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Remembering Harper while he's in hiding

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Harper has tucked his tail between his legs and once again run away when faced with adversity and criticism, hoping that with the passage of time all will be forgotten and perhaps forgiven.

Our task is to make sure that while Harper and co are on holiday for a few months, we remind our fellow citizens of how this government is more interested in power and its own survival than working in the public interest.

Murray Dobbin and James Laxer have written excellent columns on premature prorogation and I recommend that you read and re-read these over the next few months. Also, let me shamelessly self-promote my review of Harper in 2009.

Murray urges community groups and organizations to convene to address Harper's latest anti-democratic maneuverings. I agree; something needs to be done by influential groups.

But, in addition to responding collectively to Harper's latest scheme, we need to vigilantly, as individuals, remind our fellow Canadians about the Harper government's activities. We must foil his intentions to treat this prorogation as a two month vacation.

How can you help?

Many of us come home after a long day at work, make dinner, play with our kids, put them to bed, and then we read, spend time with our partners, watch TV, whatever you do to unwind. Not everyone can attend rallies, but they still want to make a difference. They want this government to know that we have not, nor will we forget, the past four years.

Here are a few ideas that may help your voice be heard:

1. Write letters to your local/community newspaper. Harper has largely eschewed large media publications and prefers to connect with voters through local media. Meet him on his turf. Write letters to the editor about federal issues that you want people to remember.

2. Use social media. Start Facebook groups (there are already a few popping up and gaining media attention), tweet like Ashton Kutcher, blog, upload a video to YouTube. Make some noise! This is the realm of younger people, those who are typically apathetic when it comes to voting or caring about politics. Engage them. Let them know what's at stake.

3. Create flyers and posters and distribute around your neighbourhood. For example, devise a list of ten lies uttered by the Harper government, print out one succinctly worded statement on an 8.5x11 piece of paper, and post it to a lamp post or to a community news board.


Despite calling the Senate "undemocratic", Harper appointed 27 Conservative Senators in one year - the most appointments in a single year by any Prime Minister.

Quoting Harper or a member of Harper's Cabinet, caucus or staff can also be effective. Everyone loves a concise, pithy quote, especially if it oozes hypocrisy.

Like this one: "If you want to be a government in a minority Parliament, you have to work with other people." (Stephen Harper)

Or this one: "We will not run a deficit" (Finance Minister Jim Flaherty)

Print these quotes out, one per page, and tack them to a hydro pole or at a controlled intersection where people have to stand, waiting for a light to change.

4. Think of three things that have really annoyed you about this government (I know it's hard to narrow the field to a mere three) and make them your talking points. Talk to your friends, your neighbours, your co-workers, and mention any one or all three of your points when appropriate.

5. Contribute to a political party. I would obviously recommend the NDP, but you have to decide which party not only best represents your views but also which party can defeat the Conservatives. Having spent time in the Conservative trenches, I've seen what grassroots politics can do and what can happen when people unite to defeat an opponent.

Before embarking on a few months of proselytizing, there are a few things worth remembering:

Make sure you have your facts straight. Just because conservatives don't let facts get in the way of an argument doesn't mean we should stoop to their level. Indeed, the facts stand nicely on their own.

Try not to preach to the converted. Identify issues that matter to a majority of Canadians and not just to those on the left. We already oppose this government; we don't need to be convinced. However, those on the political fence, those who don't usually follow politics, these are the people that need to be reminded about the government that rules them.

Over these next few months, while Harper anticipates that we'll be distracted by the spectacle of sports and the banality of our quotidian existences, let's make sure Canadians don't forget his record.

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