About the Blog:

Guelph Politico is locally sourced and dedicated to covering the political and cultural scene in the City of Guelph. Est. 2008.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Scenes from an Anti-Proroguing Protest (Royal City Edition)

It was the perfect day for a proroguing protest. The sun was shining, the crowd was large and the only voice representing the Conservatives was the schizophrenic lady that hangs around downtown. But all joking aside, today's event downtown was mostly positive, very open and a very energizing experience. A lot people came out in the cold of January, not just in Guelph, but around the country, to protest Prime Minister Stephen Harper's decision to prorogue Parliament until March.

I haven't head the exact numbers yet, but all together I think it was safe to say that 150-200 people came down to St. George's Square this afternoon. The goal was to be "boisterous, not belligerent." Although billed as a non-partisan event, the Prime Minister certainly took his lumps as speakers raked him over the coals over Afghan detainees, the economy, and what Trudy from CUPE called Harper's "complete distaste for democratic processes."

The event was emceed by Hugh Whiteley of the Canadian Association of Retired Persons. (So not quite completely the usual suspects as my right-leaning colleague observed in his post.) Other scheduled speakers included George Kelly of the Guelph Coalition for Social Justice and Guelph MP Frank Valeriote. Valeriote said that the subject of making adjustments to how and why Parliament gets prorogued has been a subject of discussion in his party's caucus last week adding that Harper governs through cynicism, and was banking on Canadians' own cynicism and indifference to get away with proroguing the House for the second time in two years.

Representatives of other parties were invited to the mic, specifically Green Party candidate Bob Bell and Conservative candidate Marty Burke. Bell accepted; Burke, it seemed, was not in the proverbial house. "The Prime Minister has found a little loophole through which he continues to jump," said Bell, who added that he was almost happy for the proroguing because it stifles Harper's "misguided" agenda. "He'll have to earn the forgiveness through change of direction because if he doesn't, the wrath of the Canadian people will be on him."

A woman named Bobbi spoke for the NDP since they haven't acclaimed a new candidate in Guelph yet. She said that Jack Layton will be going up to Parliament Hill on Monday to insist that the government be opened for business as usual, and that if Harper opens the House, Layton will offer NDP support for Parliament's winter agenda. Sweet deal, some how I don't think there'll be any takers though.

The rally ended with a decision being rendered from the "Supreme Court of Public Opinion" saying that the court orders the "Managers of Parliament Hill" back to work, and if they refuse, they're remanded to "binding arbitration" with the Chief Electorial Officer of Canada.

After the rally, things moved swiftly to Metcalf Hall in Knox Church on Quebec Street for a panel and perogies. It was standing room only in a hall that I was told by one of Valeriote's staffers had been set up with only 100 chairs. Supplies of perogies were limited because of the numbers, but it still seemed that anyone that wanted a hot Polish pastry was still able to partake. The panel was made up of several influential and well-known community members including Valeriote, disability activist Susan Wheeler, U of G Political Science Prof. Byron Sheldrick, former NDP candidate Phil Alt and Executive Director of the Ignatius Jesuit Centre Jim Profit. They made several points about the need for more tranparency in government and listened to thoughts and concerns by community members.

But at least there was also room for a bit of humour in the day too...


Jerry Prager said...

I just posted this to the Facebook Group.

Anonymous said...

Your numbers are silly. Math not your forte I guess.

Adam A. Donaldson said...

Yes, the front of the Mercury this morning said 300 protestors. So I'm happily wrong in this instance.