88

Rebuild it anew


 

Christopher White, author of that Facebook group, issues a cri de coeur.

Now we, the vocal majority, find ourselves to be the new power brokers in Ottawa. With rallies planned across Canada on January 23rd, all eyes will be on us. We are not, as the traditional thinking goes, an apathetic people. We care deeply about our country, but for too long the increasing cracks in our political system have made it seem beyond repair, leaving people feeling frustrated and disempowered. Finally, we have an issue that unites us, one that we can wrap our heads around while keeping an eye on the eventual end game. This prorogation is far more than a matter of parliamentary procedure, it is emblematic of an institution that has turned its back on its people. We can stand outside and rage against the machine for as long as we like, or we can work together and take it apart, brick by brick and rebuild it anew. The upcoming rallies are not the culmination of our efforts, they are the beginning. Let’s start with prorogation and use our inevitable success to push for greater reforms, ones that ensure that our government is accountable, transparent, and responsive to the demands of the electorate. As in, you know, do what it’s there for.

Over at that Facebook group, he posts a video message to address the question of what comes next.


 

Rebuild it anew

  1. Nice to see he's more committed than the average FB group-starter.

  2. Now we, the vocal majority, find ourselves to be the new power brokers in Ottawa.

    Since when does a Facebook group representing far less than one percent of the Canadian population consider itself a "vocal majority" and a power broker? 205,000 members is impressive, but Canada has a population of 34,000,000.

    • Someone who may know these things recently told me that if an issue hits 250,000 supporters, it becomes a National issue and is looked at seriously. By all parties. We are less than 45,000 away from that as I type this, and climbing.

    • I suppose we should take a moment to reflect on when the MAJORITY was actually VOCAL. About anything.

  3. Wouldn't it be wild if the government arrested him on suspicion of terror!

  4. all eyes will be on us

    That's what'll make the fizzle so delicious, next Monday.

  5. If they can crystallize some sort of genuine reform movement on the left, I for one, will be encouraged.

    Many of us on the right wing, are already ready to fight for real parliamentary reform. (I hope Harpers one of us)

  6. Well said.
    Parliament should be back at work Monday.

  7. If I felt I had a political interest in dismissing an idealistic pro-democracy grassroots movement, and pounding it into the ground, I'd start to wonder about my values.

    • Its called spare the dictator, smack down the child.

  8. all eyes will be on us

    That's what'll make the fizzle so delicious. "New power brokers?" "Inevitable success?" Really? That's some echo chamber they've got over there on Facebook.

    • How arrogant and apathetic do you have to be to think we Canadians are above civil protests public demand for parliamentary reform.

      How delusional do you have to be to think hope is an absolute term.

  9. How many vote?

    More critically, how many in the facebook group normally *don't* vote, but might now?

    Probably concentrated in urban centres, the FB group might change a few seats.. in a government where the seat counts are close like this.. they could change the country.

  10. And that's an expert's opinion, folks.

  11. I think he is talking about democrats across Canada and not just the Facebook Group.

    He may be overstating things to say the vocal majority, but so did onservatives with their "moral majority".

  12. I was at an organizational meeting last week. I was pretty impressed with how well organized they were right across the country. Not only did they have responsibility for every detail of the events assigned out to specific planning committees and committee heads, but they have thousands and thousands of posters and stickers already, training sessions planned for parade martials, the parade routes and rally locations booked, thousands and thousands of dollars already spent, etc.

    Another impressive part of the organizing was how religiously non-partisan it is. Olivia Chow was there and she was taken aback when they rejected her offer of a donation of poster board and paint and a hall for putting together banners and posters. The attendees were clearly strongly onside with the non-partisan approach.

  13. DId he remember to add "in a minority context" after all the rhetoric about the need for a more effective Parliament? Otherwise people might think majority governments should be held accountable to Parliament too…

  14. I miss the good ol days when reformers and conservatives demanded the politics be practiced differently in this country.

    It is pretty sorry state of affair when the last line of defense that you have for you actions is Chretien did it too!

    Will we ever have an accountable government in this country….I am still young and can hope.

    • It's even sorrier when Chretien ends up smelling like a rose compared to the current guy!

  15. He may be overstating things to say the vocal majority, but so did conservatives with their "moral majority".

    Huh? So you don't care that he grossly overstated things, saying "we, the vocal majority", because a 1980's evangelical lobby in the United States did something vaguely similar? :)

  16. Please, CR. Don't you go grossly overstating things too. I see it more as a reaction to the dismissiveness of the political elites like the current government and its supporters.

    The guy is guilty of possibly overstating how strong his political position is supported throughout Canada. Like not every single other politician or interest group hasn't done the same.

    The difference here is he is closer to the truth, I suspect.

  17. Another impressive part of the organizing was how religiously non-partisan it is.

    And yet how many active Liberal Party members such as yourself are on planning committees, or otherwise involved in training sessions, organizing, and logistics?

    • You seem very petty on this subject, CR.

      Non-partisan grassroot movements seem to really irk you… is agenda-driven special interest politics all you hope for in this country?

  18. Meh. Expected, really.

  19. I'm not on any planning committee, CR. And I never said ordinary Canadians who may be Liberal or NDP are not involved. But the parties are not involved in the organizing. The main organizers are certainly not part of any political party and they are insisting on things like no sponsorship from the parties, no MPs speaking at the official rallies, etc.

    It goes beyond parties as well. They were very strict about not letting any other group, company or organization – environmental, labour, etc. – turning the rally into their event. It is very grassroots. It is about democracy and those who are frustrated with the way we have been governed, not just today, but especially today.

  20. Well Irene Mathyssen is apparently going to be speaking at the London rally. Not that I care whether she does or not, but they have her on the menu.

  21. Just watched the video. What a level-headed guy.

    Actually asks supporters to stop bashing Harper and stay focused on the democratic reform message.

    And a nice bit of levity right at the very end.

  22. I don't doubt that the main organizers are very concerned about maintaining a non-partisan image, but I'm pretty sure that their grassroots origins have now been compromised by a significant infusion of LPC talent (and to a lesser extent, NDP talent) into the ranks of the organizers and FB rally planners.

    Though the LPC is very careful to avoid any appearance of direct involvement, I'm pretty sure that the informal assistance provided by Liberal foot soldiers will play a major role in organizing and executing the FB rallies.

    • so you are suggesting this is astroturf CR? btw, have you had any first experience with anyone involved in any of this?

  23. There was a lot of debate even in Toronto about who should speak. I couldn't stay for it all. Olivia Chow and a supporter who came with her were not pleased. MPs may end up speaking: there are some good reasons for this as they do represent actual voters and are our voice in Parliament.

    However, the point was simply that the thrust of the organizers is strongly non-partisan. A guy from fairvotecanada said we should be talking about being multipartisan – i.e. all groups with no favouratism – and the organizers and also most in the seats attending didn't like that idea. At least for the rallies.

  24. I fear you may be right there.

    Got any other candidates in mind to lead the charge?

    One who could actually be PM one day I mean?

    • I think you're right on this. Consevatives have generally been out ahead of liberals on the issue of parliamentary reform. Now that libs get to see what it is like to be on the short end of the stick…we're mad. Of course there have always been principled critics, but thy've never been taken seriously. Maybe it's time for folks of good will from both ends of the political spectrum to demand change.

      • Some type of fair, represntative, accountable senate has been on my menu, since I was a boy.

        I've also always liked the idea of an elected head-of-state.
        Being able to directly vote for the leader of my country appeals to me, as well as providing a check on the power of the PMO.

        Granted even if the majority of Canadians accepted this template, there would be many different ideas on what powers the GG should have, and which should remain with the PMO.
        (and I can't imagine a sitting PM giving up any power)

        This is just a thumbnail sketch, and no doubt many would say it is not practical.
        It just goes to show that "pie in the sky" thinking is not exclusive to the NDP.

        • thanks for the reply AJR.

          as broad strokes go, i think these make excellent starting points for a discussion even if don't necessarily agree with them. It feels like, perhaps without intention, you are proposing something that moves us towards a presidential system. there seems to be a contingent in the country that support this, although i am not sure as to its size or momentum.

          in mind we ought to be search for reforms that reinvigorate Parliament and its ability to check the power of the PM. I guess I am not more crazy about an overly powerful head of state (GG, president or other) as I am about the current concentration of power re the broad machine of governance in Canada in the PM's hand (or even some split between the two)… I prefer power to be a bit more dispersed, and less subject to abuse.

          • It is good to have the conversation. For myself, I am slightly concerned about making rules that limit the PMs power, vs. the threat of consequences on misusing the PMs power. However, I'm not sure that ship hasn't sailed at this point. I would like to focus on re-empowering ordinary MPs. If that takes power from PMO, so be it

            I would like to keep the Canadian Parliamentary democracy intact; in my view every time we borrow from the Americans it has unhappy and surprising consequences–although I am one that otherwise wishes we could vote for the PM as well as our MP. But maybe we should go back to actually following through with the formality of having our MPs elect our Prime Minister–maybe going through the motions would remind MPs that they actually do do this, they have a choice, and remind the PM as well.

          • Jenn, can you elaborate a bit on this?

            "I am slightly concerned about making rules that limit the PMs power, vs. the threat of consequences on misusing the PMs power"

            I want to make sure i understand you fully prior to responding.

          • Yeah, sure. I was at work and hurrying and I knew it wasn't as clear as I'd have liked.

            Take the ability to prorogue, for example. Mostly up to this point the PM has had that power unfettered by anything other than the consequences of misusing that power. John A. abused it early in our history Since then other PMs have thought twice, presumably because of how bad John A. looked. But that doesn't seem to be an issue anymore. The power to prorogue may come in as a necessary, legitimately handy thing sometime in our future. So I'm slightly concerned about taking that absolute power away from the PM. However, it is apparent to me that the genie won't go back into the bottle at this point–or at least we can't realistically trust any future PMs from not using the power to their sole advantage. There are probably other powers the PM has always had which have been stretched and bent in the last few decades or so, so their use has become unrecognizable to our early-ish PMs.

          • sorry for the delayed response Jenn

            i guess i would take maybe two issues with this and ask one question.

            first Chretien also abused the power of prorogation. second, the problem with relying on the general "consequences of misusing that power" is that it seems that because they are so indirect they can be essentially undetectable. I think this to some degree what it is appealing to Harper. Chretien did it, and because the opposition is in disarray he suffered no consequences. now Harper does it twice. and i agree this same problem has affected a range of other powers like party discipline.

            it seems to be a major problem is that the potential for consequences is basically tied to voting non-confidence it is either "on" or "off". there are other signals (e.g., the polls) but don't really have "consequences" per se.

            so, the questioning, do think there would be a real challenge to getting opposition MPs to vote to support prorogation if there was a legitimate reason to prorogue (e.g., had the CPC actually fulfilled its legislative process and weren't trying to duck inquiry on any issue)?

          • Damn, I was sure I'd put "in recent years" in there since I was including Chretien's time as well. I'm sure I did somewhere, but not here obviously.

            I completely agree with you that 'consequences' becomes a yes/no single issue vote–and I don't think most people vote that way. I think most people vote by weighing the pros and cons–and especially weighing the alternatives. While proroguing two years ago may figure in your decision, what happened last week may be more top-of-mind. I also agree that a downward poll is not a consequence worth mentioning.

            For the most part, no, I think opposition MPs would vote to prorogue if the situation called for it. But that is not to say that some future opposition wouldn't abuse the power in the same way the PM does now. In other words, I worry that fixing the problem by turning the problem completely the other way will itself require a fix later on down the road. That said, I honestly can't think of anything else to do, and so grudgingly support the NDP initiative. We have to do something.

          • i guess i take some comfort in knowing that the ability of the opposition to 'abuse' the new found balance of power they would have under this arrangement would essentially amount to being able to make a government sit when it does not want to. and, while i do beleive their are legitimate moments for prorogation, i really can't think of a significant 'problem' created by not proroguing.

          • Well, I will certainly admit the problem of sitting is not nearly as bad as the problem of not sitting. And, the government could still not schedule sitting days–you don't need to prorogue if you just want MPs to have some time in their constituencies.

  25. I don't recall the CPC "moral majority" movement.

    I think you are confusing us with someone else,
    as CR is pointing out.

  26. I thought the Conservatives had taken over the revolution business. Being from Ontario it just seems common sense.

  27. The LPC and the NDP are not inactive. They are just doing their own thing. These folks, the Toronto ones I've now met at least, are not very concerned about maintaining a non-partisan image. They are concerned about this being a non-partisan event.

    You can believe me, or you can make stuff up or you can go check it out yourself if you want.

  28. ' I'm pretty sure that their grassroots origins have now been compromised by a significant infusion of LPC…"

    " I'm pretty sure that the informal assistance provided by Liberal foot soldiers will…"

    First: do you have any evidence of this?

    Second: if you do, so what? Is it any less legitimate if political parties contribute some organizational skills/people?

    My god, if this was a right-wing movement, all the conservatives here would be proclaiming its participants Salt of the Earth Grassroots Real Canadians Who Are Gonna Save Democracy. But they're organizing *against* Harper, so you all turn into a bunch of whiny cranks and sneer at these Canadians for organizing themselves.

    All you cranks are as funny as you are predictable.

  29. But polls are irrelevant, unless they're relevant!

  30. Again, I completely agree with you that everyone involved wants to maintain a non-partisan image and everyone involved wants the rallies to seem as nonpartisan and grassroots-like as possible.

    I'm just suggesting, and you haven't denied this, that active members of the Liberal Party are directly involved in planning the FB rallies through their involvement in the FB group. I wouldn't be surprised if the informal assistance provided by the LPC membership is substantial.

    I'm sure they're not exactly waving their membership cards around at the meetings, and they're not trying to turn this into a partisan thing, but they have a vested interest in ensuring that the rallies are as successful as possible so they're lending a helping hand.

    • "but they have a vested interest in ensuring that the rallies are as successful as possible so they're lending a helping hand"

      That would depend on your perspective, whether their interests are for their party or for themselves.

      Would it really be that improbable that the people you're referring to be able and willing to put the interests of their political party aside for the sake of Canada's democracy?

      What's really in the interest of the LPC is not that the rallies are successful, but rather that they successfully present themselves as "the solution" whatever the outcome of rallies. I don't see how the success of the rallies would directly benefit the LPC or any other parties. After all the goal of the facebook group is to initiate parliamentary reform.

    • And what about the Conservative party members also involved?

      The great thing about non-partisan grassroot movements is that they are non-partisan, no matter how much you desire to project your opinion onto the group, without anything to back it up but your 'gut'

      You are more irrational than critical in this instance.

  31. And the CPC had NOTHING to do with S.T.'s Rally for Canada in December 2008, correct?

  32. "I'm just suggesting, and you haven't denied this, that active members of the Liberal Party are directly involved…"

    "I wouldn't be surprised…"

    "I'm sure they're not exactly…"

    Again – got any evidence, or is this just your speculation? If you're just speculating, it's a little rich to expect someone else to prove you wrong. So: back up your own claim, or give it up.

  33. I think I see where the disconnect is between us CR.

    First, you think the Facebook Group is the thing. It is merely a tool and a way for Canadians to connect. Certainly there are lots of Liberals and Dippers who have signed up. And it could be that in some cities, the actual rallies are being organized by Canadians who are Liberals or Dippers. But I'm telling you that the Toronto rally is not. I'll say as well that the OLO is not involved in any organizing of these rallies.

    Second, you think I'm a liar, stupid or naive. Which is a shame because I thought we disagreed but had bit more respect for the opinion of each other than that.

  34. Oh, and and – whoops – I guess it wasn't quite last week.

    But still, one presumes those Canadians who expressed their majority opinions to pollsters did so vocally!

  35. I actually have a very high opinion of you, Ted, and I don't think you're a liar or stupid or naive. That's precisely why I was asking you these pointed questions – because I think you're a reliable observer. Sorry if there was something in my tone that offended you, and thanks for answering my questions.

    • I can vouch for the Waterloo Region rally planners, as well. I know they are not Liberals, and am fairly sure they are not NDP, Greens, or any other political party affiliation. I know all political candidates in the Region were invited, I presume to speak, but I guess I don't know that for a fact.

      And hey, I finally have something good to say about Gary Goodyear. He at least replied to the invitation. He won't be attending, but he replied! More than I can say about the other MPs.

  36. Imagine someone with their head so far up their butt that they imagine darkness improves the clarity of their vision — and I'm not talking about you, Dave.

  37. In the video, he looks horrible.He said before he wanted to steal the limelight of the PM during the Haiti crisis, and then he withdraw.
    Mr.White ,looks like a big mouth here.

    • If only Mr. White had a communications budget backed by the taxpayer…

  38. "Sorry if there was something in my tone that offended you…"

    Oh, please. Stop pretending you're nothing but a Con shill.

  39. *yeesh*

    Lighten up, crabby.

  40. Wow! They have an awful lot of rallies set up, and this guy strikes me as genuine. Canadians might finally be paying attention to Parliament.

    I'm going to the Victoria rally.

  41. Chrétien prorogued Parliament four times while he was in power. He had the confidence of the House, because he had a majority so that was different say left/lib partisans.

    Peter Hogg said that the GG had to prorogue Parliament at Harper's request and had no discretion to refuse because he also presently has the confidence of the House.

    Christopher White and his band of left/lib fellow travellers would not be taking any action if this was Chretien proroguing again.

    And we're suppose to be taking this seriously like Aaron?

  42. I think you meant to write "not" instead of "nothing but". I was wondering when you'd show up, Tiggy.

    • You're a liar, too.

  43. Yer heart's just not in it anymore huh? I think you need an extended Harper Holiday yourself…time to "recalibrate" if you will.

  44. Peter, I know they didn't give you a chair, but that's no reason to be surly.

  45. pants are burning, conbot!

  46. 'Christopher White and his band of left/lib fellow travellers would not be taking any action if this was Chretien proroguing again"

    Jarrid's really scrapping the bottom of the barrell now. Labelling a guy he's likely never heard of before this post with an inaccurate political sticker of his own devising, and making ludicrous hypothetical assumptions that nobody has any way of testing…Jarrid at his very best.

  47. Hey this thing could really have legs. If it can be kept from dengenerating into a get Harper movement, reform minded folks of all political stripes could end up winning here. It's our parliament…time to take it back from cynical political operators, and their apologist bagmen…whatever their affiliation.

  48. You don't have to worry about that.

    At least until Harpers on the stand holding a golf ball.

  49. Wow, such a nice young man. I'm very proud of him as a Canadian grandparent. I want to give a shout-out of thanks to the sons-in-laws and daughters-in-laws, who as Red Tories and confused, are attending the rallies in their cities and towns, because they love Canada as much as we all do and because they are our future. Go Multi-Partisan Rallies!

  50. 'Standing By' said it best above: "If I felt I had a political interest in dismissing an idealistic pro-democracy grassroots movement, and pounding it into the ground, I'd start to wonder about my values."

  51. No, s_n_m, I'm not suggesting this is astroturf. Not at all. I think most of the ralliers will be genuinely concerned Canadians who are not affiliated with any party. I just think that the Liberals might be downplaying their informal behind-the-scenes involvement with planning these rallies.

  52. Are you suggesting that the Liberals could organise their way out of a paper bag, much less produce several rally websites and 20+ local rallies?

  53. Heh. The Liberals of 2008 and most of 2009 may not have been capable of doing so, but the DonOLO seems much more clever these days. Anyway, I'm not suggesting even that Liberals are the primary organizers (though in some areas they may be). I'm just speculating that there is a lot of cross-pollination going on.

  54. "No, s_n_m, I'm not suggesting this is astroturf. Not at all"

    Yes you did.

    "I'm just suggesting, and you haven't denied this, that active members of the Liberal Party are directly involved in planning the FB rallies through their involvement in the FB group. I wouldn't be surprised if the informal assistance provided by the LPC membership is substantial.

    I'm sure they're not exactly waving their membership cards around at the meetings, and they're not trying to turn this into a partisan thing, but they have a vested interest in ensuring that the rallies are as successful as possible so they're lending a helping hand."

    At least near enough no matter according to this definition:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Astroturfing

  55. I also said that I think most of the ralliers will be genuinely concerned Canadians who are not affiliated with any party. And why shouldn't they be concerned? Prorogation was a terrible decision by Harper, and a slap in the face for democratic reform.

    In other words, there will be genuine and substantial grassroots participation in these rallies, so I don't think they qualify as "astroturf". But I also know that Liberals aren't exactly sitting on their hands while these events are being planned. They are contributing, as they have every right to, but they are also downplaying any partisan aspects because that would detract from the message.

  56. Well, realistically Crit, a very many Liberals feel this is an important issue. So if you are suggesting that Liberal individuals are involved in these rallies, I'm sure they are. But it is also important to many Greens and NDPers. It is even important to some Conservatives, although if they are involved in the rallies they are probably keeping mum on their political affiliation. That doesn't mean Liberals are the organizers–as I say, in my region I can attest that they in fact are not. But, if you were to count those individuals with political affiliations involved on the Facebook pages, and you were to count how many individuals from each of the different political parties there were, it may be that Liberals come out on top. Probably in some rough proportion to each political parties' seat count in the HoC, without the Conservatives.

    Which is to say, this is meaningless.

  57. but that would indicate astroturfing no? or at least quite close. the organizational part being key.

    the definition taken from wikipedia is "political, advertising, or public relations campaigns that are formally planned by an organization, but designed to mask its origins to create the impression of being spontaneous, popular "grassroots" behavior."

  58. Also, to my certain knowledge a good many people joined the Liberal party after the FUFU. It wouldn't be surprising if they are all now up for protesting FUFU Part Deux. And you can't accuse protesters of "partisanship" when the main reason they got partisan in the first place was the sort of behaviour they're protesting against.

  59. Indeed. People who don't want to be counted don't count.

  60. Are you suggesting that the Liberals could afford twenty paper bags? Gee, maybe they should chip away at the last Liberal leadership's lingering campaign debts.

  61. I've answered your question (hopefully) in my response to Dunbar above.

    • frankly i see your response somewhat as hedging CR. this is probably swinging the pendulum to far that other way, but, you either think the Libs are the basis of the organization – and hence this is astroturf – or you think that is a grassroots effort that happens to have a disproportionate number of Libs, Dippers and Greeners(?) that are involved but not the organizers per se, which would not be overly surprising, given as Jack and Jenn point out, that Harper has made parliamentary functioning an overtly partisan issue in the may he has dissolved and prorogued parliament (which is not the so the Libs have done so with as much or more veracity in the past).

Sign in to comment.