No wonder it was chaos at first. Hundreds flooded the unmiked basement space in Hart House booked for the Friday, January 8, organizing meeting for the January 23 anti-prorogue rally.

The room was so stuffed that fire regs forced staff to shut it down and move it upstairs just as the convenors were trying to get the thing started. As we shuffled through the hallway, Judy Rebick whispered in my ear, “I’ve been to rallies that were smaller than this.”

Given the time crunch, the group in charge figured the crowd would be put to better use if divvied into action groups. Soon enough, much smaller circles were mulling things like how to do publicity, tech support or budgeting.

It was announced that Yonge-Dundas Square is booked, with stage and sound confirmed. Good work. But of course, this refreshingly practical approach left little for the committee of the whole. Larger issues like how to craft the message or how this rally might break the standard protest mould were not up for discussion.

“Get back to work” was the message to Parliament articulated by those who called the meeting. “Direct action” was raised and quickly voted down. But there was no time to offer up the idea that the irate-taxpayer vibe of “Get back to work” might work best if we added a consequence like “Fire them if they don’t.”

On Friday (January 15) at 5:15 pm, there’s another planning meeting at Hart House. Meanwhile the list of rally locations in every province and territory continues to grow.

Heartening, too, are Harper’s polling numbers, which have narrowed to a mere five-point lead over the hapless Liberals. Sadly, Michael Ignatieff shows all his usual signs of not getting the point, despite Harper’s crashing support.

Ignatieff’s touring universities this week to provide an antidote to cynicism in politics, while his continuing reluctance to stand for anything meaningful invokes the malady he purports to address. Too bad his plan to “keep Parliament working” wasn’t coordinated with his Opposition colleagues. That could have been a powerful unified statement. But at least we know the Bloc and NDP won’t prop up this government come a new budget in March.

We will have to take the election-ready message to these rallies, because Iggy, in particular, isn’t smart enough to figure out that this is what the price must be for this confidence-destroying prorogue.


Cross-country rallies hitting 40+ cities. Toronto event at Yonge-Dundas Square Sat, Jan 23. 1 pm. See for details.

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