Saturday, January 23, 2010

Waterloo Anti-Prorogation Rally a Great Success

The Record estimated 500 at today's rally in front of Waterloo Square, but I made it more like 600.

It was a great event. The atmosphere was upbeat but serious. The speakers were excellent (in part because their remarks were brief) and they crossed the spectrum: all the opposition parties, independents, religious groups, and so on. It was organized brilliantly: many thanks to those behind it. Afterwards there was free hot chocolate and then a benefit for Haiti at a nearby eatery.



rockwife said...

interesting, cbc covered your rally before ours started, and they showed no video, but said as many as "200" were there.......I'm glad you posted this!

Anonymous said...

I think the Hitler stuff was not needed frankly.

Yappa said...

Hi Anonymous at 10:35 -

Really? I thought the Hitler thing was fun. Maybe it's the 3,000 times I've heard Conservatives say "Taliban Jack" that made it so amusing.

Mike said...

Jack deserved that moniker because he actually wanted to surrender to the taliban and give Afghanistan back to them.

Hence the name.

Mike said...

How many people in Waterloo? Almost a 100 thousand or so?

And only a few hundred showed up?

And you call this successful?

The Hitler comments earlier, notwithstanding, point out one glaring and obvious thing here. Hitler was able to rally millions. said...

On Saturday January 23rd Canadians made it clear we will not stand for our Prime Minister suspending our democracy. The day brought thousands to the street to speak out, to fight back against this abuse of power. Though the day may be over, the fight continues, democracy must go on and so to must our protests.


Yappa said...

Mike -

He wanted to end a war and so you think he supports the enemy.

I'm only responding to your ridiculous comment because it is so similar to thousands of Conservative comments I've been reading in Globe & Mail Comments pages lately.

Thoughtful, informed people have lots of reasons to want to end our presence in Afghanistan: the war is unwinnable; increasingly, the insurgents are regular citizens (not Taliban or al Qaeda) who object to what they see as a military occupation of their country; we are destabilizing Pakistan; and so on.

In the Globe yesterday, the most frequent Conservative comment was that democracy is inconvenient and so we should do away with it altogether.

People complain that Harper has brought US-style politics of nastiness to Canada. He has, but this is way beyond anything in the US. They at least believe in democracy, and don't argue to set their leader up as a dictator.

gingercat said...

I was at the rally and I was really surprised to see all the grey hair. I can add myself to that contingent. The other thing that I noticed is that most of the people there were as inexperienced at rallies as I am. Never sure whether to boo or cheer, our timing was terrible. But it was nice to see that otherwise ordinary people like myself had taken the time to attend.

I really enjoyed Karen Redman and Andrew Telegdi speeches. I was sorely disappointed that we lost these representatives in the last election to such small numbers. Please note that I am biased, I am a card carrying Liberal.

As for the comments on the Hitler stuff, I do agree that it was over the top. As much as I don't like Harper, it really left me with a bad impression.

Anonymous said...

Gingercat, I agree, think the Hitler stuff is way over the top, and just creates a diversion from the topic at hand.

I concur regarding your statement a lot of inexperienced people -- people that were felt driven to this one.

For those who mock the numbers -- getting people out to a rally in Canada is a rare occurence, especially one regarding such an obscure item as proroguing parliament.

The suggestion was that the facebook group would not result in physical presence...and it did...even on a saturday afternoon in January.

The suggestion is now that it won't impact the vote....though it is impacting the polls.

time will tell..what the influence of this event will be....but, there will be an influence

Anonymous said...

ps...of the people that I was standing with

One have never been to a rally and would probably self-identify as conversative

two hadn't been to a rally since the 70's

two were in their 80's and also identify as conservatives.

Ferd said...

I have to say I wasn't offended by the Hitler sign and don't think it was 'over the top'. In an ideal world people wouldn't make such connections, but the world of politics is a special place where civility is rare. You might wish it were otherwise but it ain't. [Signs like that are not meant to be taken literally.] For the rest I thought Gingercat was spot on.

marie said...

I would not put it past the Reform Cons to have had plants in the crowds and the sign with Hitler would be more likely a Con holding it sent by the traitor himself.

I also agree it wasn't needed but it did and there is nothing anyone can do about it now.

We need to move on and gather the people for the next rally. And I still think that the rally should be marching past the media's building with drums, bag pipes, metal pans, cow bells and whatever else it takes to make them hear.

Maybe its time we told the Media that we are proroguing them too. Anything loud to announce their presence. See if they ignore us then.

Bert said...

You know ?. I find myself hoping the liberal keep up the whole prorogation pressure thing and end up getting their wish, that the Afghan detainee issue gets investigated. When THAT issue turns out to be nothing, I wonder how long it will take for them to scrub the egg off their face.

Also, all those people who complain about PMSH being like Hitler would be in jail if he actually were.

Bert said...

BTW, Bob Rae also prorogued the Ontario Legislature 3 times during his tenure as premier.

Rae’s NDP won power Sept. 6, 1990. On Dec. 19, 1991, Rae prorogued the House. They didn’t come back until April 6, 1992. He then prorogued again, Dec. 10, 1992 — and didn’t come back until April 13, 1993.

By 1994, his government had run out of steam. They were running double-digit deficits and he’d doubled the debt. Some of his experimental policies proved laughable at best and disastrous at worst.

Limping badly, he prorogued for the third time on Dec. 9, 1994. The House did not sit again until the legislature was dissolved April 28, 1995.

Rae didn’t even bring in a budget that year.

James Bow said...

Intriguingly, two 'protesters' who held up a "Harper=Hitler" sign at the Winnipeg rally were found to in fact be Conservative Party supporters out to discredit the rally attendees. You can read more about it here.

James Bow said...


Again, you prove your own point: Bob Rae's actions helped solidify the public perception of the NDP government as desperate and overdue for replacement. Judgment was rendered in June 1995 with the Rae government's defeat. By your own standards, Harper should receive similar treatment, should he not?

And, on another topic, I have to say that I am also uncomfortable with any comparisons between any politician and Hitler. It's as simplistic an argument as the 'Taliban Jack' epithet that gets thrown around. It's not constructive, and if we want to hold our moral high ground, here, we shouldn't engage in the tactics of those we criticize. Clearly, by the actions of two Conservative agent provacateurs, feel that these epithets are similarly damaging to the side that appears to make them, and seek to use that against their opponents in an underhand way.

Yappa said...


The Globe and Mail published the PMO email with their latest talking point, trying to bash Rae.

First off, I agree with everything James Bow said. Also...

As I have said before, you should really do some research before repeating these PMO lies. You're old enough to remember Rae's term. He had a majority. When he prorogued, he was not dismissing the will of parliament. The issue with proroguing is that Harper is trying to subvert our democracy by ending the accountability of the PM to parliament. He is undermining parliament. Rae had the majority of MPPs behind him when he prorogued; Harper does not.

As far as I can remember, Rae's prorogations were not even controversial.

Finally, that was over 15 years ago. Get a grip! This is just a flimsy attempt to embarrass a member of the Liberal leadership. It's more politics of personal attack. It's more lying spin from the Conservatives, just like the continued repetition of the PMO's lies about Chretien's prorogations.

Shame on you.

James Bow said...

The point is, Bert, that people are upset with this prorogation not because of the process, but because of the abuse of the process. Most counter examples you cite are either cases where prorogation is used as intended (at the end of a legislative session, when most business has been conducted). In cases you've found where the process was abused, I can supply you examples which show that the premiers or prime ministers were criticized at the time for their abuse and, in some cases, punished by the electorate.

I know for a fact that people complained about the Rae government -- that it cut down drastically on sittings, and that they clung to power beyond the traditional four years. What happened next? They were reduced to third party status.

So, when prime ministers abuse the system, it _is_ a big deal, and people _do_ care. You would do well to remember that.

And it's not just New Democrats, Liberals or non-partisan centrists and leftists who care, either. Check out this conservative blogger, who is appalled by Harper's arrogance. She has the same advice for you.

Bert said...

The big thing with all of this is that all the people spoting off how undemocratice PMSH prorogation is, all prorogued their own legislatures themselves. I guess whether or not you approve or disapprove of either one is what makes you a liberal or me a Conservative.

Bert said...

Oh, BTW ? That whole "scandal" about those Harper = Hitler signs, I'll wait for a Conservative to debunk them. You'll forgive me if I don't take a Liberals word for it.

James Bow said...

"The big thing with all of this is that all the people spoting off how undemocratice PMSH prorogation is, all prorogued their own legislatures themselves."

Oh, excuse me? I prorogued a legislature, did I? I assume you meant that I stood idly by and cheered my party on when they did it. Well, that's a pretty bold assumption, and it's dead wrong.

Again, every example you've cited so far, was either not an abuse of the process or, if it was an abuse of the process, helped solidify in the voters mind that the party in question had lost touch with the electorate and needed to be punished.

Yes, Rae prorogued the provincial legislature. He was also defeated in the next election. Chretien prorogued in 2003, and was harshly criticized for it by Stephen Harper. The Liberals were reduced to minority status in the next election. It proves that most voters care when their governments, regardless of their brand name, govern arrogantly, they are setting themselves up for a fall. Harper is no different. The only reason you think he is, is due to your partisan blinders.

I am not a Liberal. I haven't voted for them since 1993. And I guarantee you that most of the 217,000 individuals who joined the Facebook group, and the 25,000 individuals who rallied across this country, are not partisans themselves. They are ordinary Canadians expressing their ordinary anger at their government. Disagree with that if you will, but if you dismiss these people as not 'real' Canadians, or mere partisans, you are showing that you are rapidly losing touch with the electorate.

Bert said...

If the Liberals think that prorogation is such a slap to democracy, then they ought to be screaming & pushing for an election. Maybe they can't because of the prorogation, I don't know, but if they really believed that prorogation is wrong, they really should be yelling loudly and calling for an election.

They are not, because they don't want to risk it.

Yappa said...

Hi Bert,

I believe you're right: Harper will be difficult to beat, for four reasons: he has a strong, very loyal base; his base keeps him supplied with a lot of money; the center-left parties are split; and Ignatieff is still only a year into his leadership. (Even Harper couldn't win an election a year into his leadership; all new party leaders take a while to get up to speed, and Ignatieff may take longer due his lack of experience.)

I would be very concerned about having an election that Harper wins, even with a weakened minority, because it would set some very bad precedents: not just prorogation, but also a shift to executive power and lack of accountability to parliament. Harper might even say that the win gave him a mandate to do all those things.

These precedents are not just a threat to non-Conservatives. They will carry over to the next Liberal government too.

The reason many Canadians (like myself) are so concerned about this is that it means that our democracy is no longer based on the will of the people. Anyone who can grab power can hold on to it through methods like prorogation, even without having the support of the majority of elected representatives.

You can argue that our electoral system allows parties with less than half of the popular vote to have a majority government, but I can live with that. This is something new, much worse, and very scary.

I think the reason that Harper and some of his supporters (the ones who understand what's happening and still stupport it) don't care about this is because they fundamentally don't care about democracy. They want a more libertarian system: very small government, no social safety net, no government health care, no public schools, minimal federal powers, more referendums. They don't care if they make our democracy completely dysfunctional because that might kill it off completely. (That's also why they wrote that manual for Conservative MPs on how to disrupt committees.)

It reminds me of terrorists in the 1970s who said that they attacked the state to force it to fight back so as to expose the totalitarian nature of the state. In this case, Harper grabs power which shows that power can be grabbed which shows that the system is broken. Or something like that.

Back to the election, the other problem is of course that whoever calls an election will be punished with a drop in votes. Ignatieff was doing fine in the polls until last August when he said he'd stop supporting Harper. Nobody expected how angrily the Canadian public would react to that, and he's just starting to recover.

I have believed for some time that Harper's plan was to create a budget that the opposition parties couldn't support, forcing them to vote it down, resulting in an election. I imagine he has a bevy of attack ads all ready to go. Who knows what lies he'll come up with next: maybe he'll claim Ignatieff eats little babies. (Whatever nutty crap the PMO spits out, Conservatives seem to believe it as gospel.)

Bert said...

That last post of your's was very well said, Yappa. I may not agree with all of it, but for what it's worth, it was sucinct and well written.

Yappa said...

Hi again Bert,

Nice of you to say that! I guess in the end we have to agree to disagree on much of this.

I think in terms of base values there's more than unites us than divides us...

Bert said...

So, I guess Dalton McGuinty's prorogation of the Ontario Legislature is OK ?.

Yappa said...

Hi Bert,

We've had this discussion before.

There is nothing wrong with prorogation to end a session that is complete. It is the only way to have a speech from the throne between elections. It was perfectly appropriate for Chretien to prorogue in 2003 when Martin took over, for example.

However, "no other English-speaking nation with a system of government like ours — not Britain, Australia or New Zealand — has ever had its parliament prorogued in modern times, so that its ruling party could avoid an investigation, or a vote of confidence, by other elected legislators."

The former head of the Military Police Complaints Commission, Peter Tinsley, said that this is a crisis in Canada's system of government; that the supremacy of Parliament is at stake; and that Harper's prorogation creates a dictatorial environment. He also said that it looks like prorogation is part of a government cover-up of its policy about the treatment of Afghan detainees.

The Hill Times

In both recent prorogations, Harper prorogued to avoid his accountability to parliament. That is an issue of a minority government, but not an issue of a majority government - which by definition has the support of parliament (unless its caucus rebels). I mention this because McGuinty has a majority.

The Globe wrote today, "The Ontario Premier wants to put forward a Speech from the Throne this spring - a common way for governments to set the agenda for the second half of their terms and, in his case, to try for a fresh start after a difficult 2009. But the only way to prompt one is through prorogation..." Due to Harper's abuse of prorogation, McGuinty is only proroguing for one week.


Harper's two prorogations are important because he is changing the nature of our democracy: he is removing the accountability to parliament that a prime minister should have. He's not doing this in an above board way, but is doing it by shutting down parliament (through prorogation) whenever parliament tries to hold him to account. In first case, it was a no-confidence motion; in the more recent one, it was to hand documents over to the Afghan detainee committee. He is usurping power that is not his. This is an extremely serious and very negative precedent to set.

You obviously don't give a hoot about any of this, but you will if the precedent is set, we get a Liberal minority government, and that government acts in contempt of parliament by proroguing.

Finally, the Afghan detainee issue is really important. We have armed troops in another country using deadly force against the residents of that country, and we are breaking the Geneva Convention. The Liberals have said right from the start that their investigation includes government actions under the Martin government, and is not just related to the Harper government. It is our obligation under international law to investigate this matter, and it is our moral responsibility to investigate it.

I know the Conservative line is that only one detainee was mistreated and he was only hit with a shoe; and all the detainees are dangerous terrorists. That is simply not true. Lots of innocent Afghans have been detained and have been grossly mistreated. Our troops are not mistreating them; they are following government policy to hand the detainees over to Afghan authorities. That policy is also causing those detainees to not be monitored - and that is illegal under international law. Look up Richard Colvin on YouTube and listen to his three-part statement to the committee.

Bert said...

Hi Yappa. Yes, I know we've had this discussion before.

So Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty has decided to prorogue the provincial parliament. Where are the fulminating editorials, the angry protest rallies, the open letters from academics hyperventilating about the unprecedented assault on democracy?

Those who recently attacked Prime Minister Stephen Harper over the same issue will insist this prorogation different, that Mr. McGuinty is forcing his legislature into only a "limited break" of a couple of weeks or so. But the prorogation of Parliament isn't much longer -- just five weeks, given that the House of Commons was scheduled to be on its annual Christmas break until late January anyway.

But the uneven coverage shouldn't surprise anyone: The treatment of the Tories has been hypocritical from the moment they asked the Governor-General to suspend Parliament.

For instance, no one in modern Canadian political history has used prorogation more than Bob Rae, the federal Liberals' chief critic of Mr. Harper's suspension. Three times in the five years he was Ontario premier, Mr. Rae suspended the legislature for approximately four months each time -- and he had a majority government. Yet there has been barely a mention of Mr. Rae's own use of prorogation when he had the chance.

We are uncomfortable with Mr. Harper's prorogation and have said so. We're not trying to defend it. What troubles us is the way Conservatives are pounced on for the same things Liberals get away with in stony silence.

The ‘limited break’ phrase shows up in the headlines of many media outlets who obviously received their talking points from lefty headquarters, but when you look at the Ontario Legislative Assembly site, there doesn’t seem to have been a whole lot of activity since December 10 (H/T Gabby at Crux of the Matter.)

Yappa said...

Hi Bert,

Would you please read my last comment? I explain the difference between Harper's prorogation and those of previous PMs and premiers. It isn't about length.