Hundreds of members of the Victoria and Vancouver chapters of Canadians Against Proroguing Parliament plan to rally outside B.C.'s Legislature today [Thursday, February 11] when Prime Minister Stephen Harper arrives to address MLAs.
The address comes a day before the opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games, which he also will attend.
British Columbians will not be amused. Mr. Harper will be met by a peaceful group of pro-democracy activists on the lawn of the legislature, with a clear message: Stop playing Games with our democracy.
When Mr. Harper tried to slip the shutdown of parliament past us during the Christmas holiday, he gambled that Canadians wouldn't notice, or wouldn't care. He lost. Over 200,000 Canadians expressed their anger on Facebook, and thousands braved winter weather to show up at protests in cities across the nation.
Speaker after speaker tore holes in Mr. Harper's feeble excuses for prorogue. They questioned why he needed to shut down parliament to work on his ‘Economic Action Plan' when his own finance minister admitted that 97 per cent of the funds had already been committed. They didn't buy the excuse that "the Liberals did it too" either. This anger spilled over into the polls, where Conservative popularity has dropped like a stone.
In a lighter vein, a Facebook poll garnered over 150,000 "fans" for a plain onion ring, while Harper's Facebook fans list stays stalled at less than 30,000.
The consequences of a lack of parliamentary oversight were evident again last week when Harper announced an agreement to allow Canadian companies some access to U.S. stimulus projects that had been restricted under "Buy American" provisions. Had Harper made this announcement in parliament, he would have had to face tough questioning over why he made so many new concessions just to get the U.S. to stop violating the existing NAFTA agreement. The less charitable among us might argue that Brian Mulroney ‘sold off parts of the family farm' in 1988, while Harper "gave away the rest" in 2010.
The bottom line for the Victoria legislature protestors is that they're tired of the incessant political tactics and game playing in Ottawa. They want a prime minister who is not afraid to face parliamentary scrutiny. They want to see real leadership, and a real vision for our country. Is this too much for Canadians to ask?
For those near Victoria interested in participating in a peaceful protest, the details are:
Name of the event: Harper, stop playing games with democracy.
Time: 1:30 p.m.
Date: Thursday February 11th
Place: Front lawn of the B.C. Legislature
You can find out more by visiting this Facebook group.
Bob Hamilton is a grumpy old fogey, who usually votes Conservative, but just got tired of Mr. Harper's games. He is a member of Canadians Against Proroguing Parliament -- Vancouver.
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