Apathy is boring - Macleans.ca

Apathy is boring


While TVO’s Mike Miner thinks at some length about the significance of it all, that Facebook group, as of this writing, has 65,000 members. Stephen Taylor, lead rallier for Canada, has helpfully set the magic number for democratically legitimacy at 127,000 members, the number drawn by his cause a year ago.

Meanwhile, a rival Facebook group, promoted by the National Post to demonstrate how easy it is to rally tens of thousands to your cause, has 120 members.


Apathy is boring

  1. Tens of thousands of Conservative Party members you mean. Really, all that proves is that the Cons base is more motivated to donate money to its party then the Liberals (who have 100 000 members supposedly, or so I've been told). How many members does the CPC have?

    Look how many eligible voters you have in Canada.. look at how many donated to each party; a pretty small % of overall voters donating, really.

    Besides, that group is made up of a lot of people that arent members to any party and who I'd bet would be pretty antagonistic donating money to any political party. Again, my goalpost for seeing how much people care about this issue is not whether how many people donate, but how many people march or protest in the streets.

  2. First comment…it took only 5 days to secure 127,000 members. This one has secured half the membership in 50% more time.

    Second comment…if you think Facebook group membership is newsworthy and truly indicative of public opinion why did a facebook group that was 4 times more successful in rallying the public to a cause of national interest not warrant any attention from you at the time?

  3. Excellent. Read enough of the major US media and it becomes apparent that success is
    measured not by the value of ideas or by the ability to communicate those ideas but by the
    capacity to raise money, usually based on the distortion of ideas.

    Life is good, ain't it. Unless you're a socialist or separatist. Get some nice pom-poms for Christmas ?

  4. While the left hand at the National Post is poo-poohing Facebook groups, the right hand at the National Post tweeted this today:
    The @nationalpost now has 666 Facebook fans (http://bit.ly/1XRB4D)! You know what this calls for: ♫ http://blip.fm/~isly9

    I love irony.

  5. Aaron, you should put my comment in context. I was wondering why 20,000 earns you the main headline on the front page of the Toronto Star while 127,000 gets no such treatment.

    In fact, the Toronto Star's threshold for legitimacy is 20,000 for their own promoted tea party movement, while 127,000 is Aaron Wherry's attempt to set a number for a standard of legitimacy.

    Will we see the Toronto Star and Aaron Wherry whipping up the crowd at the anti-prorogation rally:

    It seems opinion journalism has hit the front page as the Globe and Mail publishes its first print edition front page editorial since 1965:

    Front page of the Star with a 20,000 member Facebook group, the Globe descending into partisan opinion on its front page and now Aaron Wherry pulling out of context quotes to suggest that political opponents have set a threshold of legitimacy for Facebook protest.

    We'll see if those Facebook users can move past poking each other online and hit the streets to protest. We turned out about 20,000 real life people (ie. offline) to protest. It appears that the prorogies have so far turned out 5:

    I have yet to read a front page story on the Globe or Toronto Star about how mainstream dailies are losing market share because they make ideological editorial decisions at the expense of a) news and b) what their audience cares about. Chalk it up to poor business choices.

  6. So if it takes a few more days to get to that artificial # set by Taylor to show it's got popular support, it's not as legit, john? Nice spin there.

    As for the 2nd comment, I wasn't promoting Taylor's site, but I don't recall running his site's membership down either, as the NP and others have been prone to do. In fact, find me several Macleans journalists or others who were pooh-poohing the FB membership #'s of Taylor's site as has been attempted this year with the CAPP group.

  7. Again, my goalpost for seeing how much people care about this issue is not whether a few extra people donate to a non-CPC party, but how many people march or protest in the streets.

    Can't argue with that. I'm curious to see how many people turn out to protest, since it seems most of the rallies across Canada will be organized through Facebook.

    Scott, do you know what extent the Liberals or NDP are involved with planning the FB protests? Even though there's no formal involvement, I'm pretty sure there is a lot of informal involvement and coordination between the party membership and grassroots groups like #CAPP.

  8. "Meanwhile, a rival Facebook group, promoted by the National Post to demonstrate how easy it is to rally tens of thousands to your cause, has 120 members."

    So… ALL of their readers.

  9. As for setting the bar to 100,000 or so, that's pretty stupid. The count went from 15,000 to 65,000 in under 48 hours. Does Taylor actually think that they can't crack 127,000?

    If this keeps up, they will likely double that number, especially if the media profile given to that page keeps up.

  10. Crit, I realize that it is important for some to discredit this FB page but if you actually took the time to read the posts that appear on it, you would see that the vast majority of them are non-partisan (I spent close to an hour reading them and found none to be promoting any party in particular). These are genuinely outraged Canadians calling on their politicians to go back to work. Their anger is directed at Harper for one simple reason: he's the one that prorogue. This isn't about bashing Harper because he's a Tory.

    Unlike some, most Canadians don't define themselves under partisan colours.

    What I find fascinating is the ardent, almost shrill, effort displayed by pundits of all stripes in attempting to discredit these people. Since most of them have decided that Canadian voters are, as a rule, dumb and uneducated, they simply cannot phantom that people would use a popular outlet like FB to voice their discontent.

  11. That's odd Stephen, because I recall you wrote a post bragging about all the press your Facebook group and accompanying microsite received at the time, in advance of the rallies. You mentioned you'd done media hits on: CBC: Don Newman's Politics, CTV Alberta, CHCH, CBC: The National, Citytv,
    National Post, Le Devoir, La Presse, Metro News (Ottawa), Canadian Press (CP), Toronto Star, Hill Times, CHQR (2 hits), CJAD, CFRB, CBC Winnipeg, CBC Montreal.


    So it seems your group got a great deal of media coverage — I'd argue much more based on your own list than this current group as — and has little cause for complaint.

  12. Those anti-proroguers better start whipping up frothing nationalist sentiment and accusing the Tories of being traitors if they want to get people as whacked-out as those anti-coalition-rallyers I saw.

  13. success is measured not by the value of ideas or by the ability to communicate those ideas but by the
    capacity to raise money, usually based on the distortion of ideas.

    I agree, Sisyphus. I also think it's far worse in the US than it is in Canada.

    Life is good, ain't it. Unless you're a socialist or separatist. Get some nice pom-poms for Christmas?

    Rah, rah! Sis-boom-bah! Kidding. No pom-poms, but I did get a nice new phone from my better half.

  14. Sure, it may be the first time the Globe has had what you call an "editorial" on their front page since 1965, but since it's also the first time a minority government has prorogued Parliament more than once since the 60s, it's possible they're being consistent. Maybe they only do so at times when minority governments are proroguing Parliament with the explicit intent of avoiding votes in the House, stopping Parliamentary investigations, and avoiding questions over their refusal to abide by a majority vote in the House of Commons asking the government to produce documents before Parliament. Maybe the Globe only puts opinion on the cover when things are really, REALLY bad.

    Perhaps the unprecedented reaction of the media is akin to the unprecedented threat that this government's actions put our system of government in. Maybe we really are all crackpots, but when someone like Andrew Coyne explains just what about this crisis can be described as us all being on a "path to despotism" I pay attention.

  15. "We turned out about 20,000 real life people (ie. offline) to protest."

    There were lots of pro-Coalition protesters too. We'll see how many pro-Prorogation protesters show up.

  16. I would prefer not to click on a link to Mr. taylor's material – what was his group regarding?

    Also interesting: we can see from this very website how quickly the conserative party can put voices on the internet, why is their group so small? Are people balking? (To be honest, I suspect most party members are quietly of the opinion "I don't like it, but I won't switch parties over it").

  17. I hope lots do. If only to hear them say "pro-Prorogation" a bunch of times.

  18. Sounds like the Ruth/Maris debate circa 1961…history declared Ford Frick an idiot too.

  19. To be honest, I suspect most party members are quietly of the opinion "I don't like it, but I won't switch parties over it".

    I suspect you're right. Many Conservative supporters were really hoping that Harper wouldn't prorogue.

  20. None that I am aware of yet.

  21. Righties make such poor victims.

  22. "There were lots of pro-coalition protesters too." Separatists wanting a chunk of power don't count.

  23. "the unprecedented threat that this government's actions put our system of government in."

    What threat? No laws were broken, nothing illegal was done. I would have preferred Harper had not done this but laws are still being followed.

    PM Martin ignored confidence vote, bribed an oppo MP with a complex file and then held another confidence vote days later when his numbers were more favourable. I expected the coup to be noticed by msm but it wasn't – the coverage was all about how awesome Martin was, what a juggernaut – so the coverage of this incident is a little surprising. Or not because the msm do seem awfully keen to carry Libs water.

    • You repeatedly state something which is not true and have had several opportunities to learn your error on the matter.

      I hope you are more diligent in your schooling, or you will have trouble when you enter post-secondary education.

  24. "that people would use a popular outlet like FB to voice their discontent"

    Correction, and this is the significant point: "that people would use a popular outlet like FB to start to voice their discontent "

  25. I doubt there were many separatists at the 2000-person rally in Montreal.

  26. "the coverage was all about how awesome Martin was"


  27. doubt it muchly.

  28. Snap!

  29. I love the rival FB page trumpeted by the NP actually.

    Sure, it expresses apathy regarding prorogation, but it does so from the point of view of our democracy ALREADY being so far gone under Harper that his proroguing (or not) of Parliament is deemed completely irrelevant (I realize it's probably facetious, but it's funny!).

    Here's a quote from the Info page for the group: "Harper has now put Canada into a state of Open Dictatorship, as opposed to the usual state of veiled dictatorship that is called 'parliamentary democracy'… So, while I despise Harper, I am not particularly upset by this, because I have no illusions about what the other puppets will do once they are in power". That's the group the NP is ENCOURAGING people to join (to little effect apparently, as it's only got 7 more people now…)

    So, the National Post's chosen match up is between a group who are against prorogation, and a group who think that we're already living in a dictatorship, so why bother worrying about a meaningless prorogation of a Parliament the Harper government already ignores anyway?


  30. I think the whole idea of the news media trumpeting facebook group membership as some kind of measure of popular support is idiotic, lazy journalism, whether it's anti proroguation or anti coalition or whatever. Aaron is the one using number of members in a facebook group as some kind of metric, not me. I'm merely challenging him on why his chosen metric wasn't good enough to notice last year when it was even more wildly successful by his own standards.

    • While I certainly wouldn't praise the greatness of FB protest, I wouldn't disregard it either.
      Frankly, it is the day in day out communication choice for many Canadians.
      Criticize it as lazy and whatnot, but it is the way things are…..

  31. And in spite of all the practice they give themselves, too.

  32. Occam's Razor, friend. Why would so many people join a Facebook group that was against proroguation? Because they're against it.

  33. Both their readers, with 59 fake profiles each.

  34. The paper ought to be referred to by its proper name, "the National Pos" :-!

  35. You know, there is a big difference. This facebook thing is truly grassroots.

    Your protest was not.

  36. And how much of that media coverage was sneery and dismissive, one wonders?

    I was only tempted to sneer when I wondered at how "ungrassrootsy" it really was, but I didn't sneer at the idea of people choosing a form of protest just because it doesn't meet with someone's approval.

  37. Wow, this must be their entire readership.

  38. I don't know, Coyne seems no more apoplectic about this than he did about Martin's shenanigans.

    As for how serious this all is, MAYBE laws are still being followed (I'm not sure ignoring a demand from Parliament that you produce certain documents is "following the law" precisely) but I don't see how proroguing Parliament right after choosing to ignore a demand for the production of documents by the majority of our elected representatives in the House is not a threat to our system of government. If prorogation can be used to make our government supreme over our Parliament that's a pretty serious threat. When a majority of the House of Commons says to the government "Do X", and the government says back to the majority of our elected representatives "Get stuffed, we're locking the doors and you can all stay at home" that's a pretty serious threat to our system of government.

    Martin never ignored a confidence vote (a vote saying "the House thinks a committee should do X" is not a vote saying "the House does X", no matter how hard you squint) but he certainly ignored a vote in the House, so there's a little bit of a parallel. Except of course that when Martin ignored a vote he didn't like, at least he was there in the House a couple of days latter facing another vote. When Harper ran in to a vote in the House of Commons demanding he do something that he didn't want to do, he just ignored it and prorogued.

  39. Thanks, Tiggy! This must be the hundredth time you've called me a ConBot. I stopped being annoyed when I realized that you're afflicted with OCD.

  40. It will be interesting to see whether the Liberals are able to improve their revenues this quarter. If 50% of the members of the Facebook CAPP group donated $20 each to the Liberal Party, that would be $650,000 in new revenues.

    Stephen Taylor's Facebook group may have "only" had 127,000 members in 2008, but tens of thousands of Canadians spoke with their wallets and donated money to the Conservatives in December 2008. The Conservatives set a record for the most money raised from individual donors in 2008, becoming the first political party to break the $20 million barrier in one year.

  41. "but tens of thousands of Canadians"

    "Tens of thousands of Conservative Party members you mean"

    Is there a difference? I didn't realize that once someone joined the Con Party they stopped being Canadian.

  42. It's unfortunate that not a single one of them will be able to say so publicly.

  43. I'm not sure that many conservatives really think it's worth the time or effort to join a Facebook group, though to be honest I wouldn't know, as I don't have a profile myself.

    Thing is though, the anti-Harper Facebook group sees itself as serious biz; whereas the NP one is obviously a mock group. Besides, joining an anti-proroguement group I guess is the thing to do these days. It can make you look bipartisan (even though you're really just a liberal), makes you look hip (hey, I follow politics, look at me!) and young people always enjoy joining a crowd (admittedly there are some older folks in there but I bet the vast majority are young'ins like myself).

  44. I wouldn't necessarily take that bet, but I'm pretty sure at least 2/3 are very unlikely to vote Conservative.

  45. And Cons supporters do not click twice, unlike opposition supporters — well, maybe Cons supporters do click MORE than twice … so how many actual readers does this make then? lol

  46. "It will be interesting to see whether the Liberals are able to improve their revenues this quarter."

    I love how you *pretend* to be the voice of objective reason and apolitical insight, when you're the best ConBot the Conservatives have in their stable, quite often the first off the mark with the best channel-changing comments.

    You're top-shelf. I hope you're getting suitably compensated.

  47. Hundredth time? You, annoyed?


  48. That's nice that you think that more than 70% would identify themselves as liberal. I don't know if you'd be wrong, but I do know that it's beside the point. I would bet the other 30%, then, are people who identify themselves as conservative, but they're not so foolish as to think the sun rises and sets out of Stephen Harper's arse, and as conservatives, don't much appreciate the denigration and manipulation for partisan purposes of Canadian institutions. That too would be beside the point.
    Occam's razor, dear young Ryan, states that the simplest theory that fits the facts of a problem is the one that should be selected. For example: Person 1 – Gosh, look at all those people who joined the Facebook group against proroguation of Parliament. I wonder why that is?
    Person 2 – Well, perhaps it's because many of them identify as liberal, or they want to portray themselves as worldly and think joining a Facebook group will help them towards that end, or maybe many of them have some unknowable beef against the Prime Minister that would motivate them to join a group that they otherwise would not, or…or..
    Person 1 – …Or maybe they're generally opposed to the idea of proroguing Parliament, frivolously or otherwise?
    Person 2 – Oh yeah! Put that way, it makes a lot of sense!

  49. Are you saying that many members are joining because they're actually are anti-prorogation? I simply find it more likely that, since Harper is the cause of the prorogation, if one is liberal they must be anti-prorogation. I guess I have no proof of this other than the fact I used to associate myself with liberals and I hated Harper too for no real good reason (I thought he was anti-Canada or something).

    I simply think it's just liberals at it again. They won't admit to it but, take a poll of the members in the Facebook group. I would bet $50 more than 70% identify themselves as liberal.

  50. Anyway, thanks for the backhanded compliment . Much appreciated. I'm glad you're a fan.

  51. Still nobody gonna tell me what the court blogger's facebook group was about?

    • It was the "Canadians Against a Liberal/NDP Coalition Gov't" Group. Currently it still sits at about 127,000.

      Boring assignment for anyone who's got way too much time: Go through both lists of members and see if you can figure out how many people are in both the anti-coalition group AND the anti-prorogation group. I know some people who are, and others who may not be, but whom I know would join both groups on principle, even if they haven't.