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The Commons: ‘I shouldn’t have to be here’

Canadians express feelings about the proroguing of Parliament with protests and plenty of creative signs


 

“If there’s a silver lining to the dark cloud of this political crisis in Ottawa, it’s an amazing, spontaneous degree of citizen engagement,” he said. “In a way, this manufactured crisis has woken Canadians up out of their so-called apathy.”

That was, to be fair, some 13 months ago and Jason Kenney, the immigration minister, had just witnessed 3,000 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.

Then John Baird was proudly declaring the government’s intent to “go over the heads” of the Members of Parliament and the Governor General, and go “right to the Canadian people.” Then it was Steven Fletcher, minister of state for democratic reform, encouraging all his fellow Manitobans to rally for no less than the nation we all hold dear.

Thirteen months later, a new political crisis. Then, the government side yelled “traitor!” Now, the other side yells “dictator!” Once more, our civic engagement runneth over.

Perhaps we should make political crisis an annual event.

Whatever the wisdom of crowds, and however exploited by partisan interest, it is difficult to judge the relevance of the public protest. Two years ago, 5,000 gathered on the front lawn of Parliament for a pro-China rally. There were no immediate calls for the country to consider communism. A year later, some 30,000 Tamils turned out to protest the conflict in Sri Lanka. Owing to some concerns about symbolism, only Jack Layton walked outside to address them.

Make what you will then of 3,500—a number equal to the crowd that rallied for Canada thirteen months ago—who gathered before Centre Block’s front steps this afternoon to denounce the prorogation of Parliament.

At its essence, the public protest is both charming and antiquated. A crowd gathers and chants and cheers and, when prompted, cries “shame” upon whatever shameful act has brought them there. Various individuals take the microphone to awkwardly and loudly air their grievances, almost all speaking roughly three times as long as they should. Periodically someone breaks into song.

This afternoon brought out the young and old, the peaceniks and socialists, the Nortel pensioners and autoworkers, the environmentalists and the electoral reformists. This being Ottawa, a place almost entirely unihabitable save for a two-week period each July, it was rather cold.

Chants involved various meditations on the theme of resuming one’s work and various rhymes for the word prorogation (nation, generation, investigation, television station, etc.). Jack Layton, beneath a wide-brimmed hat and dark sunglasses, wandered amongst the common men and women. A young lady read aloud from the list of legislation that perished in the great prorogation of New Year’s Eve 2009. The Raging Grannies, a group of elderly women who are somehow required at these sorts of events, performed a few of their self-penned tunes, somewhat dampening the fervour. A young man with a guitar singing a folk song entitled We Are The Beaver sufficiently revived the masses.

If there is some unimpeachably redeeming value in such demonstrations, beyond the physical and photographable display of public sentiment, it is the waved placard, one of the enduring mediums for political wit. Today’s signs included “I Prorogued The Dishes To Be Here,” “Your Sweater Vest Can’t Fool Us” and, perhaps most Canadian of all, “I Shouldn’t Have To Be Here.” Showing fine artistic skill for his age, a young boy traipsed around with a sign that read “I have to go to school, so why don’t you have to go to work?”

After a girl with a blue guitar sang a plaintive song, Mr. Layton was called on to speak. He reached immediately for his Reagan moment. “Mr. Harper,” he implored. “Un. Lock. These. Doors.”

The NDP leader was no doubt in his element, jabbing the air with his index finger and bellowing his syllables. He invoked King Charles I, the ultimately beheaded monarch who famously and fatefully clashed with the English Parliament. “I cannot advocate, nor will I advocate the decapitating of anyone,” Mr. Layton clarified. “We have elections to prosecute these things.”

Michael Ignatieff soon followed in his own meditative way. “You are a beautiful sight,” he said. “When the Prime Minister phoned the Governor General on New Year’s Eve, he had no idea you’d be here today.”

Mr. Ignatieff stepped away from the podium shortly thereafter and explained to reporters that, quite unlike last week, his side was interested in legislating limits upon a Prime Minister’s ability to request the House of Commons be prorogued.

While he did so, a band entertained the crowd with a song called Prorogation, sung to the tune of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah.


 

The Commons: ‘I shouldn’t have to be here’

  1. This protests are fantastic. No matter what results, it's good to get Canadians out of their apathetic inertia.

    However, I firmly disapprove of the use of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah with satirized lyrics.

    • Go Raging Grannies — all over the world! If you're interested in their commitment to social justice, take a look at our new documentary — "Raging Grannies: The Action League," about a Raging Grannies gaggle on the SF Bay Area Peninsula. These women do not go quietly into old age! Winner 2009 National Mature Media Merit Award. Available for both institutional and home use. You can find out more and watch a preview clip at http://www.pamwaltonproductions.com

  2. Oh Harper, what hast thou wrought?

  3. And a protest organized by the Useful Idiots of the Socialist Party, coupled with Iffy's chance to get ANYONE to listen to him and Zot!! You have a manufactured crisis, tailor made for Useful Idiots Inc. I'm really glad that the Government didn't have to argue with the same people that argued against having the very equipment that was used so successfully in Haiti. Can you imagine the grandstanding that would have gone on if QP had of been in full swing. It's a nightmare to even think of it.

    Prorogation of Parliament is a good thing that is part of how Canadian Parliament functions, regardless of the opinions of Mini-Marx (who will never get the chance to proroge anything) and Iffy that is probably wondering what this is all about.

    The flat out lies about the time line, spouted by the MSM and Useful Idiots Inc. and every socialist & liberal blogger on the web, are just that, Lies. The total time difference is 21 sitting days, the majority of that would have been recessed for the Olympics anyway. Much todo about nothing, me thinks. But then, if your stock and trade is lies, it's the best of times.

      • WTF is "Cobots"?

        Fail!

        • Oh, It is "Conbots assemble"…Jeez

    • Well, as I stood in the cold and blustery winds today, I figured that the best of times would
      to be at the protest at the beach bar in Costa Rica.

    • I guess it wasn't nothing to the conbots in Dec '08 tho. From what I can gather, the numbers who protested today were far greater than those last year.

    • Do you swap out the tinfoil in the inner lining of your hat when it gets too greasy?

    • You are doing a great job being apathetic. The rallies were not against prorogation per se, but Harper's "reason" (or lack thereof) for it. Get with the program. Ultimately, more people got out at these rallies than the anti-coalition ones last year (that I don't even remember hearing about in the news). You are doing a great job sitting at your computer whining about those who care. Keep up the lazy work!

    • You are sounding liuke an undemocratic robot. If you no democracy moved to China and take Harper and the rest of his dictative Government.You should be ashamed of your lack of caring for Democracy.

      • CPC . . . Conservative Party of Canad or Communist Party of China.

        Chairman Harper Wan Sui!!

  4. I see no mention of the 200,000 strong Canadians who believe in parliament so much that they could go to the trouble of a mouse click to show their anger. Where were they today and where is your mention of them?

    • I guess you think they won't show up in the voting booth?

    • Um, were you expecting them all to be in the same place?

  5. Amazing how fast the trolls arrive. Paid but the con party perhaps?
    Brainless claims that prorogation of parliament is a good thing are pretty telling.
    When you have no facts and no basis for argument just keep signing up to spew party talking points, aka lies.
    patsplace, why do you hate democracy? Why do you have such low self esteem that you cannot think for yourself and see what this government is doing to you?

    I feel bad for you. You are a sad shell of a human being.

    • Harper >democracy(this is a joke for people who have issues with Harper).

      Hey "real Canadian", we coming for you. The hidden agenda is in phase 2, muhaha…

      LMAO

    • It truly is remarkable how fast the pseudonymous trolls show up on every social site these days.

      It's kind a like it's a co-ordinated effort or something.

    • You call Democracy the creation of a faux-crisis, orchestrated by an opposition party & Useful Idiots Inc., funded by same party, with it's full intent being only to attack the party in power with lies and distortion of truth….and all this after being complacent with Rae's prorogation of the Parliament as he hid from the electorate rather than face the fact that he was bankrupting the province. Somehow this is ok and by the way, what makes you think that this is a Socialist web-site? You flatter yourself. Brainless? Check out how Canadian Parliament works and then stop back and apologize for the "brainless" comment.
      Paid by the Conservative Party? You're showing your lefty leanings, expecting someone else to pay your way just as the snivelers in Opposition feel that taxpayers should pay the way of the political parties, thereby creating a perpetual election campaign mindset. . We both know that the Facebook and the demonstration efforts are socialist inspired and funded. Way too many factory produced signs and flyers, all saying the same Dipper talking points.
      And thank you my self esteem is just fine, although if the socialists were in full swing, I would probably be sent to a "Re-education Camp" and to nearly paraphrase, I can see what this government is doing for me, not what it would be doing to me if the socialist had free reign. Remember, the Socialists kill their own, for the good of the State, Don't ya' know!!

      • Don't worry we'll hang onto a few of the privatized re-education camps … I'm sure you wouldn't want to be coddled.

  6. A nice description, but zero analysis of what prorogation means for Canada, or what the protestors actually wanted, or indeed, anything of substance.
    Classic Maclean's article.

    • Ah…you might want to check through some of Aaron's blogs for the last week or two?

    • Wherry's series of "The Commons" and "Beyond the Commons" are meant to be sketch descriptions, not analysis. Sorry he didn't write the article you wanted, feel free to go someplace else.

  7. The big loser in this is the media tools who were so invested in voter apathy.

  8. So, the opps are not going to defeat the evil Harper empire?

    The throne speech and budget will pass?

    Will democracy, keep PM Harper, er PM by April?

  9. Great post.

    Nice to see Ignatieff flip-flop on the position he took last week and announce that he WILL, in fact, support a law requiring a vote in the House before parliament can be prorogued. Clear'y he was feeling the heat from the protesters, etcetera.

    I still fear he may reverse himself again–so I think it'll be important to keep the pressure on–but "so far, so good"!

    • I would have thought te dippers and libs would be on the same page on this one…it's a little disappointing. But that's politics i guess.

  10. "Perhaps we should make political crisis an annual event"

    Yea''''! The traitors against the dictators. Who could we get to do play by play?

    "Chants involved various meditations on the theme of resuming one's work and various rhymes for the word prorogation (nation, generation, investigation, television station, etc.). "

    It's fortunate that it was the adjournment of parliament that was being abused? Toughie…over to you jack.

    Congrats everyone who turned out…the closest one for me was probably 12 to 14 hrs away…but i was there in spirit.

    • Oops…wasn't the adjournment…

      • 'S'ok, we're on it.

        Upon the theme of Parliament's adjournment,
        All own that Steve's a man of great discernment:
        Prorogue MP's, and next is their internment.

        • lol I'd gotten as far as discernment.

  11. AH yes
    Outrageously outrageous outrage!

  12. Good to see so many Canadians rallying against prorogation. More than twice as many expressing their opinion than the anti-coalition movement by every measure used (protest, Facebook, media and polls [to a lesser extent]), and the media proclaimed that an overwhelming majority of Canadians against the coalition.

    Will be interesting to see where this pro-democracy movement ends up.

    Canadians appear fed up of the arbitrary abuse heaped on our system…. it is time to remind the government that Parliament matters and is supreme to the PMO, regardless of how inconvenient it is to them.

  13. And a kudos to the small number of government supporters who showed up to voice their opinion, rather than just degrade the efforts of their fellow citizens and follow the lead of the elitists establishment.

    • Was it the elitists, or the chattering classes? Never mind, I'll ask Tony Cementhead.

  14. I can't tell what the writer is trying to accomplish with this post. "Protests are charming" seems to be the overarching sentiment, followed by a list of ways in which this protest resembled other protests. Right. Protests have things in common with each other. Maybe that's why they are called protests. But then, apples don't all look and taste and smell the same. Maybe the writer could have chewed this protest over a bit more before putting thoughts to paper. If he finds it "difficult to judge the relevance of the public protest," well, it's simple. People gather in the commons to tell the leaders what they want them to do. The pundits and the leaders have one job: listen and think. If we all start to look the same to you, Macleans blogger, maybe you need a vacation.

  15. Here are the latest media estimates for rally attendance:

    Ottawa 3500
    Toronto 3000-7000
    Vancouver 1000-2000
    London 500
    Waterloo 500
    Halifax 500
    Montreal 400
    Winnipeg 300
    Edmonton 200-300
    St. John's 200
    Thunder Bay 150
    Calgary100-150
    Kelowna 100
    Prince Rupert 25

      • There were not that many there,If there were 500 I would be amazed, trust the media to bump numbers. Lots of media , and lost of NDP signs, a hug e fizzle per the numbers signed on to face book.

        • frenchie101 were you there in fact?

          I was at one in Oshawa – about 250 people. Our group was split between the offices of our Oshawa MP and that of Jim Flaherty who is our other useless MP only in Oshawa / Whitby.

          I saw pictures of Hamilton where the turnout looked larger than ours by quite a bit and I know they had a rally in Oakville. It's going to be tricky to get final numbers because most were local protests.

          Which to my mind just shows how genuine this was – nobody was bussed anywhere or organized by anyone except within the groups themselves.

          • There were a tonne more on Facebook .Boots on the ground was pretty poor. Nobody was angry, if you want angry, you should have seen when the coalition of the stooges was announced.

    • In Ottawa, Kady O'Mally got an RCMP estimate at 1:15-ish of 3500 (see her blog; it agrees with what you post) but the crowd kept growing after that until 2-ish. (I haven't seen another estimate though)

      • Thanks. Updated.

        • You're collecting raw data. How profound.

          • I assume he's reporting back to Con headquarters. Or trying to save face by feigning interest. It's hilarious.

      • As it is with Harper, his government, and Conbots in general the lights are on but . . .

        http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=4645294&amp

        . . . no one's at home.

        [ps ~ Normally I would avoid using the term "Conbot." However, as Jack has recently used the term I now consider it a legitimate addition to the political vernacular. I am particularly curious where all the "new" posters showing up in this thread have come from? As Kelly Bundy so eloquently observed, "The mind wobbles."]

    • I'd say that save Vancouver, this wasn't a Western thing

      Mind you they were having a major snow storm.

    • I was at Waterloo, and I'd say it had a turnout of 1,000 – 1,200. It was a wierd venue with a skating rink in the middle, making it hard to add up, but looking at clumps of people in the pictures I took, that's my guess. The other thing I noticed (and am not adding for) was a crowd turnover. After the first hour (when the TV lady was packing up) a lot of the older folks left too, around the same time as a new wave of younger folk was arriving. This rally had originally been planned to start at 1:00 but a skating even caused the start time to be pushed back. Of course, it was a Saturday morning and when I was in college, I would have been sleeping in come Saturday morning.

      I went over and checked out Guelph as well. They had a meeting in the square, but when I got there it was breaking up, and they had started their march to the church for the no-prorogue perogies they were dishing up during the panel discussion. From what I could see, about fifty people broke off from the march and didn't go to the church. My guess is that the church had something like 250 – 300 people inside.

      Isn't it fun how Canadians are apathetic if they sit at home, and amusing if we rally for democracy.

  16. Something the Media has missed but Harper and his MP's know is the thousands of emails they got from this group – The common mindset that appeared amongst a dysfunctional group with a demographic that would send any economist or pollster running for the bottle. Divergent political views focusing on something we did not even have to think about until now – Democracy. Imagine that for one day Canadians in small cities and towns got their wollies out and gave the Prime Minister of this great country a wedgie!

    • a dysfunctional group?

      Hopefully you were going for disparate?

      • :) Only if you don't mean desperate? Yes Dysfunctional was a poor choice by the definition. I remain amazed at the group collectively.

  17. Thanks! I'll add that to the list. Does anyone have numbers for Quebec City?

  18. My best estimate so far is that approx. 15,000 – 16,000 people attended anti-prorogation rallies across Canada. (For Toronto, I'm going with the police estimate of 5,000).

    • So, what's your point?

        • Police estimates are notoriously too low, just as organizer estimates are notoriously too high.

        • And fair enough. I think we'll have a much better idea in the morning.

          After all, sometime a media source is more accurate than a person on the ground, and sometimes not. The first story CTV posted about Toronto said there were 1000 people (ridiculous). A little bit later, they were reporting "more than 3000". By the time I got home from work, CTV Toronto was reporting police estimates of 5,000. (understand, all these stories were from after the rally, it's not like the crowd was building as the stories came in, they just kept getting more accurate numbers and the initial estimates were ridiculously low).

          • Actually, the original 1000 figure was from CTV while it was actually happening, so that's probably why it was low. After the rally, the estimated range was between 3,000 (reported by many media outlets) and 7,000. I agree with you that many of the initial media estimates were too low.

  19. Thanks.

  20. Kudos to the people who were strongly motivated to show up at the events. It is unfortunate that the issue appears to have been highjacked to a degree by attendees who really were there to voice their own pet peeves.

    With some difficulty I waded through the hundreds and hundreds of comments today at Kady's place and Inside Politics at CBC. There was about one or two commenters only who voiced the original issue which was prorogation. I was stunned.

    One or two only. What's going on then?

    I don't care to try to list the other issues groups but tar sands, pension reform, raging granmas, CUPE, NDP, have so very little to do with the predicted demise of democracy through proroguing.

    I'm glad people were motivated to attend although it would appear that 3 weeks of fanning the flames by the media about the FB initiative, it has actually fizzled out for the majority of Canadians. Maybe there just has been too much major publicity into a wide array of faux scandals in the past two years that people simply are not taking our angry pundits seriously anymore. They are supposed to be journalists, not angry partisans after all.

    • Interesting how cons love grassroots protest…that is until they don't.

    • Selective perception Susaan, that's what its called.

    • I agree, it did fizzle.Ottawa had all its libbies and dippers out in full force.My son went, and he said half them said bring the kids, more numbers.FLOP and Fizzle with no sizzle

  21. Both Vancouver CTV and Vancouver Global on the 6pm news used the figure up to 1,000 for the city. The Council of Canadians and quite a host of other interest groups, as they referred, were prominently shown in their video feeds.

    Last years anti-coalition rallies, with no comparable media buildup, attracted 3,000, Toronto 15,000 and Ottawa 3500.

    • No media build up? What you been smoking boy?
      15000 …in Toronto…somehow i doubt that? Any evidence?

    • Hahaha. I walked past the anti-coalition rally in Toronto, and I can tell you it was under 1000 people. And that was with a fleet of school buses bringing people in from who-knows-where.

      • See, now that's just silly.

        Police estimates had the crowd at around 5,000. I've heard plenty of people say that that estimate is low, but your 1000 estimate is clearly ridiculous. Dundas Square can hold about 8000 people. I defy you to look at a photo of the rally there and conclude that you could increase the crowd by a factor of 8 and they'd all still fit.

    • Your numbers is bogus. You know, fake.

      • Hah. Obviously a Flaherty CONservative with number-issues like that.

    • Numbers I could find on the Interwebs peg the Toronto anti-coalition rally at 500 people…
      And I remember a big media buildup. But that doesn't matter when you're making stuff up, right?

      • I think you mean 5000.

      • Oh, wait, anti-COALITION.

        All these numbers flying around get confusing! lol

  22. Quite an accomplishment for the Harper government on the anniversary of their election to government in 2006–pro-democracy demonstrations being held in Canada!

    • I got an "on this day" email first thing this morning with that information. I've been amused (in a sad way) all day about it.

  23. 1)Between 1968 and 2009, the average number of sitting days per session has trended downward. This year, there will be around 110 sitting days, 80 if an election is called. Interestingly, Dr. Franks suggested that “…many (not all) MPs view [breaks, prorogation] as a holiday, and do no constituency work when they go home.” He also stated his belief that 115 sitting days per year (the average in recent years) is not enough to keep government on its toes and debate important legislation.

  24. In a previous post, I mentioned that Dr. Ned Franks would be making a presentation before the rally in Kingston today. Jenn asked me to post my thoughts afterward, so I took some notes during the presentation. These are less my thoughts and more just a synopsis of Dr. Franks's points, for those who are interested in what he had to say. The presentation was made to a standing-room-only crowd of about 150 people at Kingston City Hall entitled “What's Happened to Parliament?” He touched a bit on prorogation at the beginning, but spent most of the hour discussing Parliament in general, and some of the trends that concern him. I'll try to list them accurately (forgive me if any of the numbers are off, I was scribbling madly):

    (Rest of the post coming in chunks…)

  25. I'm not usually one to blame the media for anything, it was it is and people should get over their self-righteous complaining about bias (on both sides, often about the same publication, sometimes about the same article), but the constant media attention for those few days on how big the Facebook group had gotten was ridiculous, and now seems even more so. Clicking one's mouse has obviously proved to be easier than traipsing out to Parliament Hill or Dundas Square. Web 2.0 fails again.

    • Well, the anti-coalition FB page grabbed about 125,000 members, the Prorogue FB page attracted about 213,000 members. I would suggest we try for a bit of number crunching (is it possible to find unspun attendance figures for either?) and figure out what the average "live" response rate from net clicking is. If it's 10% or so, as it seems for both, that's actually a quite high response rate from a marketing standard.

  26. 3)In the British House of Commons over the past 100 years, the average turnover of MPs from election to election has been roughly 7%. Comparatively, the average turnover of the membership of the Canadian House of Commons between 1945 and 2008 is 37%. The highest turnover rate was 72.2%, after the 1993 election. According to Franks, short-lived MPs combined with long-serving PMs results in a weakening of parliament.

  27. 2)The percentage of government bills receiving royal assent between 1945 and 2009 is also decreasing. In 1945, the percentage was 94.6%, whereas the number is 50% under Harper (58.8% when Martin was in office). Part of this decline happened during the Pearson and Trudeau years, when the opposition began obstructing routine “housekeeping bills” instead of letting the House focus on serious bills.

  28. 6)The number of bills (not percentage) receiving royal assent between 1945 and 2009 has been declining. In the King-St. Laurent years, 67 government bills received royal assent. Only 27 have received royal assent under Harper. The average is currently 50. That means that either there was lots of work to do in the old days, or governments are trying to avoid parliament. Governments accomplish this through “government enabling acts” and omnibus bills, instead of introducing separate bills for different issues.

  29. 4)Of a number of government departments examined by Dr. Franks, there was only one whose Deputy Minister had been with the department longer than five years. Nine DMs have been with their respective departments for only three years, which Dr. Franks considers the threshold to learn the job. He believes DMs should remain in their posts for at least five years.

  30. I asked Dr. Franks what he thought about limiting the PM's power to prorogue. His answer was similar to the one he gave Aaron. Prorogation is an act of the Crown, not the PM, therefore, there is no problem with parliament putting limits on the PM's ability to request prorogation. They cannot limit the Governor General. This would need to happen one of two ways: the first would be a change in the standing orders that states the PM may only ask for a prorogation after the House of Commons passes a motion to prorogue. The other route would be to introduce legislation, but since the government obviously won't be compelled to introduce such legislation anytime soon, it would have to be a private member's bill. This could take years, given the current number of PMBs in the cue. Franks says there would be problems if parliament attempted to adopt rules stating that sessions must last twelve months, or that a prorogation cannot last more than one month.

  31. Sorry for the multiple, long-winded posts, everyone, but I thought I'd toss it all out there. :-)

    • Thanks for your citizen reportage of Franks' speech!

    • Excellent job! Very interesting. I absolutely hate omnibus bills, it seems so like cheating, and also one is always asked to swallow a poison pill to get the thing you really want. So I'll put that on my parliamentary reform wish list, now that I know it wasn't always thus. Also great information on MP turnover and Deputy Ministers. I hadn't given the consequences of that any thought up to now, and it makes sense what Franks says. However, if it takes three years to fully understand the job (which I believe) I would want a lot more than two years out of the investment. I'd put DMs remaining at their post for at least 7 years (barring incompetence, quitting, all the usual).

      Thanks very much, IntenseAlex.

    • Very interesting, IntenseAlex. I wish I heard a speaker like Franks at the rally I attended, one who looked at the entire system and said it was broken instead of solely focusing on proroguing issues.

      I am not sure what to make of Franks' point about DMs. On the one hand, it is good to have institutional memory but I also worry we will have too many Sir Humphreys running the show.

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

      • I think it's useful to have a DM serve for at least five years. Because you are bound to have the Minister change within that period, it's good for morale and efficacy for the ministry to have the XO know what's going on. Of course, that requires a good DM, but that's something else. Our Deputy's served under at least 2 Minister's, and we're a stronger organization for that. But, he is an excellent manager and has a unique understanding and history with the Ministry.

    • No problem, everyone! My pleasure.

      Just a quick note on the numbers for the British House of Commons: My notepad has "highest 2%, avg 7%" written in it, which obviously can't be right. So the proper numbers might be a 7% maximum, and an average of 2%. Either way, take that number with a grain of salt, but the point remains that is far below our 37% average.

  32. Its great that people are comparing last-year's anti-coalition protests to this year's anti-prorogation protests like sports scores. Never mind that they aren't comparable in so many ways; it is almost impossible to isolate any variable consistent to both of them. But go ahead and keep treating our democracy like an NHL play-off race, it will reach that level of relevancy soon enough.

    • Hey, fair enough, but it's to be expected no? I mean, all the people who thought the anti-coalition rallies were an upspringing of popular rebellion of which we must take heed seem to be dismissing the latest (larger) rallies as nothing worthy of notice. Similarly, I'm sure there are many people who were quite proud of today's rallies who thought the anti-coalition rallies were just a sad reflection of Canadians ignorance of Parliamentary governance, and not at all indicative of popular sentiment.

      It's kinda like Stephen Harper. He's all Preston Manning when he's campaigning, and all Jean Chretien once he gets elected.

      • I did the rounds of the MSM sites this am and the con patrols were out in full force dismissing not only the various reported numbers, but actually the rallies as just a left wing anti-Harper, whining, etc., etc. group. Amazing how the supporters of the cons last year said it was a grass roots movement, that the coalition was equal to a coup, etc. but now put down yesterday's rally. Bunch of f***ing hyprocrits.

        • It was pretty obviously a campaign – I noticed the timestamps on all the anti-rally posts were very early for a Sunday. At least it seemed so to me. Who goes online and posts vitriol at 8 a.m. on a rainy Sunday?

          Benefit of the doubt, perhaps it was the church attendance that riled them?

    • Hey, I'd be happy if issues of democracy could get the same level of public attention as the NHL play-offs. A lot of the businesses here in my town seemed pretty clueless why there were seven or eight hundred chanting people out front.

  33. Say, if you are not employed by the CPC, why the obsession?

    • It's a fairly unprecedented event in Canadian history, and as a news junkie I enjoy doing this sort of number-crunching. It's fun. I'll be curious to see what the final tally is. My new best estimate is still under 20,000, depending on what figure gets accepted for T.O.

      It's not like it makes a huge difference whether the final tally is 17,000 or 20,000 or 25,000. The important point is that large numbers of Canadians attended the rallies.

      • Where do you get your iinitial info from?

      • The final numbers won't make a huge difference, Crit, you are right. But as one of them, I am interested! I've never been part of an "event in Canadian history" before!

        Thanks for putting all the numbers together.

        • Hey, it's just another task that falls to the defence department.

          He has the time now that he's completed his exhaustive research
          on every word spoken or written by that Ignatieff guy.

          • Sadly, I don't think my secret admirers in the defence department have been too fond of me ever since Paul Wells highlighted my critical comments about the Minister of National Defence

          • I wasn't talking about national defence.

        • You're welcome, Jenn!

          • Thought you might be interested CR that there's a discussion in the FB group where a lady is tallying low estimates, high estimates and medians. Now, she's a member of the group, so there's that. Also, for Toronto anyway, she seems to be decidedly in the camp that thinks the estimates are way too low (a sentiment I've seen from a number of people who were downtown today) so she has the low Toronto estimate at 7,000 and the high at 20,000 (which surprised me, as I hadn't seen an estimate higher than 15,000 anywhere).

            Anyway, her numbers nationally show a low of 18,222 and a high of 44,573 (it's crazy how far apart estimates can be!) with a median of 27,356. I figure with more conservative Toronto numbers of 5000-10,000 (I know some will still think those too high) that puts the national numbers between 16,222 and 34,573.

            Interesting note on the T.O numbers is a discussion in the group about how at one point there were too many people for Dundas Square and so police had to block off part of Yonge Street. Given that Dundas Square can supposedly hold 8,000 people, the argument is that if there was enough overflow to have to block off part of Yonge to accommodate it, that there simply HAD to be more than 8,000 people there (actually, the person making that argument said the Square holds 12,000, but I heard 8, so I'll stick with that).

            Obviously all of that can be seen as being worth less (in terms of objectivity) than media reports, but I thought you might be interested. Even more interesting to me was that the woman doing all the compiling was tracking over 60 rallies. I knew there were a lot, but had no idea it was that many (keeping in mind that some of those were very small, some even single digits).

          • Thanks, LKO. I think the highest credible estimate is about 24,000 and the lowest credible estimate is about 16,000. Any estimate for T.O. that is higher than 10,000 seems wildly exaggerated. I'm going with 7,000 for T.O., which is the number that is most strongly justified by media reports. (The police estimate of 5,000 is probably too low).

            My final estimate for total rally attendance is 20,000.

          • Actually, it turns out the capacity of Dundas Square actually IS 12,000 people. Interesting to keep in mind when looking at pics of the rally (and it makes me think the 7000-9000 estimates may well be closer than the 5000-70000, just based on pics and video I've seen, and the fact that the police felt there wasn't enough room in the Square for all the people).

          • Agreed, but if people were moving around Dundas square they may not have achieved the same density that you would get when everyone is standing still and squeezing tightly together, which I think is how the12,000 max. capacity was calculated.

            Unless people were packed so tightly together that it was almost impossible to move (like some outdoors concerts I've been to), then I'll go with the more conservative estimate.

          • All right, that's it. Next rally I go to, I want a turnstile!

          • In my experience I arrived around 130 and I was able to make my way through the crowd quite easily until about 25 meters from the stage when things packed up tightly. Of course, the crowd grew after I got there and had already found my spot on the edge of the square.

          • I was moving around the square at about 2pm, looking for friends, and though it was fairly easy around the edges (i.e. by the metal chairs beneath the overhanging thing on the north end, and on the streets) it wasn't easy to get through the middle of the crowd. It wasn't tightly packed like at a rock concert, i.e. impossible to move, but you definitely had to ask for people to open a way.

          • Hi Jack, I posted this in reply to LKO on a different thread. Based on this site map Dundas Square has an area of 2,100 square metres. (30+50)/2*60. (not including the stage area).

            Crowd density estimates stem from the fact that people would each tend to occupy around a quarter of a square metre in a very crowded space, so for a tight crowd we could make a rough estimate of 8,400 people for Dundas Square (not counting people milling around on the nearby sidewalks and streets).

            I don't think the crowd density was nearly this tight, so even allowing for the fact that many ralliers were not standing in the square itself at any given time, I'm still comfortable with the 7,000 estimate.

          • That sounds reasonable; thanks for the calculations. I'd say it was that tight up around the stage, but not so tight in back or underneath the metal structure, which fits with your rejection of the 8400 figure. Thanks for gathering all this data, you're well in advance of the MSM (as usual).

  34. All of my numbers come from local media reports.

    • Wow,so you were working on this for hours, and you knew where to find the numbers, all across canada, and consolidate them in short order. I doubt anyone else here, especially me, could accomodate that without help.

      What's your secret? Emboldened after Jane quoted "your" blog that Pete was "advised" about?

      • It took me about 30 minutes to type perhaps 20 "city name" + "rally" queries into Google News, find the relevant articles, and compile the numbers into a spreadsheet. I don't know why you persist in making idiotic comments, Dot, unless you're deliberately trying to annoy me.

        • He's waiting for you to make a comment, not a report. I'm guessing you're currently shattering his admiration for you intelligently insightful wisdom of pure genius.

        • Sorry, don't buy it. If your genius (which I honestly think you have) is being wasted on 2500+ comments, and pooling facebook results without compensation, then that speaks volumes about the current state of Alberta and its investment in IQ.

          • I don't think it's a waste, Dot. I participate in online discussions about Canadian politics and Canadian issues because I really enjoy it, and I learn a lot from it. I don't think that my free time would be better spent by watching more TV.

          • waste of talent.

            whatever.

          • What is the number you're using to declare the rallies meaningful – or not? I assume that's where you're going with this.

          • The number of importance here is "155" – the number of seats in The Commons Harper requires for a majority.

            The numerical exercise that is demonstrated here is merely another vain attempt to count the number of angels dancing on the head of a pin.

            The actual number of rallies and the exact number of people attending or subscribed to the Facebook pages are unimportant next to the unmistakeable conclusion that Canadians in significant numbers have little confidence in Mr. Harper as Prime Minister, hence in his government and are prepared to make that dissatisfaction known in no uncertain terms.

            This could be learning moment for Harper where he could, ahem, recalibrate his conception of the mandate he has received to govern, however, experience indicates Harper may say something conciliatory but will likely dismiss this signal and his actions will belie whatever new position or compromise he attempts to communicate in his attempt to marginalise this event.

            His entire history indicates he will ignore the majority of Canadians who do not agree his positions and actions. He does not even have loyalty to or respect for those who did vote for his party in the last elections. [See Income Trusts, Michael Fortier, David Emerson etc. to the Acts that have died on the order paper due to this prorogue.]

            And that is why people marched in the streets Saturday.

  35. Oh and make that Kapuskasing – 1

    I went to see our usual place of gathering and found no one, so I went to Tim's for tea.

  36. As above, sorry. So many people are ridiculing or under-counting today's rallies that I replied to your anti-coalition comment as an anti-prorogation comment,

    Sorry! :-)

  37. 5)From 1990 to 2010, the average number of ministers per department has been ten. In the last ten years, the average has been five, and under Prime Minister Harper, the average is three. Conversely, there have only been five Prime Ministers in the last twenty years (three if Campbell and Martin are excluded), and 3 in the last ten years. Therefore, the locus of power in the federal government is the PMO.

  38. 20,000 people across Canada organized almost entirely through social media. I would say that's pretty good in the middle of January.

    I guess the next stage would be to (a) demand the Afghan documents and (b) require more honest budgeting.

    • 20,000 people manipulated by Liberal hacks. Led like sheep, a mindless horde of lemmings.

      • Answering the question (that nobody has asked) why did the CPC never attain a majority?

  39. My husband and I attended yesterday's rally in Halifax. The weather was colder than anticipated and I detest the cold, but it was worth it.

  40. When was the last time in History of Canada a protest against such "Poor Leadership" was held not just across Canada but in countries around the world!? 'NENER" !

    It seems strange that not only has Mr. Harper decided to give his MP's and Senator yes "SENATORS" ( Is it any wonder there was chanting of abolish the Senate at the Halifax Rally) a taxpayer extended vacation when Parliament should have been recalled early to get 100% collective political support in one room working to save lives in Haiti. How quickly we put a Canadian Dream Team on the Ice when a Gold Medal is at stake, not so for the poor and suffering people in Haiti. Shameful at best.

    Note to editors of the Canada's MSM ….. strange how you missed this thought in your questions to our absent PM, MP's, Ministers & Senators.

    • Conbots of the world unite, you have nothing to lose but your hackneyed cliches!!!

    • Wow, your website is practically unreadable. Here's a design tip: spare the bold, italics, different colours for text, highlighted text, and multiple font size. It becomes easier to read.

  41. This afternoon brought out all the lefys
    the young
    the old,
    the peaceniks
    the socialists,
    the Nortel pensioners
    the very high paid dictatorialautoworkers,
    the environmentalists
    the electoral reformists
    frinds of bib Ladden ( the Canadian islamic Congress)
    Queers Against Israel
    The United Church of Canada
    The Toronto Star

  42. There were around 12,000 on Parliament Hill one time protesting the Gun Registry. There were a lot of other protests and they were a lot bigger than this fizzle show.

    So, if a fraction of that on Parliament Hill is enough for liberals to howl about changing an election result, then surely 12,000 must be enough for them to finally agree to flush that tyrannical, irrational and immoral waste of money?

    • Ah yes, but the gun registry got scrapped didn't it?

    • Oddly that story doesn't turn up on a google news search. The most recent seems to have been in 2003 and had 250-300 people. Link: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/2003/01/02/gun_reg

      Which brings up another great thing about Saturdays protests – nobody got arrested and nothing was set on fire! I can't think why these guys could not get their voices heard.

      • I dont either, the media were happy for the day as well.But I see no reason at all why their voices were not heard.I just think it was a lefty get together, and of no interest, except to the parties that went.Clicking that mouse is one thing, one girl had her two dogs join- for numbers.Boots on the ground is another

  43. You should see the turnout if they ever tried to take away your Lego.

    • Don't use it. I am sorry the number upset you.ROTF!

  44. From this article in the Globe And Mail
    "A crowd of about 100 stood outside the legislature in Halifax"
    "In Edmonton, about 250 people"
    "In Montreal, hundreds also stood in a downtown public square"
    It is safe to assume that numbers are worse in other cities in Canada or they would report them.
    To think if anything these figures are inflated, what a dismal turnout for this big rally promoted by the partisan pundits in the media.
    Since the CBC took this demonstration on as a personal crusade with incessant publicity for the last few weeks, and yesterday running on screen messages inviting people to attend the prorogation demonstrations in their communities, must just demonstrate once again, that obviously nobody watches the CBC, and we should maybe begin a Face Book protest, that Canadian taxpayers are wasting a billion dollars a year subsidizing this broadcasting abortion. One thing you can be sure, after what Canadians saw on TV and read, these same pundits will not be able to convince Canadians this was a huge success and demonstration – it was a dismal flop. Three party leaders Ignatieff. Layton and May, at the rally in Ottawa as headliners and entertainment couldn't hold a thousand people there for the duration of the rally. Ignatieff will now have to go back to the drawing board, and follow through with his earlier promise in January "to investigate the conduct of our troops on the ground" in Afghanistan, who they have accused of being complicit in committing war crimes in Afghanistan because "they detained and handed over for torture a lot of innocent people". What is more, all Ignatieff and the Liberals have found, to this point in time for substantiation of their accusations of abuse, is some Taliban detainee being hit with a shoe, but their slurs and condemnations of our military continue.
    To end on something light, the CBC are reporting, would you believe, that in Calgary "a group of protesters gathered outside the prime minister's constituency office" ( it was never clarified but it was reported that these were people actually waiting for a bus and not prorogation protesters) and the CBC didn't mention, that in vast majority of the cities across Canada, nobody but nobody showed up.

    • Feel better?

    • There are videos and photos of the Calgary rally, and I believe it was about 250. That must be an awful big bus.

    • You did a bit of cherry-picking of the Globe and Mail article to come up with that one!
      Well, I did a bit of cherry-picking of my own and here's what I came up with:
      • “In a display that was anything but apathetic, thousands of Canadians of varying political stripes clogged city streets across Canada demanding Prime Minister Stephen Harper reopen Parliament and get back to work”.
      • “Hordes of protesters crammed Toronto's downtown square, cradling signs denouncing the Prime Minister's decision to suspend Parliament until early March”.
      • “More than 3,000 people closed down a busy section of Yonge Street to sing, march and chant anti-Harper slogans”.

      • “Former Nova Scotia NDP leader Robert Chisholm was at a rally in Halifax, which attracted roughly 500”.

      • “Grassroots organizers in Vancouver passed out hand-painted signs and buttons to more than 600 people who bopped to the beat of a funk band playing next to the Olympic countdown clock before marching through the city”.

      • “Thousands also turned up on the lawn of Parliament Hill in Ottawa for a festive atmosphere."

      For interested posters, you can read the article, titled: “Thousands protest prorogued Parliament – Canadians across Canada joined rallies to vent their anger at Prime Minister's decision to shut down Parliament,” at: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/pror

    • "It is safe to assume that numbers are worse in other cities in Canada or they would report them. "

      No it isn't actually. There were rallies in all kinds of little spots across the country at places nobody cares much about. I know people who were out in Oshawa, Whitby, Oakville, Belleville, Lethbridge (Alberta!) and really I don't have that wide of an acquaintance.

      There is a list at noprorogue.ca

  45. The report and the posts say it all. Only in Canada, a parliamentary democracy, would anybody, I mean anybody, turn out for a rally protesting a 5 week prorogation. Students, trendy oldies, fringe people like May groupies plus a few terribly sincere small l liberals exploiting their children were what I saw on TV, and not many of them. Go find a cause! CBC – you are rotten to the core. In fact, there is a cause for you – "WIND UP THE USELESS CBC"

    • I was at the one in Kingston and there were many families, and people from all age groups. Never saw any trendy oldies or May groupies.

    • It is gratifying to see that you are an excanuck;

      In MY country we have one of the most pitiful examples of "democracy" in the world. Many Canadians have given up in frustration… there is only so much beating your head against the wall most people can take.

      It is nice to see Canadians starting to stand up for ourselves. The nay-sayers and the ones who counsel futility are part of the problem. If you can't say something nice….

  46. I ask what else do you suggest that Canadians do if they disapprove of a man that they believe is abusing the power entrusted to him? It is our democracy. If we do not protest in rallies, then what? We can vote. Meanwhile, if you give Canadians disrespect and ridicule for standing up to a tyranical leader, then maybe violence? That would not be a good thing.
    McLeans
    Show some respect.

    • Tenni, you are way OTT.

  47. Senator Aaron Wherry. Dare you dream?

    Last year's protests were because Harper lied about the democracy of a coalition. This year's protests are quite different. Yes we hit the streets, but the CAPP site that is still growing, and is accomplishing something else. With more than 18,000 links to stories, his muzzle on the media has been snapped in two.

  48. Protesting the prorogation of Parliament is one of the dumbest things I've seen in a long time. It's just a Parliamentary procedure. Do these people seriously think that the Liberals will vote to abolish the procedure? Do they think that Liberals will never prorogue Parliament in the future? The NDP will never form government, so they can say what they want, they'll never have to put their words into practice.

    • I don't think people are protesting the prorogation procedure itself, but rather what they see as Mr. Harper's abuse of a parliamentary procedure by using it for political purposes. Normally prorogation is done after a government has completed its agenda as set out by their last Throne Speech. Thus, having accomplished their official agenda, parliament is reasonably prorogued. In this way, a session of parliament operates by being opened with a Throne Speech, and closed by Prorogation (or occasionally by calling an election, in which case parliament is instead dissolved).

      This is not a written requirement however. Like many elements of law that are derived from the British system, the manner in which prorogation is used has always been according to precedent.

      Mr. Harper however has twice broken with, and set a new precedent by proroguing parliament while there were still matters of the agenda of the Throne Speech to be debated and passed.

      Thus, these people are protesting his reasons for proroguing parliament, rather than prorogation itself. It's an important distinction.

      • Unfortunately you're wrong. I think that most of the protesters have no idea what they are protesting. Chretien used prorogation in an identical manner when he was being battered over Somalia, so your insinuation is incorrect. even if it were true, what does it matter?

        To use an established procedure in a new manner is progressive, inventive, imaginative, innovative. I see nothing wrong with that.

        Government's end a session before their agenda is completed all the time. I am so disgusted at how Liberal & NDP supporters are palying fast and loose with history and facts.

        • The Chretien example isn't an identical one. For one thing, the Somalia inquiry was looking into alledged abuses by the Canadian Airborne Regiment, abuses that occurred during the Mulroney PC administration and ended well before the Chretien Liberals came to power. In fact, it was called by the Chretien Liberals. It was temporarily stopped when the first session of parliament, lasting from 1994 to 1996 came to an end by prorogation. It started up again in the second session of parliament, when it was finally killed by the 1997 general election call. Thus, the inquiry had been running for two years before it was stopped by prorogation.

          That particular prorogation was of a session of the 35th parliament that had been sitting for two years. In comparison, the 40th (current) parliament has been prorogued twice in a little over a year and a month.

          And besides, just because Chretien sort of did something similar, how does that make it alright for the current Harper government, which ran on being more accountable and less corrupt than the Chretien and Martinite Liberals, is repeating the same old tactics but with even less lip service to our democratic institutions? At least Chretien gave the inquiry two years (and according to some, the inquiry by then had already well exceeded its mandate and budget).

          In comparison, Harper has dismissed calls for an official inquiry and has so far refused to even call one. Rather, what was put on hold was the House of Commons Special Committee on the Canadian Mission in Afghanistan, which heard Colvin's testimony and was in the process of scrutinizing the government's handling of the Detainee issue.

          • I made a few grammatically errors in that last post. I apologize, it's kinda late in the day, and I can't edit the post.

        • "To use an established procedure in a new manner is progressive, inventive, imaginative, innovative. I see nothing wrong with that."
          ===============

          How about when all that invention, imagination and innovation are employed strictly in the interest of avoiding debate and stifling dissent and avoiding consequences? This is the nub of the whole issue and was widely discussed on the Facebook board and at the rally that I attended.

          FYI Chretien was also wrong to try to prorogue in the same way but his career as PM was over then. Anyway, who cares what Chretien did except the CPC who are now sweating over the chess-master's latest blunder? It's not the opposition parties at these rallies – it's the people of Canada, really pissed off.

          Presumably you see nothing wrong with the people being progressive, inventive, imaginative and innovative in joining a protest group and then actually going out and protesting.

  49. I read in Christina Blizzard's Sun column today that Bob Rae prorogued the Ontaro Legislature 3 times, and each time for longer than Harper. Can any Ontario people provide any more detail? This is the first I've ever heard of this, and Google hasn't been much help.

    Thanks,

    Steve M

    • You mean to say that Saint Robert Rae MP actually prorogued too? Shock Horror! One is distraught.

      • One is sadly confused about the legitimate function of proroguing then.
        Mr Rae was not under subpoena to produce documents for a Parliamentary inquiry at the time and presumably had concluded all the business of that particular session.

        Really, this talking point is way past its best before date.

    • Rae's NDP won power in Ontario on Sept. 6, 1990.

      On Dec. 19, 1991, Rae prorogued the House. They didn't come back until April 6, 1992 (about 3 1/2 months).

      He then prorogued again, Dec. 10, 1992 — and didn't come back until April 13, 1993 (roughly 4 months).!!

      By 1994, his government were running double-digit deficits and he'd doubled the debt.!!

      He prorogued for the third time on Dec. 9, 1994. The House did not sit again until the legislature was dissolved April 28, 1995 (almost 5 months).

      Rae didn't even bring in a budget that year- he has no room to speak, and many Ontarians outside of Toronto know this.

  50. True enough… NOBODY should have to attend these unnecessary proroguee parties… How can veteran reporters and even gallery member types like Craig Oliver state that Stephen Harper has “shut down Parliament for the ENTIRE WINTER”??? Is this not dishonest and irresponsible channeling to the Canadian voting public?? The TRUTH is, ALL PARTIES agreed for the HOC not to sit for the Olympics from Feb. 12 – 28. This means that Mr. Harper prorogued for Jan. 25 – 29, Feb. 1 – 5, 8 – 12, and March 1 – 2. That is a total of SEVENTEEN WORKING DAYS ONLY. So, all the hoopla and ensuing “mass protests” is just a big collaboration with the Coalition of Stooges in yet another wayward attempt at a “power grab”, because they've got ZERO else to work on. They forfeit an assemblance of anything constructive that might benefit their constituents, all in favour of this new scandal they're trumping up on their own, this PROROGATE. LS/MS Media and their Lefty darlings have quite an arrangement going on…

    • Craig Oliver, whose age alone suggests he might have something to say worth the listen, should be ashamed of himself.

    • Actually with global warming, looking at the rain we're getting in the "snow belt", it may well be the whole winter.

  51. Not yet, the bill to scrap it was still in process when the session ended.
    As a PMB, it will restart at the same stage it was at before prorogation, though.

  52. A public protest on its own isn't enough to effect real change. You can go back and forth with numbers and turnout, factoring in preparation time, amount of money and media coverage…

    I don't want to get bogged down in that. What is clear from Saturday and this past month is that prorogation is an issue that many Canadians care enough about to write, talk and march about. If we are serious about this, we need to keep working at the local level. Sure, another protest on March 3rd (when parliament resumes) might be good, but even just writing regularly to your MP, or sending letters to the editor will help keep the issue alive.

  53. Oh Yeah there were 'protests also slated for London, England, and several U.S. cities." and how did that turn out after the lefty organizers told us this prorogation protest was sweeping internationally ( don't wait for the partisan political pundits to tell you after they have hyped this fiasco for weeks) – results are below and now can we hear the lefties spin this as a huge success – actually it is a farce when analyzed – is this the best the combined efforts of the opposition parties can come up with.

    "About 20 protesters, most expatriate Canadians now living in Britain, gathered across the street from Canada House – home of the Canadian High Commission in London – holding makeshift placards"

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/blogs/bureau-blog/

  54. The support against a Coaliton was huge compared with this pathetic prorogation "rally". What a joke!

    • No, it just really wasn't – this was already discussed (see previous page).
      And certainly, the rallies in favour of prorogation were pretty much nonexistant.

      But you do have a Facebook page with some people signed up – why not have some rallies now and see how they go?

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