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It was magnificent. After three weeks of online and off line organizing, tens of thousands of people across generations and political persuasions took to the streets in 65 cities and town across the country and around the world to stop the erosion of democracy in Canada.
Organized mostly by activists in their 20's, using the tools of social media to reach each other across the vast distances of land and political discourse. they found that tens of thousands of Canadians really do want their voices to be heard in the democratic process. Prime Minister Harper made the mistake of pride and arrogance so often the downfall of autocratic leaders by saying that Canadians wouldn't care that he shut down Parliament. That's what really pissed them off.
The protests had enough of an impact that you have no doubt seen the TV news and reports from mainstream media, as well as on Facebook, Twitter and rabble.ca. But I am enough of an old leftie to think an analysis of its significance is useful.
As I said in my speech to the Toronto rally below, the method of organizing this rally was completely unprecendented in Canada. Activists in Europe have been using networking through social media and text messaging for a few years now. As I write in Tranforming Power, some of the most important protests we have seen in Europe over the past years have been organized this way. What the networking does is allow for individuals without organizational or institutional support to organize in a new way.
The Facebook group started by an indivdual student at the University of Alberta grew exponentially and allowed a space not only for 210,000 people to indicate their anger at Harper's proroguing Parliament but also a space for activists to begin organizing protests. In all my years of organizing, I have never seen a truly spontaneous protest like this.
Moreover, in a country like Canada, organizing a national demonstration without resources has been almost impossible. Even in the pro-choice movement in the 1980's, the most powerful movement of my life in Canada, we would not have been able to organize simultaneous protests in so many cities. It is the decentralization, the low level of entry, and the ability of anyone to call themselves part of the CAPP (Canadians Against Proroguing Parliament) as long as they oppose the Prorogue that makes it possible. So there were protests in Newmarket, Parry Sound,