Saturday, January 30, 2010

Canadians Against Proroguing Parliament: What Next?

When Christopher White started his Facebook group: Canadians Against Proroguing Parliament, I don't think he had any idea that it would create such a groundswell of public support. (Membership now 221,089)

Naysayers can suggest that the media created the hype, or that it's a single issue group that will fade once the Parliament sits again; but I believe that something else has happened. It may have originated from our anger at the horrendous abuse of power, but it's fast becoming something more important. A vehicle for change.

And not just a change in government, but in the way this country is being governed. As the woman suggests in the song, we are taking our country back. And that seems to be a popular sentiment at CAPP. We're mad, and we're motivated, and we're not going to take it anymore.

We've got pollsters scratching their heads, uncomfortable with predicting what will happen next, but I say to them, just watch us.

Because this is not just a group of young people, bored and looking for something to do. Probably at least half of us, are older, and while I initially thought we might mentor the young pups, I've learned more from them, than I could possibly teach.

They are very engaged, and while they have difficulty connecting with politicians, they have very clear goals. This country may have taken a sharp right turn, but we're going to swing it back.

Stephen Harper has opened our eyes to just how fragile our democracy had become, so we now realize that we are the only ones who can change things. And we'll do that by demanding change. Not simply asking for it. If they want our vote they'll have to earn it.

This is OUR country. This is OUR government. Those are OUR Parliament buildings, and no matter who the next prime minister is, he will govern on OUR terms. We deserve nothing less.

Look at those people in the video. They will all be voting, and do you think they're going to vote Conservative? Not on your life.

So we are allowing politicians to strut their stuff, and we are encouraging people to donate to political parties and make sure they exercise their right to vote; but we are promoting all progressive parties, who will put us and this country first.

I'm sticking with Michael Ignatieff, and come election time I will work very hard on his behalf, but he will not get a free ride. CAPP is now the official opposition.

And we even made Wikipedia. How cool is that? And local newspapers in Conservative ridings are changing public opinion.

Facebook: not just a distraction for students, but a tool for organizing change
By Christopher White
January 18, 2010

As our prime minister put the breaks on a so-called democracy, what were the talking heads on the evening news and line-art sketched faces in newsprint saying? They were assuring us that we didn't care about prorogation while they busied themselves discussing the tactical brilliance of Mr. Harper's assault on democracy rather than the simple question of whether it was right or wrong.

We were told that we would forget about it and that we could look to a Conservative majority sometime after the Olympics. In the pre-social networking age they might have been right, but as over 200,000 Canadians have proven, even the experts can get it wrong.

Days after the announcement of the prorogue, I started a Facebook group, Canadians Against Proroguing Parliament, with the simple idea of getting Canadians to write to their Members of Parliament and asking them to return to the Hill on January 25th, the day the session was set to resume. Honestly, I didn't actually think it would work.

Sure, I thought it would be great if we had a couple backbenchers showing up, but the best I had hoped for was to keep Mr. Harper's party south of that 40% threshold, humbling him to the will of the Canadian people. My action, however, has snowballed into a movement encompassing Canadians from across the country and the political spectrum.

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....

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