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article imageGrowing number of Canadians are calling for parliament to resume

By Stephanie Dearing     Jan 5, 2010 in Politics
A week after Canada's Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, decided to prorogue parliament, some are daring to call Harper a dictator. The word is that Canada's democracy has been seriously eroded.
The Ottawa Citizen described Harper as "... our not-so-benign dictator" when summing up growing Canadian sentiment about Harper's move to prorogue parliament ... again. Harper made the move to suspend Canada's Parliament for two months at the end of December 2009. Instead of resuming business after a break on January 25th, parliament will now not sit again until March 3rd -- a decision made only by the Prime Minister. Professor of constitutional law, Errol Mendes wrote Harper's behaviour "... is another piece of evidence of a major shift in Canadian constitutional democracy taking shape."
With some calling Harper's move an attack on democracy, comes news that a one-week-old Facebook group, Canadians Against Proroguing Parliament has now got over 27,000 members -- and growing. The group is asking federal elected representatives to attend parliament on January 25th in a show of solidarity for the message "Get back to work," the war cry of the group. Rallies are being organized across Canada for January 23rd to protest Harper's decision to prorogue parliament.
CBC reported a Harris/Decima poll conducted in late December showed most Canadians were 'indifferent' about proroguing parliament. The growing grassroots anger barely even registered in that poll, thus the movement has taken commentators by surprise. However, while the grassroots movement is making the news, those who make a living surveying the Canadian emotional and intellectual landscape have already downplayed the importance of the Facebook movement. CBC reported: "But the question is ultimately who are these people?" Bruce Anderson of National Public Relations told Power & Politics with Evan Solomon. "Are they representative of the broader community and polling can help us answer that question."
"The mass of the population has become quite disengaged from what's going on in Ottawa and we have slices of the population on either end of the spectrum that are highly engaged and highly active in using social media to make their views known. But that doesn't give us a perfectly balanced and representative view."
National Post columnist John Ivison told the show, "This is not a groundswell of public opinion."
What is interesting is that while pundits and surveyors are busy dismissing the movement, the movement is growing. When the CBC story was posted, they cited a membership of 25,266 members at 8:30 am on January 5th. By 11:02 am January 5th, the group had 29,195 members.
Those who do not support the suspension of parliament are asked to write to their federal representatives, requesting their MP to return to work on January 25th. However, the Liberal Party has already said it is not interested in making a symbolic statement, saying the party is "... not interested in mock Parliaments." The Liberals also noted that Canada's other opposition parties had not expressed support for the return of MPs on January 25th in what is being called a parliament of the willing. The only political leader who has urged Canadians to make a noise about the suspension of parliament has been Elizabeth May of the Green Party of Canada. In a press release issued January 1, 2010, May said "It is ironic that Harper campaigned on the issue of accountability. Now it is up to Canadians to hold him accountable."
More about Stephen Harper, Prorogue parliament, Canadians against proroguing parliament, Elizabeth may, Green party
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