrétien prorogued Parliament 4 times, one of which was to call a snap election when conditions were favourable for the Liberals, and another of which was to avoid the release while he was Prime Minister of the Auditor General's report on the Liberals' Adscam sponsorship scandal. Chrétien also shut down the inquiry into deaths of detainees at the hands of Canada's military in Somalia, and the inquiry into deaths of Canadians because of tainted blood.

For a comprehensive, detailed report card on what Harper has actually done, and not done, in the area of democratic reform, good government and government accountability, go to:

And to see a comprehensive, detailed report card on what all the federal parties promised in this area in the 2008 election, go to:

So while the arbitrary prorogation of Parliament may be the proverbial "straw that broke the camel's back" -- the lightning rod that provoked voters' anger at the Harper Conservatives, it is very likely not the real source of the anger (secrecy, lack of action on environmental protection,

And again, opening Parliament on Jan. 25 (which is all the movement is calling for) will not make Canada a democracy.

Hope this helps.

Duff Conacher, Coordinator
Democracy Watch

P.O. Box 821, Stn. B
Ottawa, Canada
K1P 5P9
Tel: (613) 241-5179
Fax: (613) 241-4758
Email: dwatch@web.net
Internet: http://www.dwatch.ca

Since 1993, making governments and corporations more accountable to you, and changing Canada into the world's leading democracy

Date of Protests is January 23 not 21

Hi Maybe you cold correct the date in this piece.

Rally Day

Not Jan 21st but Jan 23rd. Otherwise, great post.

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