We’ve seen this before: hundreds of people taking to the streets—placards in hand, rhyming slogans at the ready—to protest what they see as the erosion of democracy in Canada. Last time, if you’ll recall, it was after Prime Minister Stephen Harper taught everyone the definition of “prorogue,” when he shuttered Parliament for the second time to avoid accountability on the treatment of detainees in Afghanistan.
Yesterday, demonstrators were back on the streets of Halifax, St. John’s, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Windsor, Winnipeg, Calgary, Vancouver and elsewhere, demanding answers regarding the so-called robocalls scandal, in which thousands of people claim to have received calls directing them to the wrong polling station in the last federal election. Many called for a fully transparent public inquiry into the matter. “The RCMP and Elections Canada are investigating, but they are not independent,” Jon Allan, who helped organize the rally in Toronto, which drew an estimated 1,000 people, told CTV News. “We need something fully independent, like a Parliamentary inquiry,” he said.
Many people assume the upper echelons of the Conservative Party had a hand in interfering with the right to vote, but there is no proof. Still, as seasoned political analysts have pointed out, the scandal speaks to the lack of moral integrity in Canadian politics, where it’s become acceptable to play “dirty tricks,” cheat and even flirt with illegality, all in the name of the greater good of one’s partisan cause.
The outrage over prorogation largely disappeared before the next election. Conservatives can only hope that will happen again with this latest scandal.