Toronto Proroguing Protest: polar bears and Spartans

The Canadians Against Proroguing Parliament Toronto protest saw thousands gather in Dundas Square. Below, Toronto Liberal MP Rob Oliphant is with the Spartans.

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Toronto NDP MP Olivia Chow.

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Toronto Liberal MP Martha Hall Findlay.

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Liberal Senator Art Eggleton.

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Playwright Brad Fraser.

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The people.





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Toronto Proroguing Protest: polar bears and Spartans

  1. My one and only question: why weren't these people marching in the streets when Chrétien was prorogued Parliament 4 times during his 10 year stint as Prime Minister?

    Answer: it's only offends our left/lib sensitivities when the Conservatives do it.

    • I'm so sick of willfully ignorant party hacks. What a pile of crock. If you can't understand the difference between all but one of the times that Chretien prorogued (once was to stick it to Martin, and still is not really comparable to a party repeatedly abusing parliamentary procedure to avoid our democratically elected MPS), then you are either a) on the payroll of the CPC, or b) willfully ignorant. Quit trolling and get a life.

      • "All but one of the times"? That implies that there was actually some other time which, however -perhaps out of willfully ignorant party hackery – you say nothing about. But see here for details:

        hhttp://www.theglobeandmail.com/blogs/spector-visi

        • Yes. There were other times that Chretien prorogued. Nobody is denying that. Try reading.

          • For someone who is accusing me of not reading other posts, its curious (or maybe not so curious) that you wouldn't bother to read my post, or maybe just deliberately just its contents ("willful ignorance") which actually explicitly quotes the previous post acknowledging additional prorogations. My question had to do with the unwillingness, in the face of that admission, to consider the implications of the point. After all, if it's claimed that he did nothing comparable to Harper, it would be necessary to consider what he actually did, instead of vaguely acknowledging its existence but then ignoring its implications. But, as the Spector link I posted shows, some of Chretien's actions do parallel Harper's in clear ways. "Try reading" as you would say – or, more specifically, first, try reading the two lines that I wrote above, which obviously acknowledge a point which you claim that they don't, and then, once you've managed to get through two lines, see if you're up for reading a few paragraphs of Spector. Then, you can post something accusing him of not acknowledging something which he explicitly acknowledged and, just to show how sophisticated you really are, add "try reading" or some such nonsense after that.

    • While I'm not defending Chretien's 2002 prorogation (the only one that is comparable to the current situation), that was much less problematic than Harper's two prorogations because Harper only has a minority. The House is thus being denied the opportunity to vote no-confidence in Harper's Government — as it was expressly intending to do in 2008 and as it might have done here. These prorogations are thus a violation of the principle that the Government is accountable to Parliament.

      Of course, you may be right about a large slice of the protesters today, but there were plenty of people at the Toronto rally who weren't leftists or even reflexively anti-Harper — myself included.

      • I attended the rally in Halifax with my husband. I believe CBC downplayed the number – somwhere areound 200, yet CTV said there were about 500 IIRC. What a surprise from CTV.

      • Jack, Peter Hogg, constitutional expert, expressly distinguishes the Dec. 2008 prorogue and the Dec. 2009 prorogue. The 2008 prorogue was a bigger deal because of the confidence issue, as you point out. But not the Dec. 2009 prorogue, as Hogg stated, in this instance, Harper presently has the confidence of the House.

        Jack, you are left/lib, you supported the December 2008 coalition, which is fine of course but you're not a politically disinterested observer.

        • Amen to more comments from politically disinterested observers.

        • Certainly not politically disinterested, but I'm not reflexively anti-Harper. And I'm not left/lib either, whatever that means apart from "agrees with jarrid."

          • And I'm not "left/lib either". Give me a break Jack. You hold left/lib political views. That's nothing to be ashamed about.

          • Why do you say that? I'm not in favour of altering the current social arrangement, so I'm not a leftist. I'm not even much of a classical liberal: I don't glorify the individual, I think a balance has to be struck between the strength of the collectivity and the strength of the individual. If I may say, you toss around that "left/lib" label pretty freely for anybody who's not on the right. But it's not a binary system.

          • But you'll agree that treating continuums as though they were binary systems seems to be appealing to some.

            And Jack, you're either with me or against me on this.

          • I'm truly intrigued by your sudden declaration of non-partisanship Jack.

            You were a full backer of the 2008 Coalition and went into quite a funk after its dismal failure last December and January. Again, it's hardly a shooting offence. I know that the "official" spirit of this particular anti-prorogation protest is supposed to be non-partisan, but you don't need to get all revisionist (used in the non-technical, non-marxist sense) on us Jack.

            You're not one to usually patronize BC readers.

          • BC readers . . . I don't get the reference.

            "Partisan" does not mean "having an opinion," it means "shilling for a particular faction." I was never a backer of the 2008 Coalition as a government, I was a backer of the constitutional legitimacy of said coalition; a distinction not much observed at the time, but the very blurring of it served only to push me further into my anti-anti-Coalition stance.

            I just attacked Ignatieff pretty strongly, for example. When have you ever done anything but defend Harper?

      • Parliament is not being denied the opportunity to vote no-confidence, only slightly delayed. Big difference.

    • Jarrid it's partially because Harper has gone against everything that he's ever said he stood for and it's also because of the way he is treating the system (and just so you know Chretien got some heat as well at the Toronto protest anyways for the way he ran parliament when he was in office). But Harper ran he electoral campaign on accountability and transparency – the debacle with the Afghan Detainee committees is a pure example of being unaccountable and lacking all transparency. He's also stood against appointing Senators, that was his main talking point, and he's come out and admitted that a bonus of returning in March will be having the senators he appointed come in at that point in time. He chastised the other parties for not working with the government but tried to kill their funding before last years proroguing and in September when the NDP decided to go against the Liberals attempts to overthrow the Conservatives Harper said he wouldn't work with or make any deals with the NDP. His record is awful, under Harper Canada's standing on the international stage has plummeted….what exactly is so great about this so-called leader again?

      • Has any politician ever not run an electoral campaign promising more accountability and transparency?

          • It's not "falling back" on anything. The claim above is that Harper's actions are somehow exceptional. But if the claim is that they're exceptional because he campaigned (two elections ago) on some statements invoking "accountability" or "transparency", then there's just nothing exceptional about that, especially when compared to something like this for example:

            http://www.theglobeandmail.com/blogs/spector-visi

          • I mean "falling back" on the excuse that the PM is no worse than all the other PM's one has spent countless hours denouncing.

          • I know that that's what you meant, but it's not what I was saying. The argument being put forward is that Harper is exceptional; I'm pointing out that at least in certain crucial ways he isn't. That's not an argument in favor of Harper, so its not an "excuse". Its just an trying to interject some consistency or rigor into the arguments against him.

          • "he campaigned (two elections ago)"

            So Harper's ideals were youthful folly that he's outgrown?

          • "because he campaigned (two elections ago) on some statements invoking "accountability" or "transparency"

            Uhm, you make it sound like it was a footnote to his primary campaign platform. Harper made 'cleaning up the place' front and centre. He chose to make 'accountability' his first deliverable with all kinds of emphasis on his Federal Accountability Act, including a lot of back patting for the 'changes' he had made (even though in reality The FedAA was about all kinds of things besides accountability). So Harper's relative emphasis on accountability was indeed exceptional.

            Now, to be fair, while the degree to which he emphasized improved accountability and transparency was exceptional, he is certainly not exceptional in his inability/unwillingness to deliver his campaign promises.

        • So if all we can expect is the same-old, same-old, why on earth do we want to keep this guy who has repeatedly not only not fulfilled his promises, but actively worked against them?

    • It's so exhausting having to have the same conversation a million times – and make the same points over and over and over again. I guess that's what the Cons are counting on. Just exhausting us to death with their limitless stupidity.

      • Nope. Just a simple observation that this selective prorogue outrage is a highly partisan campaign.

        Had this same crew been as outraged back in 2002 when the same thing happened when Canada was practically a one-party state, they would actually have something that they currently lace – credibility and bona fides.

        • Chretien's 2002 proroguement did not shut down the inquiries, as Harper's did now.

          His proroguement was not in the face of an order of parliament to produce documents.

          His prorogument *was* in the face of a change of leadership of the Liberal party.

          His proroguement was, in essence, precedented. Harper's is simply to avoid parliament.

          • Chretien's 2002 prorogation may not have shut down inquiries, but that's partly just a reflection of the fact that he didn't need to prorogue to shut down inquiries. See the link here (or, as you would say, "try reading"):

            http://www.theglobeandmail.com/blogs/spector-visi

            I have yet to see any Liberal apologist on this board acknowledge the connection between Chretien and Harper on this point – no doubt because its easier for them to write "try reading" than to actually, uh, read something.

          • Wow – you're really riding that one article all over the place. Like a little hobby horse.

            Got anything else to add? Jarrid talks constantly about that Hogg guy as though he has a new point every time.

          • So far as I can see, none of the Liberal apologists on this board have addressed the point that Spector makes, which refutes their own claim that there is something exceptional and thus more deserving of protest than in Harper's actions. Incidentally, "that Hogg guy" happens to be the most renowned and respected authority on Canadian parliamentary procedure and Canadian constitutionalism in the world today. That doesn't mean that he's always right but it does make him pretty important, as you'd know if you'd studied these issues in an academic setting, i.e., if you'd ever studied them at all.

          • That's both an ad hominem argument and rather absurd: I was in high school at the time of the Somalia inquiry, and a lot of the CAPP people were just out of kindergarten. Safeguarding Parliamentary supremacy was thus not top of our minds. And actually I've pointed out, along with others here, that Chretien had a majority government when he prorogued, so there was no danger of his government falling, i.e. he wasn't avoiding a potential vote of non-confidence, as Harper absolutely was in 2008 and might be suspected of doing now. Both these recent prorogations are more analogous in that respect to the Martin government's delaying of Opposition Days towards the end of its mandate so as to deny the House an opportunity to vote the Government out. IMHO we're in part feeling the ugly effects of that precedent now.

            All respect to Hogg, but the principles of this debate are sufficiently clear that there is no need to argue from authority.

          • There's nothing "ad hominem" about my post. I wasn't attacking any individuals. And obviously its the case that some people involved now weren't adults back then, etc. I wasn't criticizing the actions of individuals. I was just addressing the question of how exceptional Harper's actions are. And Spector makes a very important point about that which is ignored by the many Liberal apologists here. Also, I wasn't "arguing from authority", just pointing out that he's a lot more than some random guy – doesn't make him right, but it does give his opinions some weight. However, on the question of avoiding a confidence vote, I think that was a more legitimate criticism in the fall, since there wasn't previously any indication that such a vote would occur in this case, so if its going to be put off, it won't have been by much anyway.

          • Your problem is in equating anti-prorogation people with "Liberal apologists." It's simply not enough to say "the Liberals did it too so stop being a hypocrite": that doesn't address whether or not what the Liberals did is right.

            Hogg shouldn't be expressing any public opinions if it's known that he has the GG's ear. He's not the sovereign and he should keep quiet, if he's in that unofficial position. He can write the definitive history of these questions when he retires from that unofficial position, or he can assist the GG in formulating her rationale if she decides to do so.

            there wasn't previously any indication that such a vote would occur in this case

            No, because we hadn't reached that stage, as we could have done. Before we reached that stage, scrutiny was suspended. Are you seriously arguing that it's constitutional for the PM to turn off democratic scrutiny whenever he pleases? That the only function of the House is to vote confidence or non-confidence in the Government? Because that would be a decidedly novel position to take. We could just do away with QP in that case.

            On the contrary, there are two forms of accountability that the Government owes to Parliament.
            First, there's the fundamental question of whether or not the Government has the confidence of the House. It currently does because you have it, on paper, until you lose it. But that is somewhat problematic when you deny the House, as first Martin and now Harper have done, the opportunity to vote non-confidence.
            Second, there's the daily accountability of QP. That was where this Government was taking so much heat — and possibly misleading the House (which is what this is all about). To prorogue in order to avoid having to answer questions — which a child could see was Harper's motive here — is to deny that the Government is accountable in this second, daily way.

          • I don't equate all anti-prorogation forces with Liberal apologists, just many of the commenters in these threads. And again, I'm not saying that "the Liberals did it too" is an excuse, I'm just saying that understanding that clarifies what's going on here, i.e., that it's not nearly as exceptional as some people here make it out (because of their partisan biases). As for Hogg it's worth pointing out that he's been speaking out in this way while advising the GG for some time; and he's not alone – other expert advisors who are well known for their anti-Harper positions have done the same. Again, that doesn't necessarily make it right. But its a complicated issue: if you want the GG to have the best legal advice in the country, you're going to need people who have separate careers and, as academics, that means that their opinions will often be more-or-less known. Again, we could debate just what's appropriate. But that's a separate issue. Anyway, I was actually against the prorogation in the first place, so I agree with some of your other points, although not others.

          • I agree with all of your points, except about Hogg. If it's known, or even whispered, that he is informally advising the GG, he has a duty not to speak out in this way: it compromises the GG's authority. Is he speaking for the GG? Not officially, of course, but it leaves us uncertain of whether his public statements reflect his informal advice or vice versa. Really, it should not even be known who is informally advising her, but if it is then those persons should cease and desist from making public statements or publishing on these questions at the present time. They all have tenure or other gainful employment and one would like to think that their sense of public duty overrode their vanity.

          • "as you'd know if you'd studied these issues in an academic setting"

            But wouldn't that make me an elite, and therefore irrelevant?

          • Not at all. It wouldn't make your opinion necessarily valid, but it would make it more informed than it is now.

          • Brilliant. And you say this with the full weight of your academic record behind you?

          • This question is meaningless.

          • Egg Head respectfully you have missed the mark on two key points.

            1) Spector in denouncing the prorogation at the out set of this debate made clear Harper was crossing a line (even if it was drawn in the sand as opposed to legisaltion)

            2) you are overstating Hogg's position in the academic pecking order.

          • (1) I didn't deny that Spector was critical of the prorogation (I am as well); but he also understands that, while it may be wrong, it's not as bad as some critics are saying, or at least not in the way that they are saying, because some of the specifics charges against Harper have a longer history than they admit. And, on that point, if you look at the post I linked to, he actually argues that in some ways Chretien was worse:

            "Compared to that unprecedented action by the Chrétien government, Mr. Harper's decision to postpone opposition questioning on Afghan detainees that will inevitably come with a new session — while deplorable — looks almost benign."

            (2) As for "Hogg's position in the academic pecking order" – well, there is no official ranking on this question, so we're probably not going to get very far on this point, but I would still maintain that Hogg is recognized, both in Canada and the world at large, as the foremost living expert on our constitutional order. (Or who would you suggest that his competition is?) If you want to say that you prefer this or that other 'big name' (or not-so-big-name), that's fine, and, like I said, just because someone has that rank doesn't mean that they're right on any given issue. But Hogg is certainly at or near the top of the totem poll which means, at the least, that his considered opinion needs to considered very carefully (in the post to which I was originally referring he's dismissed as "some guy").

          • Because any connection between Harper and Chretien is a mugs game.

            In case you didn't notice.. Chretien's no longer in politics. If that's what you're recommending for Harper, then I'm right with you.

          • Your post above engages in what you here call "a mug's game" that is, trying to establish a connection between Harper and Chretien (a negative connection). But some of the connections which you are claiming do not exist do exist, i.e., Chretien trying manipulating parliament to shut down an inquiry.

        • Jarrid, here is one difference:

          “When a government starts trying to cancel dissent or avoid dissent is frankly when it's rapidly losing its moral authority to govern.”

          - Stephen Harper, Canadian Press, April 18, 2005

          Was it partisan then too?

          • danby – Paul Martin was running scared pretty well during all of 2005. He deliberately tried to avoid confidence votes and jettissoned his principles and let the NDP re-write his budget. When the NDP put him out of his misery when they voted non-confidence in November of that year, Paul Martin was widely regarded as an unprincipled, scared ditherer.

            Harper will face the opposition on March 1st. They will get their kick at the cat. And Harper won't betray his principles. He'll face the electorate, if necessary, in an election, with his dignity intact, unlike Paul Martin.

          • Because letting the NDP and the Liberals rewrite your budget is a more principled thing to do?

          • Jarrid – he will face his opposition with his pride intact, but his principles have been compromised. The weight of government has forced SH to adapt and morph into a clinging, political animal whose actions are no better than the former leaders he vilified. The difference is he did make a big show of saying he was ushering in a new era of accountability and his moral authority to govern is now being questioned.
            I don't for a second think this is over. Stephen is a wily player and he will come out the other side of this, but time is not on his side. Precious momentum has been lost and Canadians are scrutinizing him beyond simply being the alternative to those corrupt Adscam Liberals. His bag o' tricks is by no means empty, but the days of indifference are drawing to an end.

          • Honestly. I can't understand why people waste time trying to rationalize with Jarrid.
            It's not his fault his programming is so limited, with zero room for growth or depth.

    • Jarrid: instead of spending all of your time complaining about the partisan behaviour of left/libs, why not try to start a Facebook grassroots movement of your own? You could call it "The Liberals Did It Too" or something like that. The same tools are available to you as are available to the CAPP people.

      Of course, you might not get as many people to rally to your cause as have rallied behind the no-prorogation cause, but hey, that's how democracy is supposed to work – everybody puts forward their ideas, and the best ideas win out.

      I suspect that some pro-Conservative supporters may have become a bit complacent over the last few years – the Conservatives, thanks to their enormous financial advantage and their single-minded focus on political gamesmanship, have become used to controlling the nation's airwaves. They may have actually come to believe that the majority of the nation is behind them, when all the available polls and election results say otherwise. (Note: when 35 to 40 percent of the electorate vote Conservative, that means that a majority of voters are opposed to them.)

    • Yeah how about we stop arguing whether the Conservatives are worse, or the Liberals were worse, and fix the system such that neither of them can shut down the voice of the people for their own partisan interests?

    • Do I need any further proof that this is a partisan quest by the anti-Harper left/lib crowd. The photos speak volumes to be sure. And my simple question as to whether their isn't partisan motivations in this anti-prorogation protest earns me a -19 comment.

      I rest my case.

    • You can always tell how "grass roots" a rally is by how many of the placards are professionally printed with website addresses on them. This is usually a clear indication of a funded organization, and thus a vested interest.

      The clearly partisan involvement in these rallies demonstrate the total lack of grass-roots engagement in the issue. This is simply an attempted re-framing of the coalition of last year. And a failed one.

  2. Looks like an NDP rally. Lots of orange.

    • I was there – it was not at all an NDP rally.

      There were boxes of the orange signs around the perimeter of Dundas Square, lots of people picked them up for the march.

    • I've seen .. with my own personal eyes … NDP rallies. No resemblance at all.
      Not nearly as grim and intense. And it almost always rains at NDP rallies. Just
      an unfortunate fact.

    • Nope Buddy Been – It was an anti- CON PROROGUE rally! Twist it as you may, those are the Canadians who were at the rally I was at in Victoria!!!!

  3. Jarrid understands the difference. He's just trying to change the channel.

    • Not at all, as I said above, had this same crew been as outraged back in 2002 when the same thing happened when Canada was practically a one-party state under the Liberals, they would actually have something that they currently lack – credibility and bona fides.

      The anti-prorogue's selective outrage is the dead giveaway.

      • Shorter jarrid (for the last three weeks): Look over there! Chretien! You're all partisan!

  4. I don't think that all of the people holding the signs are NDP supporters, I'd guess that a small fraction were. The NDP had a bunch of people handing out those signs, so I'm guessing that a lot of people just took them because they were there, not because they necessarily vote NDP. Easy to see how someone who wasn't there might see it that way, though.

    • Yeah, the black signs far outnumbered the orange signs where I was (middle of the square pre-march, then at the tail end of the march). I think Mr. Raphael just liked them aesthetically.

  5. Jarrid you are right on. If all these leftwing nuts would be in power Canada would be in dire streets. Harper would be well advised to pay no attention to these idiots.

    • Well thanks for at least coming right out and saying the Conservatives have no interest in governing all Canadians.

    • I'm sorry, were you saying something?

    • The streets weren't that dire. Just a few potholes. And I think they're a municipal responsibility.

  6. Wow! My "Electoral Dysfunction" sign is shown!

    (Note: I did not design the poster. I just stapled the sign. I recognize the green board.)

    • I laughed out loud when I saw that sign in the pictures!

  7. Good analysis Jack. Thanks for sharing it with us.

  8. A small town (approx. 50000. A university town but most of the students
    live within driving distance of home and,it being a Saturday,a lot of them
    were home letting mommy do their laundry or feeling seedy after Friday
    night. So an excellent turnout, I thought. Followed by a march to Peter's
    local office.

    http://www.thecasket.ca/stories.asp?id=1091

    And, yes, the local rag is called "The Casket".

  9. A small town (approx. 50000. A university town but most of the students
    live within driving distance of home and,it being a Saturday,a lot of them
    were home letting mommy do their laundry or feeling seedy after Friday
    night. So an excellent turnout, I thought. Followed by a march to Peter's
    local office.

    http://www.thecasket.ca/stories.asp?id=1091

    And, yes, the local rag is called "The Casket".

  10. The "protest" and the comments were all too good humoured and silly to be either useful or interesting. Go find a worthy cause.

    • You go ahead and stay wherever you are, sniping from afar. Although methinks you're probably typing from a Blogging Tories IP address.

  11. Jarrid, given that this sort of behaviour used to make Prime Minister Harper absolutely apoplectic when Jean Chretien used to do it, why is he no longer against this sort of behaviour?

    Answer: it only offends his right/con sensitivities when the Liberals do it (like taxing income trusts, and appointing Senators, and putting unelected Senators in Cabinet, and cutting mandates short to force elections to be timed for the government's best partisan advantage, and ignoring Parliamentary investigations, and refusing to produce documents for Parliament, and spending like a drunken sailor, and…)

    • You are confirming my point that this really is a partisan matter.

      The sad thing is that the left/lib media, as usual, takes sides.

      • Jarrid sez: you can all be dismissed because you're partisan.

        Makes total sense, right? Right?

  12. Thanks for sharing the 6000-8000 estimate too! I'd seen the CBC estimate 7,000 people, and I wondered if it could really have been so big (I'm stuck at work today unfortunately). Sounds to me as though the 7,000 estimate is accurate then!

    • Right, I felt very pleased with myself when I saw my estimate agreed with the CBC one you posted! Probably there'll shortly be some good Youtube videos showing the full length of the crowd leaving Dundas Square — I hope so anyway. I'm pretty tall (6' 2"), but even with my best vertical jump I couldn't make out the front of the march — I was about 100m from the end.

      • yeah Jack I'd say you were pretty spot on. We started near the front of the march and stopped a few times to take photos from elevated platforms and never got the whole crowd. I also agree with near all of your analysis of the protest. While it was great to see so many people out, it did not have a ton of energy in the way other protests i have attended have. There were spots but it was not sustained. I chock it up to much of you suggest: the greenness of the organizers (not Greenness), the lack of good speakers, and the lack of original, non-lame chants. I will add a fourth though. There seemed to me a lot of folks that did not appear to be activist/protest types who really did not appear ready for/know how to do somethings that was less "too gentle and too nice" as you describe.

        As far as Rapheal, I was, I am pretty sure standing behind him when he took that photo of Chow, though I didn't know it at the time. I stood behind her (she turned around of that photo), the entirety of the time in the square. But given I thought nothing of it at the time I suspect I need a police lineup to identify the sneaky basterd.

  13. Mitchell is tall, curly brown hair, usually unshaven and wearing a track suit with lots of camera apparatus.

  14. Bolsheviks complaining about anti-democratic measures is funny. Takes one to know one!

    I went to local 'perogies not proroguing' rally. Speaking as someone who does not support either major party, the event seemed partisan to me because they focused on Harper only. If people were really bothered about democracy, they would be bitching about the Fed and Prov Libs just as much as they were about Cons.

    I wonder why left wing people like to march and protest while right wingers don't? I think they are a waste of time but I don't know what others think.

    • "the event seemed partisan to me because they focused on Harper only."

      jolyon, could you ask someone to explain the purpose of the event to you? Either you just don't understand or you're being willfully ignorant. And you wouldn't ever be willfully ignorant.

      "Bolsheviks complaining about anti-democratic measures is funny. Takes one to know one! "

      Isn't it funny how conbots turn into sarcastic little Nancys when somebody stands up to them.

    • Fed and Provincial Libs haven't been attacking democracy as of late.

      Just sayin'.

      • I decided Canadian Parliament was broken in 1997 when Chretien shut down judicial inquiry before it reached its conclusion and trampled over our right to protest in order to kowtow to a dictator. But Chretien was piker compared to Martin when he ignored a confidence vote. And now we have supposedly non-partisans protesting Harper the dictator – and are proposing legislation to 'fix' something that wasn't even unconstitutional – but they have nothing at all to say how Parliament has been debased over the past decade.

        And Ont Libs certainly are – big story today that Premier decided by himself to go ahead with $7 billion electricity deal without consulting cabinet. I know other Premiers and PMs have probably done this, even Harper I am sure, but no one has anything at all to say.

        • Yes, yes, we've all heard the "But moooommm! They did it too!" refrain many times from the whiners before.

          That does nothing to make it any better now. And perhaps some of the outrage you're seeing is because Harper only happened to make "Not being like them" one of the lynchpins of his campaign rhetoric. I think Canadians have finally gotten fed up waiting for that to happen.

    • So, you're saying that the anti-prorogation rally focused on the person who prorogued Parliament?

      Shocking.

  15. Exactly – I saw that at the Halifax rally. I actually bought a Dollar store umbrella, wrote NO/NON PROROGUE on it and held it up. It was easy for me to stuff in my purse and open up. We were handed those NDP signs and just accepted them. I threw them down when I realized what they were doing. I like some of their policies, but would never vote for them.

  16. "I wonder why left wing people like to march and protest while right wingers don't? I think they are a waste of time but I don't know what others think."

    Mostly because "right wing people" are busy working, raising families and shuttling kids around to hockey arenas, etc.

    • See Wherry's piece, posted immediately after this one:

      "That was, to be fair, some 13 months ago and Jason Kenney, the immigration minister, had just witnessed 2,500 people gather in downtown Calgary to protest the possibility of a coalition government. “I don't recall anything on such short notice with such a large crowd in this city,” Mr. Kenney gushed. One assumes the sentiment roughly holds for today's events too."

      Apparently those wholesome right wing Real Canadians have all the time in the world to protest.

      By the way, jarrid, I took two of my kids to hockey games immediately before today's rally and have to do the grocery shopping after dinner tonight because that's the only way I could fit the rally into my schedule of work and family.

    • If you had bothered to abandon your shilling post for a few hours jarrid you would have seen many hard-working parents at the Toronto rally who had brought their kids along. Rather than poo-pooing one would think that someone who seems so committed to good government would be appreciative of those parents for trying to instill a sense of political interest and democratic responsibility in their children. I guess it's easier to tow the party line and copy-and-paste your talking points over and over again. What's the going rate these days? Are you paid per post or per word? Inquiring minds want to know!

  17. "Much fiercer mood at the 2008 anti-prorogation protest -"

    Well, Jack, the reason for that is that unlike 2008, the Conservatives do have the confidence of the House as constitutional expert Peter Hogg has explained. In 2008, the GG had discretion not to prorogue, not so this time around. This prorogue is like Chretien's 4 prorogue's.

    Maybe your rally should have had someone learned in constitutional law. You all could have quietly dispersed and got on with your Saturday. Anyway, it would have been much better that listening to,

    Judy Rebick.

    • Conbots! Transform and roll out talking points!

    • They do have the confidence of the House on paper, as they had it on paper in 2008. You have the confidence of the House until you lose it in a vote of non-confidence. If the GG (advised, one hears, by Hogg) had felt that the Government did not have the confidence of the House in 2008, she would never have prorogued. So the situations are very similar. What's different here is that the Opposition leaders have not sworn up and down that they will topple the Government as soon as they can. But that was moot then and would be moot now. What makes the situations then and now analogous is that the Government is avoiding the House, so the House couldn't vote the Government out even if it wanted. Therein lies the violation of the fundamental principle of the supremacy of Parliament.

      You should be grateful, Jarrid. Peter Hogg would charge you a lot of money, and I just explained it for free.

      • Well, as the saying goes Jack, you get what you pay for.

        It was apparent in December 2008 that the Conservatives didn't have the confidence of the House and so, as Hogg's advice to the GG was: you do not have to follow the PM"s advice on whether to prorogue. She used her discretion to grant the prorogue: we do not know specifically what went into her decision, but it was her decision to make, unlike the 2009 decision.

  18. For LKO, et al — did a rough crowd estimate of the Toronto demonstration. The march stretched from, at minimum, Yonge and Dundas to Queen and Bay Streets — a distance of greater than 2,500 feet. Assuming 15 persons abreast on the 40 foot plus street width and 2.5 feet between rows you get 15,000 people. I think I am underestimating. I was part of the march and I counted more than 15 persons in each row around me.

    • 15,000? Really?

      I don't know about that. Jack's estimate (he was there too) was 6-8 thousand, and the CBC estimate was 7,000.

      I'd love for it to have been 15,000, as I had to work today and couldn't get out myself, but frankly, I'm impressed at 7,000, and wouldn't want to be accused of exaggerating!

  19. In Waterloo Region, we didn't have any orange signs, or people giving out signs of any colour/stripe. You came with the sign you made, or you didn't. We didn't march anywhere, and the only chant was a fairly brief one of "get back to work". Far from the chant being organized, I think it came as a bit of an annoyance to the organizers as it was during the speeches part of the program, but it kindly was at a change of speakers. And kind the whole thing was. Unlike Jack, I really appreciated that aspect of it. One guy who had creatively photoshopped a picture of Stephen Harper with a little moustache and a caption of "Stephen Hitler" got rumblings of "excessive" "over the top" and "not helpful" from the crowd, near me, anyway. We did have someone giving away free perogies. The estimate I heard and believe put us at 500 or so. I enjoyed it!

    http://news.therecord.com/News/Local/article/6611

  20. Constitutional Law professor Peter Hogg agrees with me on this. Harper and the Conservatives have the confidence of the House. It's no different than the Chretien prorogations.

    • In other words "Chretien!"

    • Do you have a link where Peter Hogg states that this prorogation is democratically equivalent to prior prorogations? I have read that he has opined that the GG didn't have the discretion to turn down this prorogation request because Harper had the confidence of the house, but I haven't read him opine on the democratic legitimacy of this prorogation, or compare the democratic legitimacy of this prorogations to past prorogations.

    • And lack of protest then makes it more acceptable now then? Is that what you're saying?

      Are you really arguing that you *want* the type of corruptiong and government Chretien gave us, and that's why you voted for Harper?

      Ahh.. it starts to fall into place then.

  21. Today was a big day for Canada. We turned a corner against these assholes who have taken over our country.

  22. I really feel sorry for Canada. You are becoming an autocracy instead of a democracy. Maybe, instead of funding other countries (with taxpayers money) and teach them about " democracy" you should be the one to ask for help. There are many countries that will be willing to teach conservatives (in a kindly effort to give back all those years working for the pursuit of democracy overseas) about how to act or behave like a real democracy

  23. This doesn't have anything to do with anything, but I love that those two Spartans are in better shape than the one the Ottawa Senators hiired a few years ago.

  24. I would say the Guelph rally had about 200 people. It was an interesting mix of young and old, with no Spartans in attendance.
    The crowd was not very vocal, but very determined; it seemed that there were a lot of first timers (like myself) who were uncertain how to act.
    Various speakers tried to ramp up the crowd, and a point by point account of government abuses was met with calls of "shame". Following the speeches, there was a very peaceful and orderly march to the Knox church for more talks and a Q&A forum. Liberal MP Frank Valeriote vowed to support the NDP plan to curb prorogation through legislation, but wondered aloud if it was legally enforceable.
    It was a good crowd and very encouraging. One of the messages I took away was that this was a beginning and not an end – keep writing letters, keep up the spirit and look at it as part of a bigger picture of the kind of accountability you expect from government – no matter what your political stripes.

  25. I was at Jim Flahrety's riding office in Whitby Ontario – it was a great spirited showing of individuals who care deeply for the heart of our democracy – Parliament. Stand up for Canada. WL Mackenzie must be rolling in his grave. Why the heck are we still fighting the Tories for responsible government nearly 200 years later?

  26. I was worried about the speakers – they went on a bit too much about issues that were tangential to the reason why most everybody was there. Duff Conacher was the best at staying on message.

    I disagree with Jack – I think that the protest needed to be as gentle and as nice as possible, so as to drive home the point that the protesters weren't rabble rousers or members of the so-called chattering classes – these were ordinary Canadians, coming out in great numbers to protest the undemocratic behaviour of the Harper government. It's the size of the crowds, rather than the message, that makes the point. Anything that is ungentle might scare some people off.

    I was pleased to be part of the rally, and I am proud to be a Canadian and to live in a country where people can congregate peacefully and safely.

    • Well, your point (with Jenn below) is a good one, and I'm certainly not in favour of scaring "ordinary Canadians" off. It just seemed like all the jokes were at the expense of the serious issues, and a casual first-time participant might have walked away with the idea that it was all fun and games and nothing very important was at stake — the message that various Conbots are peddling around here.

    • Yup – I liked the "feel" of the protest. This was actually my first in-person political protest and it seemed nicely balanced between an earnest, honest, amateurish atmosphere with good organization and just enough "Hey hey! Ho ho!" kinda chants to keep things interesting.

      The crowd was NOT blue hair and facial piercings, it looked like my neighbours. I defy any attendee to dismiss these people as anything but ordinary Canadians. Made me feel really good about dragging my teenager down there to see democracy in actions.

  27. Oops – Flaherty.

      • I thought she was giving him a nickname.

        Jim "Oops" Flaherty.

  28. Latest estimates for rally attendance:

    Toronto 5000
    Ottawa 3500
    Vancouver 1000-2000
    London 500
    Waterloo 500
    Halifax 500
    Victoria 400-1000
    Montreal 400
    Winnipeg 300
    Edmonton 250
    Belleville 250
    St. John's 200
    Oshawa 200
    Thunder Bay150
    Calgary 100
    Kelowna 100
    Charlottetown 100
    Maple Ridge50
    Prince Rupert 25

    • I respect the fact that you're only reporting sourced stats, but FWIW I'd be amazed if the real total for Toronto was only 5000 at the height of the protest (c. 2pm). I say that because the numbers varied greatly — 5000 (the police estimate?) might have been quite accurate around 1pm or 3:30pm, but I do think it was higher when the march began (peaking just before).

      • I've seen several anecdotal accounts like yours, so I'm persuaded to adjust my T.O. tally to 7,000 (the high end of the original estimate range, as well as the original #CAPP estimate)

  29. The rhetoric of the "Is Democracy Dead" pic is pretty over the top but wow, kudos on that "Parliament buildings on a coffin". It's rhetorically way too hyperbolic, but it looks cool and must have taken a bit of effort. In the pic, it looks as though they've even done something to give the buildings a 3D effect (it could just be the angle of the pic). Anyway, A for effort from me.

  30. Saw a lot of Starbucks cups in those pictures. Obviously this event was attended by elitists.

    (Does the CPC give cash rewards for coming up with new conbot comment board talking points? Where do I sign up?)

  31. "Saw a lot of Starbucks cups in those pictures. Obviously this event was attended by elitists. " – 'BCer'

    Clearly you are as ignorant as your comment would indicate 'BCer', those coffee cups were from Second Cup as well were held by what looked like a eastern european couple and a middleaged turkish person.

    I smell a rat in alot of these comment boards. Ever since "noprorogue.ca" had comments originating from Immigration Canada IP's, so says the admin of the website. Most of the comments against the rallies/anti-prorogue'rs are dare I say, more ignorant and hastily written than the usual internet troll filfth.

    • And this is why we all need to agree on an internet convention indicating sarcasm.

      Of course, in this case, BCer's parenthetical request for a cash reward for creating a new "conbot comment board talking point" should have been a hint.

      (Unless you were being sarcastic too Patrick)

      • Can't be too careful though. I saw somebody in Antigonish who looked like they
        were from Manitoba.

      • In the sense that a metaphor is like a simile, but different, the necessity to label sarcasm would render irony dead.

        • "a metaphor is like a simile"

          Now that's a simile! Made me s-mile!

  32. we have never been this close to fascism, and I think it is too late. Harper's majority is almost an inevitability now with the left split four ways. after harper gets the majority, and declares himself leader for life, these types of protests will be illegal, and met with Iran-style brutality.
    count on it.
    and the scariest part is, Harper's supporters would DELIGHT in seeing Horsemen bashing heads of pro-democracy protestors. Conservatives: They just aren't right in the head….

    • Right Russell, now this fascism you speak off and these Horsemen bashing heads that you see, is that every morning or just the day after some amping up down at the local Square ?

      Take a tylenol and lie down. Even if you wished it, this is not Iran, it`s Canada, we have a democratically elected leader. Just cool it with the extremist talk. Most of us are quite happy with the CPC gov`t.

    • This does appear to be the prototypical anti-proroguer protest attendee mindset.

      Trust me Russell, speaking as Harper supporter myself, simply hearing you guys spout off brings me as much mirth as I need.

      But thank you for reporting from the front lines just the same.

    • "and the scariest part is, Harper's supporters would DELIGHT in seeing Horsemen bashing heads of pro-democracy protestors. Conservatives: They just aren't right in the head…."

      Do you mean like this? Conservatives believe in laws, libs and progressives are more flexible. Your right to protest is better protected by conservatives than it is by anyone else.

      "Canadians now remember the APEC summit for its images of young protesters being blasted with pepper spray by RCMP officers, and signs urging democracy and free speech being torn down by Canadian police."

      http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/index.cfm?…

  33. "and the scariest part is, Harper's supporters would DELIGHT in seeing Horsemen bashing heads of pro-democracy protestors. Conservatives: They just aren't right in the head…."

    Do you mean like this? Conservatives believe in laws, libs and progressives are more flexible. Your right to protest is better protected by conservatives than it is by anyone else.

    "Canadians now remember the APEC summit for its images of young protesters being blasted with pepper spray by RCMP officers, and signs urging democracy and free speech being torn down by Canadian police."

    http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/index.cfm?…

  34. Nice write-up Jack. I agree that the proceedings did seem a little hijacked. My first thought was that I had stumbled in to a NDP side-protest and not the non-partisan one that I meant to attend. The tone did seem to indicate the "rookie-ness" of most of the attendees (myself included) in that there was almost a reluctance to sustain any chant. That may also be a symptom of the multi-party nature of the crowd. It seemed that no one wanted to offend anyone, but everybody understood that Harper was taking things too far.

  35. Yeah Russell, you were smart not to have gotten all worked up about the Chrétien prorogations: you probably would have been pepper sprayed.

    Is that why you didn't protest Chrétien prorogations? Scared to have eaten some pepper spray?

  36. Are there any Conservatives protesting prorogation? Are there any Marxist-Separatist coalition supporters who support it? No, and no, meaning that the opposition to prorogation is 100% partisanship, it has zero to do with

    "we have never been this close to fascism"

    Heh, I'll take two hits of what you are on Russ. Do yourself a favour and read up on what Orwell thought of guys like you who misuse that word.

    He has a minority government and thus cannot reasonably be considered a dictator, which is the actual term you were grasping for here. If the Marxist-Separatist coalition wants to defeat Harper they merely have to vote against the throne speech. They won't do that because they know they will get thrashed in the next election.

    Oh, and it's anti-accountability morons on the left who are responsible for out of control "horsemen", not conservatives. We abhor, and punish, injustice, whereas you collude with, aid, and abet the evil doers in society and believe it is wrong to punish evil doers.

    Right in the head indeed; seek help Russ.

  37. Our difficulty here in Canada has always been that we split the actual majority vote into subsections. ie. the left-wing and liberal vote, which prevails, is always divided among degrees of ideology, and the entire lot fails to gain power. Perhaps we would be better off with a two-party system, since we are obviously shooting ourselves in the foot with the present set-up.

  38. I just posted a comment, and it has disappeared. I'll try again. I think that Canada would be better off with a two-party system, since we keep giving the actual liberal/left wing majority vote away, by dividing it up amongst varying degrees of left wing/liberal ideology, and the entire crap shoot ends up falling to the conservatives, that no-one wants in power, because the majority can't act as a united front. A two-party system would fix this.

  39. It this is the best the opposition can do organizing “outrage”, Harper doesn’t have a thing to worry about. What a pathetic turnout.

  40. 1) you actually did. you said "none of the Liberal apologists on this board have addressed the point that Spector makes, which refutes their own claim that there is something exceptional and thus more deserving of protest than in Harper's actions"… you were using Spector to establish an argument "that Liberal apologists" are wrongfully suggesting this instance of prorogation is more worthy of "protest". Spector made clear that this instance of prorogation was more objectionable, he is just arguing that does not mean we should throw the baby out with the bath water.

    When Spector makes the negative comparison re the Libs vis a vis the CPC in the article you are referring to he is not comparing prorogation strategies, per se he is comparing handling of inquiries. this is neither a subtle nor unimportant detail.

    2) your point is funny: "there is no official ranking" but "Hogg is recognized…as the foremost living expert". i wonder why we are "not going to get very far on this point"?

    look, you are right that Hogg is not just some guy (though i think you are setting up a straw man). you are also right on the first point i noted above: there are no rankings… i think it is more helpful to think about it in terms of a pool of scholars that lead the discussion because 1) the relevant discussion crosses across a number of issues/specializations; and 2) there is no srs single way to measure the kind of prominence effectively. regardless, I see Hogg existing among a pool of his peers including Ned Franks, Peter Russell, Peter Aucoin, David E. Smith and Andrew Heard.

  41. 1) while i didn't rule out the possibility he is tying them together in the end, it is does not change the bigger point, on which Spector is clear, which you were trying to refute: this is not just a routine prorogation

    2) i am reluctant to keep this going because there is no end and it is not a big deal because we agree on more then we disagree, but, quickly: 1) i didn't say your statements were contradictory, i just though them to be funny juxtaposed; 2) all of those indicators are fine, the more difficult measurement though is actual influence and expertise… those indicators are proxies, but as you and i agree they are not the full story (ps want to endeavour to trace some of theM, I would be interested in the results?); 3) Andrew Heard has. in the globe…. don;t have the link handy sorry. Not positive on David Smith, though i think i did hear that he did in one of the provincial papers.

  42. Stefan Premdas, from the Ontario Green Party is wearing fur? Is the Green Party not against wild fur trade? This is very poor taste and shows inconsistent policy within the Green Party. I am shocked to see this Green Party candidate wear real FUR! Shame on you Stefan Premdas and Shame on the Ontario Green Party for not putting a stop to this action!!

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