Tuesday, January 13, 2009

perogies not proroguing

It's old news but I didn't have a blog when it happened, so I'll mention this pic now:

That's April and me on Parliament Hill after the prorogation of parliament, holding our signs in the bitter Ottawa cold. We were unaware of whoever took and posted the photo and we only discovered it after April's sister googled "prorogation" with "perogies."

I got pretty worked up after the governor general made the decision to grant Harper's request to suspend parliament. (My passions have since cooled, which I suppose was Harper's point in doing what he did). We jumped on a bus for Ottawa with the intention of joining whatever protest we could find.

After getting some cardboard from a grocery store and making our anti-Harper signs, we walked to the hill where we found a thousand or so excited protesters. It turned out to be a pro-conservative rally. We spent most of the day in heated debate with a gaggle of conservatives angered by our party-crashing ways (they thought we were audacious when we were really just hapless). At one point a CTV camera crew, who was approaching us for an interview, was trailed by some conservative who was shouting "biased media" and "what are you talking to those lefties for!" But mostly we just argued with the conservatives, which was kind of what I wanted to be doing at the time. There wern't any hard feelings when we all walked away.

I'm still angered by the rhetoric that came from the Conservatives at the time. Phrases that were being thrown around included "coup d'etat" and "undemocratic." The Conservatives were taking advantage of widespread ignorance in how the Canadian system works: a poll showed that a majority of Canadians can't even name the head of state. I imagine most people have a vague feeling that the Canadian political system works like the American. It doesn't. If it did, the actions of the coalition truly would have been "undemocratic," but exploiting that ignorance to accuse the opposition of insurrection, was despicable. With that and with the lashing out at Quebec, as if Harper was a mad dog backed into a corner, I feel like the mask was taken off and we all saw the real Harper.

On the other hand, I've since come to believe a coalition wouldn't have been in the best interest of Canada. While the idea of a coalition is perfectly in keeping with Canadian democracy, conservative voters, especially those in the west, would have been so enraged by a change of government that the country would have polarized in an extreme way. My argument at the time was: "the only issue that matters is that Harper lost the confidence of parliament." That's still true, but polls have been showing majorities against a Liberal/NDP coalition, hinting that if the coalition was offered during the election, the conservatives would have won a majority. In any case, Ignatieff isn't too enthusiastic about the idea so it seems less likely to happen now.

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