Thursday, February 11, 2010

CAPP to protest PM's visit to BC Leg

The Harper prorogue protest hits Victoria
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.

Minister of Democratic Renewal, opposes democratic reform

Editorial from the Barrie Examiner asking all the right questions.

New title hasn't done much to reform our democracy
the number of people who don't even vote outnumber those who voted for our governing party. Add the fact that only 30,000 voters elect each Bloc Quebecois MP, but almost a million Green Party voters get none, and you can see that we indeed have a real democratic deficit.

Such is to be expected with an obsolete system, designed over five centuries ago, not changed much since. Would you trust 19th-century medicine to heal you? Would transportation options of the 18th century get you where you need to go on time?

Of course not. So why rely on such an out-of-date approach to elections?

PMs smear machine in top gear

The PM and Conservatives continue to rely on smears and attacks to try and win over Canadians to their position.

First, the PM's press secretary Dimitri Soudas, a well known attack dog, circulated an email accusing NDP MP Deputy Leader of organizing a needle exchange protest rally which threw a wrench in the PM's scheduled visit to woo over the Chinese-Canadian community.

in the horrible event of fire of emergency, all those goodwilled people would be prevented from exit

Sure. Why not sow fear and hint that the Davies and the NDP are prepared to see people die to further their agenda (trying to prevent people from dying from unsafe needles. Here's an account from rabble.ca.

Woof, snarl, bite
Then the PM, through the party machinery and Parliamentary email system, attacked one of Canada's top bankers, Ed Clark from TD Bank, for having the temerity to suggest that Canadians were prepared to see some of the tax cuts rolled back in order to reduce the deficit and pay down the debt.

A member of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives, Clark recounted a recent meeting of the high-powered, 150-company group.

"We had a meeting two weeks ago, and almost every single person said raise my taxes. Get this deficit done," Clark said during a question-and-answer session at the TD Ameritrade Inc. conference...

Fear of reprisals from the Harper government has made some people reluctant to take part in Liberal hearings on Parliament Hill these past few weeks, Ignatieff said Wednesday.

Harper's response? Liberal shilling. Note that this was a round table of very wealthy executives who have undoubtedly stashed away a lot of money due to tax cuts from previous governments of both stripes.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

McGuinty to prorogue Ontario legislature

McGuinty prorogues legislature - Brief break to be followed by throne speech
Stephen Harper did it, so why not Dalton McGuinty.

The Ontario premier said Tuesday he will "briefly" prorogue the provincial legislature, probably next week, and then begin a new legislative session following the Olympic Games with a throne speech.

However, in announcing his intentions, McGuinty emphasized his prorogation is nothing like that of Prime Minister Harper, who has been the subject of considerable criticism for shutting down Parliament for two months...

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Hugo Chavez gives it to Peter Kent

Chavez criticism of Canada 'completely inaccurate,' says Kent
The government of Hugo Chavez has responded to Canadian criticism it is "shrinking democratic space" in Venezuela by saying it will take no lessons from an "ultraright" government that "closed" Parliament to avoid an investigation into the handling of Afghan detainees, statements the Canadian government dismiss as "unacceptable and completely inaccurate."...

In statements made this past Wednesday during a meeting of the Organization of American States, Venezuela's ambassador to the organization, Roy Chaderton Matos, accused the Canadian government of supporting "coup-plotters" and "destabilizers" seeking to upend the South American country.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

More on the PM's blink

Without coming right and saying it, PM Stephen Harper blinked with his late date proposal for MPs to work through their spring breaks. This will require consent from the other parties who have challenged the PM to re-open next week. The Liberals agreed. Not sure about the NDP. Harper blinked but he hasn't caved. He's not going to open early. Here's a good analysis by Susan Riley at the Ottawa Citizen.

One trick too many

The latest gambit is a challenge to the other parties to work through scheduled breaks in March and April because "there is so much to do." If there's a lot to do, it is because Harper needlessly extended everyone's Christmas break -- not that he would ever admit that.

Instead, he is back to "treating Parliament like his playhouse" according to early online reaction, back to strategy over substance, revenge over reconciliation.

And, again, he is treating voters like idiots.

Don Martin from the National Post also looks at Harper's cynical backtracking compounded by gaffes from various cabinet ministers.
Harper all but admits mistake on prorogation
While some call it smart politics, the government's sudden push to cancel two weeks of spring recess after Parliament returns in March reeks of panic-laced desperation...

Perhaps the realization they'd been too-smart-by-half is reflected in amateur-hour mistakes which run counter to the Conservative's cool disciplined style.

The Globe and Mail agrees that Harper blinked and suggest he may have learned his lesson. They want to move on but acknowledged that it was reaction from the voters which turned the tide.
Stephen Harper's elimination of spring break won't undo the damage, but it is tacit admission outrage expressed by Canadians has resonated in Ottawa.

A precedent has been set: Politicians disregard Parliament at their peril.


Harper's first 82 days

Here's a blast from the past - April 2006 - A look at the first 82 days of PM Stephen Harper. You Won't Recognize Canada When I Get Through With It - from Halifax Live.
The leader that Harper promised Canada he would be didn't turn up at the swearing-in ceremony but was replaced by a cold, calculating, rigid, micro-managing control freak who really is beguiled by all things American....

Thursday, February 4, 2010

First World Refugees: Prorogue

Flustered conservative Peter Braid defends latest 10%er

This is kind of fun to watch. Conservative Peter Braid attempts to defend the Conservatives latest 10%er - a tax-payer funded partisan attack on the opposition over the Afghan detainee scandal.

Harper: Blink

Harper sets a trap for the opposition
After weeks of being pilloried for shuttering the Commons, Stephen Harper is trying to win back disaffected Canadians by adding extra House sittings in March and April to recoup some lost time.

The proposal sets a trap for opposition parties, which must consent to the move or undermine their complaints about Mr. Harper's Dec. 30 decision to prorogue Parliament until March 3.
I guess the matter is now settled. Everyone back to your regularly scheduled programming. Why didn't Harper propose this when he decided to prorogue? Even as he's forced to make concessions, he has to turn into a point scorer.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

List of Regional CAPP facebook groups

This was posted on CAPP's main facebook group by organizer Shilo Davis in Ottawa.
Here is the most up to date list I have of regional groups still up and running. These are the groups that made the rallies on January 23rd a success!

There are so many things being done locally across the country, and not just addressing the prorogation anymore-many cities are taking it further, working on educating and engaging Canadians across the country on our political system.

One of the *best* ways you can get involved right now is to join a regional group and participate in local efforts. Don't see your city on the list? Get one started yourself. If you need any help or support, or have any questions feel free to message myself, or any of the other regional organizers :)

ANTIGONISH, NS
http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=246248767615&ref=ts

BARRIE, ON
http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=237914414270&ref=mf

CALGARY, AB
http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=233912789510

CHARLOTTETOWN, PEI
http://www.facebook.com/groups.php?ref=sb#/group.php?gid=238766311734

EDMONTON, AB
http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=236454117347#/group.php?v=wall&gid=236454117347

FREDERICTON, NB
http://www.facebook.com/groups.php?ref=sb#/group.php?gid=234542215868

GRANDE PRAIRIE, AB
http://www.facebook.com/group.php?v=info&gid=288793530796

GUELPH, ON
http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=236495265747

HALIFAX, NS
http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=232710139093&ref=nf

HAMILTON, ON
http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=151408734954

KELOWNA-OKANAGAN, BC
http://www.facebook.com/groups.php?ref=sb#/group.php?gid=394885890526

KITCHENER-WATERLOO, ON
http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=239179835749

LONDON, ON
http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=239854508755

MONCTON, NB
http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=256912420795&ref=nf

MONTREAL, QC
http://www.facebook.com/groups.php?ref=sb#/group.php?gid=240931110839

NEWMARKET, ON

NORTHUMBERLAND, ON
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Canadians-Against-Proroguing-Parliament-Northumberland/258879298874

OAKVILLE, ON
http://www.facebook.com/group.php?v=info&ref=mf&gid=236539101858

ORANGEVILLE/BOLTON
http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=247571019110&ref=nf

OTTAWA, ON
http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=240574036819

OWEN SOUND, ON
http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=238998635487#/group.php?gid=238998635487

PEACE COUNTY, AB
http://www.facebook.com/group.php?v=info&gid=288793530796

PETERBOROUGH, ON
http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=254193200352

PRINCE GEORGE, BC
http://www.facebook.com/groups.php?ref=sb#/group.php?gid=250466082857

QUINTE/BELLEVILLE, ON
http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=416217500077

REGINA, SK
http://www.facebook.com/groups.php?ref=sb#/group.php?gid=253266656648

SASKATOON, SK
http://www.facebook.com/groups.php?ref=sb#/group.php?gid=264977381210

ST. JOHN'S, NL
http://www.facebook.com/groups.php?ref=sb#/group.php?gid=254088136128

STRATFORD, ON
http://www.facebook.com/group.php?v=wall&ref=mf&gid=424036575017#/group.php?v=wall&ref=mf&gid=424036575017

SUDBURY, ON
http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=240530574180&%3Bref=mf#/group.php?gid=240530574180

SYDNEY, NS
http://www.facebook.com/topic.php?topic=12415&post=60400&uid=151408734954#/group.php?gid=246260841237&ref=nf

THUNDER BAY, ON
http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=233166837771&ref=mf

TORONTO, ON
http://www.facebook.com/specialshi?ref=name#/group.php?gid=267871867124&ref=nf

VANCOUVER, BC
http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=265618470844#/group.php?gid=265618470844

VERNON, BC
http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=252752207650&ref=mf

VICTORIA, BC
http://www.facebook.com/groups.php?ref=sb#/group.php?gid=247451223296

WHITBY/OSHAWA, ON
http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=235987597683

WINDSOR, ON
http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=257142152929&ref=mf#/group.php?v=wall&ref=mf&gid=257142152929

WINNIPEG, MB
http://www.facebook.com/group.php?v=wall&gid=275343198311#/group.php?gid=275343198311

YELLOWKNIFE, NWT
http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=258177948808

Consequences: How we can fire 22 Tory MPs

Electoral consequences proposal: Catch 22 (Tories)

Objective –To contribute to the defeat of 1 incumbent Conservative MP for each day of prorogation as a consequence for their abuse of power.

Recent events have shown that citizens care about democracy. People want to express themselves and to take action. They just need to know what to do and how to do it. People can work across their partisan differences when something bigger is at stake. The Canadians' Against Proroguing Parliament (CAPP) group has provided many positive examples of multi-partisan and non-partisan actions. Fair Vote Canada is another example where voters work together to address some of the underlying undemocratic causes of the political malaise that inflicts much of the electorate.

While the Conservatives are feeling some heat from proroguing Parliament, including dips in public opinion, after March 3 it will likely be business as usual (with or without a spring election). There is one consequence that will stand out for them more than any other and that is votes in the ballot box. A targeted riding level campaign to defeat 22 of them (or more) has the best odds of scoring some victories while adding some turmoil, uncertainty and tension to the Conservatives’ election game plans. It also sends a message to all political parties.

Catch 22 could provide a national, electoral focus that puts voters first. What follows is an overview of how we can defeat 22 Conservatives.

Pre-election period
Planning and preparation would need to begin immediately. Once an election is called, we are competing with all the parties. Raising awareness of the issues with voters at the riding level (while they’re still hot) also puts voters on alert for future abuses.
  1. Form a Catch 22 sub-committee to take responsibility for this plan.
  2. Develop a communication network and Catch 22 facebook/website presence.
  3. Develop a list of the 22 most vulnerable, incumbent Conservative MPs in Canada from as many provinces and territories as possible.
  4. Base riding selection principally on winnable margins of victory in the 2008 election and the extent of local participation.
  5. Identify local organizers and spokespeople in each targeted riding.
  6. Recruit volunteers to distribute non-partisan, pro-democracy literature to homes in as much of the riding as possible.
  7. Literature could focus on democracy issues, including prorogation abuse and provide a democracy report card on Harper. Encourage people to vote and provide voter registration information.
  8. If the capacity is there, posters could be produced to give more local visibility. Billboards could also be considered.
  9. Develop a toolkit that each riding group can use to maintain a consistent message, “Catch 22 brand” and detailed campaign “how to” information.
Election period
  1. Endorse and assist the opposition candidate with the best chance of winning.
  2. Endorsement could be conditional on their support for our objectives.
  3. Consider producing and distributing another piece of literature under the Catch-22 name.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Polling shows Canadians do care...

Proroguing government 'an attack on democracy'
More than four in 10 Canadians feel the Conservative government’s decision to suspend Parliament until March is an attack on democracy.

And they think the rules should be changed so the prime minister can’t exercise such “arbitrary” power in future, according to a Leger Marketing poll carried out Jan. 25 to 27...

But the poll also found that one-quarter of those asked thought suspending Parliament made no difference, because even when MPs and senators are in Ottawa, little gets done.
Again, a reflection of our first post the voting system which discourages parties from working together, even in a minority government situation where that is a requirement. Many voters are also ready for change to the electoral system. It won't solve all of our problems but it will provide a foundation for equal votes, fair representation and majority rule.

Friday, January 29, 2010

TRNN on prorogation

From The Real News Network. Short documentary on prorogation and Harper's standing.

Social media still being derided despite rallies...

A sort of jaded look at social media and political organizing from The Torontoist.

Digital Grassroots Puts Harper on Notice
If a poll were taken to assess the attitudes of Canadians, even the politically engaged, in the days and weeks before the January 23 anti-prorogation demonstrations, the results probably wouldn't be that flattering. Perhaps "failure" is an unfairly strong word, but to many, the predicted outcome of several weeks' organizing was an anticlimax, an end to which some less-than-faithful optimists found themselves resigned...
Well, at least the interviewed GTA CAPP's own Walied Khogali.
So when the time comes to organize, does that mean Canadians will rally as passively as they consume? Walied Khogali, who helmed much of the weekend's anti-prorogation action, doesn't think so. "With regards to the acccusations of 'slacktivism,'" he told Torontoist, "I believe Canadians have proven the pundits and cynics wrong. Saturday's turnout illustrates that. Only four thousand folks confirmed on Facebook that they [would] be attending that rally. I think on Saturday that number was tripled.

Rally videos...

Check out Ronzig the Wizard's Toronto rally videos.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Harper's Senate Reform coming soon...

Harper's Senate choices: If you're a (reform) Tory, you've got a shot

In yet another bold turn of events, the PM has personally elected 5 new Reform Senators to Canada's chamber of sober second thought. Senate Reform is high on Stephen Harper's priority list. By personally electing 5 Reform Party supporters, the PM is making good on his promise for Senate Reform and elections. The clear majority vote - 1-0 - in all 5 cases is being touted by the PMO as all-party consensus given that the House of Commons is not sitting.
"Somebody's got to take responsibility for running this country when MPs abrogate their responsibility with their incessant criticism of the Prime Minister", said an anonymous source close to the PM. "The opposition do not hold the same democratic values as our party. They don't even believe in Senate elections."
This will leave the Reform Party 2 seats shy of a majority. Canadians have a lot to celebrate and can breathe easy that the PM debunked the malicious libel that he was abusing his power by proroguing Parliament on December 30. The Peem's new consensus model of Senate elections is being looked upon positively by those who want to see more Reform in the House of Commons.
Insiders say there is another key qualification in this round of appointments: experience in a legislature. Although senators are often chosen from other fields - former NHL coach Jacques Demers went in with the last batch - the Conservative leadership believes it needs to shore up legislative experience to help drive government bills through the Senate.
There was a growing feeling that there plenty of qualified Reform Senators who knew how to ask "How high?", but not many who knew how to say "Jump".

Unemployed watchdogs speak out...

Former watchdogs speak out on Harper government
OTTAWA -- Three former government watchdogs joined with federal Liberals today to argue that Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his Conservatives can't handle criticism. And Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff is vowing that if he is elected to the top job, he will respect independent criticism, even if it causes him grief.
How about supporting electoral reform so that the PM can be even more accountable to Parliament and the voters?

The former watchdogs include Linda Keen, Canada's former overseer of nuclear safety, Paul Kennedy, former head of the RCMP public complaints commission and Peter Tinsley, the former head of the military complaints commission.

Progressive Canadian Party opposes prorogation

The Progressive Canadian Party (who knew?) issued a news release on Monday criticizing the PM's decision to prorogue parliament. The PCP is led by former Mulroney cabinet minister Hon. Sinclair Stevens.

Prime Minister Harper is acting like a ‘King of Olde’
Since gaining minority power four years ago Prime Minister Stephen Harper, through his actions, has demonstrated a lack of understanding of the difference between our country and the U.S.A. Canada is a Parliamentary democracy while the U.S. is a Presidential system. A large part of our problems with Mr. Harper is that he chooses, according to the circumstances of the moment, to rule like a King or like a President in the U.S. model.
Unfortunately, this party does not take a position on electoral system reform. Wonder how they're ever going to have their voices heard in Parliament?

Recalibrating democracy

John Baglow talks about prorogue reform in the context of overall "democratic recalibration". The first part of the article is a critique of Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff's proposal for changing the rules of prorogation. Baglow favors the NDP's proposal that "Parliament, as an assembly of the people's representatives, should decide as a body if and when it will rise."

Ignatieff offers no shape, no sides
There's another problem, too, and one of more immediate consequence. With the current groundswell of public concern about Canadian democracy, this is precisely the time when fundamental democratic reform as a whole should be up for review: the electoral system, the question of the Senate (elected or abolished), checks and balances to offset the entire range of the Prime Minister's considerable powers, and so on. Call it a democratic recalibration.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Mark Greenan on fair voting


Mark Greenan from Fair Vote Canada talks about equal votes and proportional representation with the Toronto No Prorogue Rally as the backdrop. Mark's remarks begin at around 4:02. Too bad he wasn't a speaker.

Electoral consequences proposal...

Jan. 26, 2010
I've posted this proposal for discussion on a couple of facebook group discussion forums.
=========
Here is Version 2 of my next steps proposal for discussion. The discussion started here -http://www.facebook.com/topic.php?uid=274918746064&topic=11772 - and I've tried to synthesize some of the discussion into a new proposal. (Cross-posted to the Canadians for PR group -http://www.facebook.com/topic.php?topic=12332&uid=307136413501)

Intro
At the root of the problem of executive abuse, prorogation being just the latest example, is our undemocratic and dysfunctional electoral system which allows the minority to have wield unaccountable power. Without making the links to our electoral system, we do voters a disservice by leaving the impression that we already have a democratic Parliament and that all they need to do is get back to business as usual. We let the parties off the hook on the big issue to bicker, tinker and distract voters.

Harper and company are fond of lecturing people about "consequences". However, they feel that they can act with impunity in abusing their authority in Ottawa. CAPP, or a new campaign, is in a position to exact consequences, go beyond protesting and point the way to reforming our electoral system so that all Canadians have an equal and effective vote and Canada can finally become a democratic country.

There is only one real-life consequence that the conservatives (or any party for that matter) understand - votes in the ballot box. We need to go beyond just protesting and punish the conservatives for their abusive actions. At the same time, we need a positive vision and realistic demands that can garner support around the country.

Proposal
1) Prorogue reform - Support Prof. Andrew Heard's proposal to require a majority vote in the House of Commons before prorogation can be considered by the G-G.
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/opinions/give-the-house-the-authority/article1426031/

2) Electoral reform - Support Fair Vote Canada's challenge to party leaders to fast track changes to Canada's voting system in order to bring representative democracy and proportional representation to Canada.
http://www.fairvote.ca/en/fvc-news/fvc-sends-open-letter-to-harper-fix-problem

3) Electoral campaign - Should the PM refuse to take action on electoral reform as per FVC's letter, we will commit to mobilize our base before and during the next election to defeat vulnerable, sitting Conservative MPs.
- target one sitting conservative for each day of the prorogation - that's 22 conservatives that we would help "fire" as the consequence for their leader's actions
- select at least one vulnerable conservative MP per province through a scientific and democratic process.
- support would only be given to candidates who support electoral reform.

Toronto rally slide show...

Great slide show by Kevin Konnyu from the Toronto rally and organizing meetings.

"I'm on a break"

COURSE LANGUAGE 14+ I'm On A Break is a political parody of proroguing Canadian parliament inspired by "I'm On A Boat" with T-Pain.

Harper's Prorogue Song! (Parliamentary Fight)

While this was produced after the 2008 prorogation, it's still pretty current. Kudos to Kendra Matheson.

Monday, January 25, 2010

News & op-ed round-up

More reaction to the prorogation and movement to oppose it continues to get media coverage.

Murray Dobbin - rabble.ca - The movement for Canadian democracy
A genuine movement with broadly popular goals of democratic reforms, including new legislation putting restrictions on the use of prorogation, a proportional representation electoral system, and increased checks and balances on the currently unfettered executive power, could form the basis of a rewriting of the Canadian political system.
The signals are loud and clear that the Conservatives will define a fiscal restraint agenda, with an attack on social spending and public sector jobs and wages... Our opposition leaders have about six weeks to change the story line and challenge expectations of how the next Parliament will open. Perhaps by closing it down over the very issue that is intended to divide and conquer us again.
Chantal Hébert - T.O. Star - Proroguing pattern now is set

There is a foolproof way to make the prorogation and dissolution powers of the governor general contingent on the will of the Commons, but it would involve amending the Constitution and such an amendment would require the unanimous backing of the provinces. So far, no party has advocated going down that route.

Roy MacGregor - G&M - Passion over prorogation pales next to political apathy

“Why,” asks one, “can't we have a coalition of men and women who believe in something and not just criticize everything?” A fair question. (re:Liberal Party)

Toronto Star editorial - Questions for proroguing PM
But nowhere is it written that prorogation means protection from the questions Canadians want answered. So herewith the questions we think Harper should be answering were Parliament sitting today:
Norma Greenaway - Opposition seeks to limit Harper’s prorogation powers

New Democrats posed in front of the closed Commons doors, singing O Canada in English as they waited for Mr. Layton to appear. Liberal MPs silently stood in front of doors aides asked Commons guards to open for the occasion, exposing the empty seats in what is known as the ‘green chamber.'

Greg Weston Prorogation should be deleted

A prime minister who can’t stand the heat should get out of the House, and call an election