Saturday, January 23, 2010

Pro-rally, not prorogue

I went to the rally today. It was amazing, through and through. They're claiming we were about 3,000 in number. It had to have been more than that. As far as the eye could see, there were protesters, signs, banners. At the time I felt like I was amidst 10,000 people. It was that crowded and full on. There were likely about 5,000, maybe 6,000.

It was really empowering. To be so pissed off about Harper and to finally have an outlet with like-minded people was a relief.

And of course people who are pro-Harper no matter what, or who are apathetic to our government, or whatever have had a number of seemingly repetitive retorts:

1. Parliament has been prorogued over a hundred times before. The Liberals have done it. What's the big deal this time?

Well, when a minority government PM closes down the house of commons to avoid a vote of confidence he's afraid of losing, he's sidestepping democracy. If your party does not have the majority of seats in the house when you are PM, that means your party has to co-operate with the opposition who are in a position to remove you if you are too partisan. Because, remember, everyone else's elected MPs get a vote too, not just your own party.

When a government prorogues parliament to avoid answering for a scandal, such as Afghan detainee torture, they are avoiding accountability to the house of commons, which is a representation of the Canadian people.

Also, when you prorogue while there are still over 30 bills on the table and those bills are wiped clean and must be brought up anew in a new session, that wastes time and... tax payer's money. Who are the tax payers? Us. We are.

So it's a pretty effing big deal, yes.

2. It's legal. It's standard procedure.

There is nothing standard about avoiding confidence votes, avoiding being held in contempt of parliament, or letting 30-some bills die. Proroguing is reasonable if business has essentially concluded, not if there are still pressing public matters at hand to resolve. They're paid to conduct public business, and business wasn't done yet. Canada does not have a history of prorogation being used to escape the pitfalls of democracy, the pitfalls being having your power revoked if the majority think you suck.

3. Haiti is more important right now. What are you complaining about?

This is a rather new one I've heard, but it bears bringing up for comment. It is possible, of course, to care about more than one thing at a time. I donated money to Haiti. I also went to the rally. See? Easy. And just because our country is in far better shape than one of the poorest and devastated in the world does not mean we should accept whatever we're given from our government.

Food in our stomachs, roofs over our head, clean water to drink and clothes to keep us warm means we don't need to worry about our survival. It also means we're in a position to aid a country who needs us badly. But it doesn't mean our own country's issues suddenly don't matter. They do.

It's like telling a person that being worried about losing his job is stupid because his neighbours all died in a terrible fire. Terrible tragedies deserve attention, and we must respond to the need. But concerns close to home don't go away just because there's something more traumatic occurring elsewhere. Intelligent people can concern themselves with more than one matter at a time. The brain is complex like that.

End rant. For now.

Tomorrow I make quiche.


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