The only protest that counts


Glen Pearson arrives at the crux of the matter.

Perhaps we should shift things around a bit.  How would it look if average citizens followed the lead of many of those at the rallies yesterday and actually got back to work, engaging in dialogue and ultimately voting their consciences in significant enough numbers to change the channel and undo the skepticism of our age?  That would be a marvelous thing – politicians and citizens in serious conversation.  It would have to be significant though.  Last election only 59% of Canadians voted – an all time low.  Will the PM’s caustic prorogation of Parliament be enough to turn the tide?

… On Saturday we saw Parliament subtly on the move.  Only the dedicated actions of more citizens voting their consciences for their party of choice will determine if that journey continues.


The only protest that counts

  1. "It has been well understood in the last four years that the Conservative plan is to turn federal politics into a mean-spirited and hyper-partisan playground, so that Canadians get turned off and give up on frequenting the polls and voting for change. Such diabolical reasoning actually seems to have worked for the Prime Minister."

    This might sound good to Liberals but it does not fill me with confidence that Pearson gets it. People who attended rallies on Sat might be angry with Harper but there is widespread malaise towards all pols and their asinine behaviour. Pearson is adding to the impression that pols don't get it when he accuses Cons of diabolical reasoning and mean-spiritedness when it's awfully hard to tell difference between Libs and Cons. And what does that say about the 38% of voters who voted for Cons? Pearson has some odd ideas on how to restore civility to politics.

    And if Pearson is looking for reasons why people are voting less, it is because of people like him who think they know best and don't care what others think. It is not a coincidence that voter turnout is declining as government gets bigger and bigger. Liberals and their big government ideas destroyed the little platoons that use to be so influential and got people involved in their community.

    I also like the the part where he blames the average citizen and tells us to get back to work. That's classy, Pearson.

    • Pearson sez: "…so that Canadians get turned off and give up on frequenting the polls and voting for change."

      In other words, Harper is nurturing a 'pox on all their houses' attitude among the electorate to foster apathy and let him get away with parts of his agenda that would be distasteful to an attentive electorate.

      Jolyon sez: "…there is widespread malaise towards all pols and their asinine behaviour. " … "it's awfully hard to tell difference between Libs and Cons." … "[Pearson] belongs to the party who had as leader a guy who strangled and pepper sprayed protesters. " … "Liberals and their big government ideas destroyed the little platoons that use to be so influential and got people involved in their community. "

      In other words, jolyon is saying 'a pox on all their houses'.

      jolyon, whether you intend to or not, your constant 'pox on both their houses' comments are, in fact, moving the ball forward for the Conservatives.

    • I think you misunderstand what he is saying. The "work" of citizens is to force all politicians, not just the Prime Minister, to be more responsive to them. The "get back to work" message isn't just directed at the PM or the Conservatives, it is telling all MPs that we want Parliament to return to its role of representing citizens, and by the same token we want to engage MPs directly and tell each and every one of them to put the interests of their party aside and put the interests of their voters first. With any luck it is the start of a real dialogue, but voters will have to work to keep reminding politicians who's boss even between elections.

  2. Some of us protesters were also out because we beleive Prime Minister's are accountable to the House, and without such accountability, the legitimacy of our parliamentary democracy is precarious at best.

    The spirit of democracy has been degraded by successive Prime Ministers, professionalized and concentrated by Harper, and allowed to happen by the people. Democracy as farce, democracy as decree and democracy as the system by which accountability and transparency are avoided and openly mocked.

    Our system is heading towards fewer people having ever-increasing unaccountable arbitrary powers. It is reflective of countries we would not consider healthy democracies.

    … and the Liberals are offering no alternative to the status quo.

  3. The same could be said, with considerably more justice, of MPs in the House of Commons, the majority of whom are not of the Prime Minister's party. They could take back the power any time they wanted. All they have to do is vote their conscience. The government could slow them down but ultimately the MPs would win.

    • Except, of course, that it's impossible to vote non-confidence while the House is prorogued.

      It's also impossible to carry out Parliamentary committee work that would hold the government accountable for its actions. It's even impossible to enforce the Parliamentary motion demanding access to the Afghan detainee transfers.

      This is a near-perfect example of bad governance.

  4. I guess but I don't see it that way. As far as I am concerned, the only way to show my displeasure with both major parties is to vote for a fringe party and decline to donate time or money to major parties, which is what I do.

    Me giving a hard time to Cons, which I do, is not going to help anything if everyone else remains as partisan as they are. And I loathe the Liberal party much, much more than I dislike/like Cons so I will never say anything positive about Libs because I think they are more criminal org than political party.

  5. There are two problems with saying that. First prorogation is a limited option. The government cannot function long without parliament and it will be back and I know and you know that MPs will be the same bunch of spineless wimps they have always been when they get back. The only principle, using the term very loosely, they will ever vote non-confidence on is if they think the polls are good enough for them to win an election.

    The second problem is related, the slow congregation of power in the PM's hands began with Sir John A himself and for nearly 143 years now generations of MPs have let it happen. In fact, the current "outrage" pales next to the efforts of Sir John, Robert Borden, Mackenzie King and Trudeau all of whom did more to undermine parliament than Stephen Harper could dream of.

  6. Let me back down a bit: I didn't mean to suggest that your dislike of all parties was insincere. But I find it scary to see (genuine and understandable) cynicism expressed with no hope for the future – that could lead to the kind of voter apathy that Harper is counting on.

    Seeing hope in fringe parties is a great way to express some sort of optimism. Personally, I'm torn on the matter. I'd love to see the Greens come into their own but I'm afraid of the damage could be done in the years it will take to establish a new party. It's the classic 'work within the system vs work outside the system' conundrum. But the good news is that neither side is right or wrong – to express a preference for one side or the other is to express some hope for the future of our democracy.

  7. "…all of whom did more to undermine parliament than Stephen Harper could dream of"

    Oh i disagree. Credit where credit is due…SH's been a very conscientious student.

  8. But time is a factor, especially for a volatile minority government. This prorogation will result in – what, maybe a 6-9 month delay in the Afghan detainee investigation? Anything could happen in that time, including an election. You understand – this prorogation could enable Harper to enter the next election without having to reveal his past actions to Canadians.

    Just because the abuse of Parliament is temporary doesn't mean it doesn't damage our democracy. Would you be ok with removing the safety controls from the Pickering nuclear plant, just for a little while?

    And to claim that previous PMs have abused their authority to the same degree as Harper is both irrelevant and utterly ignorant.

    • Pickering is a false analogy. Parliament shuts down every summer, safety standards at a nuclear plant have to be permanent. Parliament is not a canary in a cola mine, it's a deliberative body that meets at some times and aiIt doesn't have to be there all the time. At no time in Canada's history has there been a parliament that sat all the time.

      And why would it make any difference if there is an election? The Afghan detainee issue is just as embarassing to a future Liberal government as it is the to the present Conservative one. Or are you only interested in an investigation if it hurts Harper?

      And what is with the "utterly ignorant" crack? Are you incapable of having a civil argument without insulting people? I have never insulted you.

  9. Parliaments adjourn for the summer and committees can work through the summer, if they so choose. Everything is flushed down the toilet with prorogation. Your analogy? False.

  10. Actually, it's only embarassing to a future Liberal government if it turns out that they, too, received and ignored word of detainees being tortured. Given that the agreement was being struck as Harper was being elected, that seems unlikely.

    However, that wasn't the point, his point was that Canada could go into an election before the information is known, and Canadians deserve to have that information to weigh into their voting decisions, don't you think?

  11. What analogy? i didn't make any analogy. Do you know what the word means?

  12. Parliament is not a canary in a cola mine. It certainly *is* a canary in a coal mine. Parliament is the most important check on the power of the executive in our democracy. To categorize it as something that is only occasionally necessary is frightening. There's a big difference between adjournment and prorogation yet you equate one with the other. False.

    • I do no such thing. TJCook compared parliament to safety regulations at a nuclear plant and said no one would accept it if the regulations were occasionally adjourned. Likewise the canary, you don't want the canary there occasionally, you want it all the time.

      But parliament doesn't work like that and never has any parliament in the centuries of British parliamentary tradition. It's a deliberative body that works slowly and ponderously and it does not sit around being ready to respond to anything. Never in the last forty years has parliament ever sat for as much as half the year.

      There are legitimate arguments against prorogation but the notion that parliament is some vital must be there all the time or else democracy is doomed so popular around here is not one of them.

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