The Internet generation comes to Ottawa -

The Internet generation comes to Ottawa


According to Christopher White, creator of that Facebook group, he’s been invited to take part alongside professors Peter Russell and Errol Mendes in a Liberal roundtable next month about civic engagement and democracy.


The Internet generation comes to Ottawa

  1. What about the onion ring?

    • Oops. I meant to reply, so check out my answer below.

  2. Why? He didn't organize any of the rallies, he didn't even come up with the idea.

    • He started CAPP and did suggest the rallies or at least one massive one, has been engaged in the issue of democracy from before then, has been interviewed a ton of times since he started CAPP and clearly is very articulate and passionate and has a lot of ideas, he's non-partisan (and likely will continue to speak out against past Liberal practices), he's demonstrated a new way to engage a mass of Canadians, and he's young (unlike every other speaker so far).

      Why wouldn't they invite him?

      • Because it makes it look as though the Liberals are just jumping on a CAPP bandwagon. (And possibly politicizing CAPP to their advantage?)

        If they're really serious about engagement, there are lots of people who've been in the biz for years (and are still under 30!), doing research, running programs, and talking to both engaged and non-engaged individuals about the hows and the whys of their participation and involvement.

        Christopher White, however articulate and bright, came up with his idea based on his own gut reaction to prorogation. Legitimate? Yes. Long-standing commitment to getting individuals engaged? No. I think more a more suitable panelist should be able to speak to experience on more than one kind of campaign.

        • My initial reaction was close to yours. Minimally, it's hard to see how forming one Facebook group makes Mr. White an expert on these sorts of things. Not that he's the leader or holds much influence over the group, but it would be a shame to see him undermine the group's potency by thoughtlessly trying to stretch out his fifteen minutes.

          • Except he's been on the news every week since he started up CAPP and has been holding his own extremely well.

            If the question is, are there others who would be better or more appropriate? Well, you can make up your minds about that.

            But if the question is – and the original question to which I was responding was – about why would Chris be there? Then I think he has more than adequately answered that one.

          • "Except he's been on the news every week since he started up CAPP and has been holding his own extremely well."

            What's that? Four or five weeks of experience? Impressive.

            (I happen to think he's a very articulate and bright fellow, and my hat's off to him for getting the group rolling and being able spokesperson. But it's hard to say now if he's anything more than the equivalent of a 'one hit wonder'.)

          • To draw a comparison to someone you no doubt loathe, he's rapidly approaching being "Joe the Plumber," circa January 2009. Assists from hardcore Liberal partisans won't help.

          • Why would I loathe Joe the Plumber? That'd be like loathing a chair or a wrench.

            When a few hundred citizens get together out of rage and disgust with a sitting government, it gets pretty hard to avoid discussing alternative parties. Not sure that makes it a 'non-partisan fiction', but it's certainly my hope the CPC grabs onto that line of contemptuous dismissal and runs with it.

        • LynnTo and Sean

          The proof is in the pudding, no? White was one of the main persons behind the rallies a couple of weeks ago. It is nice to get people to talk about what they are doing to get people involved but White has recent, real world experience in organizing. Libs would be wise to focus on doers, like White, and not the talkers.

          Libs jumped on CAPP bandwagon long ago – they are just acknowledging reality by inviting White to talk.

          • Very smart for the Libs. Not so helpful for a group largely self-defined as remaining unaffiliated with any particular party.

            Then again, I suppose there's not much the Cons can do about it – to bandy about charges of Liberal or NDP manipulation would probably just re-piss off a lot folks who joined the group.

          • So do Craig and Marc Keilburger, individuals involved in youth councils nationwide, representatives of the Top 30 under 30, participants in the Youth Action Alliance, the Ontario Youth Parliament, the Students' Assembly on Electoral Reform…

            Would you like me to continue? The only difference between White's experience and that of most of the above is that the former's made national headlines.

          • Either of the Keilburgers would be great… but are you arguing Craig Keilburger has never made national headlines. Indeed, my recollection is that at one point he was an audacious preteen who leveraged publicity to achieve those great accomplishments.

          • "most of the above" – Craig certainly has made national news.

        • I think there is no doubt that the Liberals and NDP would be keen to jump on the CAPP bandwagon. I don't see that as a problem… it actually gives CAPP leverage in the next election campaign to drive parties to adopt serious political reform as part of their agenda.

          I am quite impressed by the White's resolve to keep CAPP non-partisan. As a result, I do not believe it will morph into a strategic voting mechanism (although it would be natural for many of the early joiners to want to participate in an ABH campaign.) Given that, I would be very interested to hear from White about his views on the future of CAPP. Christopher White is a better choice than someone who has quietly slogged away at the issue for years, not because he is more accomplished or knows more but rather because he has recently achieved something both very impressive and profoundly unexpected. He is the face of CAPP, and whether correct or not, there is a public perception that he has the potential to do more.

          • I take your point, and counter: if by acknowledging the contribution of CAPP to how we're coming to look at issues of engagement and democracy, and NOT acknowledging the contribution of those who have "quietly slogged away at the issue for years", what are we saying to those who have quietly slogged away at the issue for years – and those whom they've engaged in the public process?

            Engagement comes in many forms, and sending a message that individuals have to be involved in a high-profile public campaign in order to be "engaged" or make a difference is silly, particularly at this stage of the game.

          • How are we not acknowledging the contribution of those who have quietly slogged away at the issue for years? He's not the only speaker.

          • If he's the "do-er" on the panel that Stewart is referring to, then I think we could have picked a do-er better suited to sit on a panel.

            Really, though, I'm more concerned that anyone who hasn't really been paying attention to citizen engagement for the past 10 years or so will come in and piss all over the work that's been done to date on understanding how and why folks don't vote/volunteer/participate/whatever (and conversely, what gets them off their rears and into the streets). There's been some valuable work done, especially of late, and I'd hate to see a one-hit-wonder try to make the argument that it really is as easy as starting a facebook group. If the panel comes up with insightful ideas and adds value to the conversation (rather than trying to dispute everything that's come along so far) then the person doing the talking is less material.

          • Actually, although all of the speakers have their accomplishments, it is a poorly thought out trio. It would have been a good idea to add a couple more doers to balance the academics.

    • One short answer: kairos. Timing was essential, momentousness and such things as can be theorized about.

  3. Yeah, he's better off invited to the conservative meetings, where he could teach the prime minister a thing or two about being both personable and crispy. And accountable. Onion rings are more accountable to their public than stephen harper to his.

  4. Conbots get out your decoder rings. This proves…wait for it… that he was a Liberal all along!!!!!

    • What's that saying about reality having a liberal bias? :)

  5. John Ibbitson in today's G&M blogs bemoans the fact that we don't have our own Tea Party movement. Maybe he is overlooking the Coffee Klatch movement, now coalescing in Ottawa. It's been said that White "is like butter". The thought of such a movement here almost makes me "verklempt". "Talk among yourselves…"

    • "bemoans the fact that we don't have our own Tea Party movement."

      I was thinking about this last night as I watched reports on Tea Party movement. I was wishing we had something similar across Canada but I wondered if Wildrose could be considered our versiion of Tea Party.

      I don't know enough about Alberta and its politics but does Danielle Smith = Sarah Palin and Wildrose = Tea Party?

      • From what I've seen of Danielle Smith, she doesn't appear to be a completely useless human being, as Mrs. Palin is.

        Although, taking a look at her site, she makes such use of the phrase, "Let's make it happen!" it sort of is reminiscent of Mrs. Palin's "maverick." But she appears to be pro-freedom rather than pro-"I'm a conservative Christian and I want everyone to do as I say because it's in the Bible… Maverick."

    • Ibbitson is an embarrassment.

      On the other hand, I just heard one of the CBC entertainment reporters talking about Ian
      Brown winning the Charles Taylor Award … " Mr. Brown, who writes for the Globe & Mail has
      entered the field of non-fiction" …

  6. I just don`t know how you can start up a protest movement ( call it internet civic engagement or Facebook Democracy but it still has to have the feel of protest to be successful ) on something as flimsy as anti-prorogation.

    Some of you have convinced yourself that prorogation is such an insult on democracy because the gov`t is preventing the release of sensitive documents that a majority of maybe 5 Members of Parliament requested. But I would think a much larger number of people would not want the gov`t to release documents that would endanger the security of Canadian troops and diplomats especially if they suspected the political motives of the opp. pushing for the release.

    You can line up all the speakers you want but there`s just not enough here for any kind of momentum.

    • So, ignoring the will of the majority, in this particular situation, is NOT an insult to democracy?

      That's some interesting logic there.

    • "I just don`t know how you can start up a protest movement ( call it internet civic engagement or Facebook Democracy but it still has to have the feel of protest to be successful ) on something as flimsy as anti-prorogation. "

      You probably couldn't.

      What surprises me is how badly those supporting the shut down of Parliament don't get it, even though it has been repeated over and over and over. The shutting down of Parliament to avoid accountability was a last straw for many. After four years of shutting down Parliamentary committees, firing oversight civil servants, ignoring or shutting down or definancing oversight bodies, breaking promise after accountability and democratic reform promise… and then to shut down Parliament for no good reason and an obvious bully power ploy to avoid accountability…. Canadians just got fed up.

      I've said this is not a Harper-government breaker like Adscam. But it completes a frame about this "leader" that cannot be undone.

      • "The shutting down of Parliament to avoid accountability was a last straw for many. After four years of … "

        I was not the only person at the rally I attended who's last straw broke years before Harper became PM and is now grateful people are finally noticing that MPs are more concerned with partisan tactics than good governance.

    • I`ve always thought this whole time-out for recalibration was as much for the opp. as it was for the gov`t. It`s one thing to try to embarass the gov`t with never-ending questions about a seasonal flu but it`s much different to force the gov`t by a few votes to release security-sensitive documents. The public would see the refusal to release these documents as a common sense approach not as an insult to democracy.

      So if Harper`s position is , If you have a better more responsible opposition then we will have a better gov`t, you can see why it is a difficult position to explain. You end up with words like recalibration and 10 point drop in polls. But the long term effect of this progration will depend on the actions of the opp. when Parliament resumes. If they play this the way Harper thinks they will, He`ll be back to 40% by mid-summer.

  7. Christopher White is an excellent choice of speaker for a round table, and the Liberals are wise to listen to him, as would other political parties.

    What he did with CAPP was unite the disenfranchised. For four years we've watched Stephen Harper tear down all the barriers to complete control of this country, from stifling elected officials, terrifying public servants and shutting out our media.

    We've been plodding along accepting these things, even though we often asked ourselves why.

    Chris provided a place where we could initially vent and later turn our anger into action. This is more than just a Facebook group but a political movement.

    So hang onto your hats. CAPP is taking this country back one vote at a time, and it's all because one young man decided that rather than just complaining he would do something.

    • Harper shutting down our media? Sounds like your informant wants you to live in lala land. Or pehaps he found you living there already.

  8. I guess I'm just surprised at the tone of animosity and incredulity of such an obvious choice for a presenter. The very reason they are having these meetings is because Canadians, in very large part because of this individual, got organized to protest an attack on democracy.

    I don't know what Chris was doing before this. Clearly, he has been involved in political and democratic issues before his "one hit wonder" status. And unlike those who have worked in the trenches for decades, he'll be able to speak from experience and the personal about youth engagement, which has been a clear focus of the Ignatieff Liberals.

    As for the other objective of these roundtables – publicity – I think you'd be hard pressed to find any other individual on the issue of democracy who would garner the same media interest/curiousity as the guy who started up CAPP.

  9. Outside the Ottawa bubble, for most it's an issue of "the Conservatives decided they weren't going to show up for work" not "the Conservatives decided they're not accountable to anyone".

    The latter is a salient point (however contentious), but the former resonates more.

  10. Outside the Ottawa bubble, for most it's an issue of "the Conservatives decided they weren't going to show up for work" not "the Conservatives decided they're not accountable to anyone".

    The latter is a salient point (however contentious), but the former resonates more.

  11. I will do my best to bring the onion ring, but I'm not sure if I can get it through airport security. I will happily share it and my ideas with Liberals, Conservative, NDP and Bloc members, as well as anyone on the Hill that day. I look forward to input from CAPP members and will be hosting an open forum here in Edmonton to get additional comments before I take off.

  12. And to that point, White has been deliberate on CAPP to ask members to tone down the anti-Harper rhetoric and to point out that the Liberals haven't always been that much better.

  13. Christopher White will bring ideas proposed and discussed on CAPP's site. He is not going there as the leader of a mouvement, but as a representative who will try to display our concerns and hopes for a change in political behaviours…
    If other parties would invite him for such a discussion, he would do the same…
    If the conservatives would start to listen to people instead of spinning their views, they might gain more attention…
    But until then, people will express their voice wherever there is a place for them to be heard.