Anti-Protest Protest

This isn’t going to be a popular post, but so many people have written triumphant posts about the anti-prorogation rally on the weekend, that I thought I’d talk about why I didn’t go.

 I have many of the same issues with protests as I do with strikes. And before I go on, I want to be clear that I’m just speaking from the viewpoint of someone in 21st century Canada. I know there are long lists of causes in other countries and in our own country, in other times, that were moved forward through public demonstration.

When people have very little legal recourse or when there is a severe and direct threat to individual freedoms;  demonstrations (peaceful or even violent) are the only way to go. None of the conditions that would legitimize or necessitate public demonstrations exist in Canada today. Protest is a tool that blunts with misuse and overuse.

What was the intended outcome of this protest on Saturday?  To change public opinion?   To force the Prime Minister to change his mind? To send the Prime Minister a message that “Canadians” aren’t as apathetic as he thinks they are?  Has any of this been achieved?

If we hope to persuade anyone of anything in a civilized society we need to use reasoned discussion and a well-crafted argument. Clever signs, witty songs and general outrage are not persuasive. They might be fun and they definitely generate excitement among the demonstrators and in the media, but they don’t persuade anyone of anything.

The people at whom this type of protest is aimed do not care about these things. They can not. Stephen Harper has protesters on his doorstep every day of the week in lesser or greater numbers. He doesn’t formulate policies or decisions based on what the mob-of-the-day is demanding. Yes, he’s slipped a bit in the polls because of media attention the protests and the Facebook group have generated;  but he also soared in the polls after he played the piano and sang a song in public. The general populace has a very short memory. And, when it comes time to vote, Harper is betting Canadians are not going to use this little break from Parliament against him.

While it looks great that thousands of people across the country came out to demonstrate on Saturday, it doesn’t necessarily translate into anything significant come election time.

Strength in numbers, in a case like this, isn’t real strength. Just because something is popular today doesn’t mean it’s right or good in the long run.  Eleanor Roosevelt said: what is popular is not always right, and what is right is not always popular.

Demonstrations continue all over America in opposition to same sex marriage.  Pro-life groups protest outside of abortion clinics all the time. Every time someone commits a particularly heinous crime, protesters gather and call for the reinstatement of capital punishment. It would be very wrong of our leaders to make decisions based on the size or volume of groups of protesters. If 3500 pro-lifers showed up on Parliament Hill next weekend, you would be upset if the Prime Minister were to second-guess abortion legislation over their protest. 

I’m not saying that Harper was right to prorogue parliament — though I am a bit curious as to why this particular issue is causing so much outrage when he’s done so many more outrageous things both before and since his re-election.  I am saying that just because a lot of people turned out for Saturday’s demonstrations doesn’t automatically make Harper wrong. Nor does it convince him, or anyone else, that he is wrong.

In fact, it may do just the opposite. Middle-of-the-road people tend to stereotype political protesters as “crackpot activists” (see PETA). So, a viewpoint taken up by these so-called “crackpot activists” might convince middle-of-the-road Canadians to take up the opposing viewpoint in order to disassociate themselves from the “crackpot” element. (And no, I’m not personally calling anyone who attended a demonstration on Saturday a crack-pot)

In 21st century Canada there are so many more effective ways to express outrage and so many better ways to attempt to promote change. We can, for instance,  use television, the Internet, newspapers, magazines, the legal system and/or letter writing to get our point across. All of these are more effective than standing in the cold with cardboard effigies.

As an example, writing letters to your politicians – rational, reasoned letters asking specific questions – guarantees that those letters will be read and responded to. Every letter that comes in with specific questions will be read by someone. If there are one or more specific questions in that letter, it will get passed on to the correspondence unit, who will then have to craft a response. The response and the original letter will get passed up the line for review, edits, input and a series of signatures, including sign-off by the person to whom you wrote the initial question.

All this costs politicians time, money and human resources. These things force them to pay attention. If they get enough letters about the same topic they can’t ignore that topic. They can ignore a protest rally. And they do.

There are many countries in the world where protests are the only recourse to injustice; where protests are a necessary medium for the voice of the people. Canada isn’t one of them.

Though there was a lot of talk about the undermining of “democracy” at the rally on Saturday, Canada, in fact, has a well-established democracy. Even Stephen Harper with all his games cannot threaten it. And we, the people of Canada, have many mechanisms for input into that democratic system and should make full use of them.

Though I’m quite sure that many of the people at Saturday’s protest were sincere and well-meaning people, their actions are seen as easily shrugged-off theatrics by those being protested against. Leaders cannot rule by angry mob. And, protests can have the opposite of their intended effect on the population at large.

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PS: For the record, I have never voted Conservative and never will. To me, right now, the most effective way to get Harper out of power is to support and work toward offering a strong and viable alternative at the next election. Because as long as there are no really good options…guess what…

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33 responses to “Anti-Protest Protest

  1. I didn’t even know about this until today when my son mentioned it. I don’t read or watch the news.

    I have no problem with protests.
    I do however have a problem with political parties threatening to take down the government when the Olympics are being held here.

    For the most part I wonder who changes the politicians diapers and feeds them their bottles when they aren’t in Parliament..

  2. I have no idea what is going on but I would never vote Conservative either. I am out of touch. Has Harper been good for Canada? I know that Canada’s international reputation has been tarnished by some of his government’s positions at international meetings.

  3. Would like to disagree there. I think every country needs its crackpots to remind us of stuff we are apathetic to. At least a few of the people who aren’t politicians might think about the issue. As for letters to politicians isn’t it like sending the bull the bible or communist manifesto?

  4. My Mom worked for the Feds, and often had to deal with letters from the public. She had great stories to tell.

    Each and every letter, whether perfectly valid, or totally stupid, has to go through the same screening process. It requires multiple checks and all kinds of signature. It costs hundreds of dollars of man-hours to deal with each one.

    Some letters were just plain ignorant. Like someone asking about the collapse of Atlantic Cod Fishery Collapse in….BC! (Good Lord). Instead screening letters like this, and having an admin write a quick response…they had go through the whole process, all the way through upper management.

    Not to mention, some people deliberately abuse the system. They’d click-click-click, and email the same letter, over and over. And the bureaucracy dictates that the email would have to be dealt with EACH time. Thus grinding the system to a halt.

    Our tax dollars at work, folks.

  5. When I see protesters in Canada I’m always reminded of a poverty protest that a colleague and I were watching from our office windows one afternoon. She said, “Look at them. Protesting poverty in their Patagonia jackets”. It always struck me as strange.

  6. Do I understand that because protest do not cause immediate change we shouldn’t hold them? Pro-life movement is (sadly) working. Their extremism has caused many qualified doctors to refuse to do abortions (yes, here in Canada.) There was a time last summer when you had to wait at six weeks to get an abortion here in Ottawa. Direct cause and effect (not a good one in my book.)

    Tamils held a protest that raised awareness of their plight, effectively shutting down the core of the City. We may not agree with their politics but we know… we know… Awareness is something and the issue was discussed by Parliament.

    When 25,000 Canadians get off their couches to protest and poll numbers are slipping you better believe an image conscious Stephen Harper notices. Trust me, that’s a lot of people getting outside in winter… he may not change his mind (I’m not sure he can).

    Why do Canadians care about prorogation? Because it was done for political reasons. Because we are a country at war in the midst of an economic crisis… and as I said in my post, I didn’t elect Stephen Harper — I elected an MP to represent me in the House of Commons. Right now, Stephen is running the show solo and I don’t like it.

    But just because it may not cause immediate change doesn’t mean we should stop voicing our concerns. It’s our right, and our duty.

  7. “If we hope to persuade anyone of anything in a civilized society we need to use reasoned discussion and a well-crafted argument. Clever signs, witty songs and general outrage are not persuasive. They might be fun and they definitely generate excitement among the demonstrators and in the media, but they don’t persuade anyone of anything.”

    I suppose this is how Stevie got elected twice. Reasoned discussion and well crafted argument.
    Time to wake up!
    Elections are swayed by slick pr programmes that use all the same methods used in sales everywhere. While I agree that protests of and by themselves won’t cause the change they are an effective way to mobilize masses of people to carry the process further.
    Or perhaps you think a well worded essay published somewhere in our profit driven media will galvanize the population.

  8. I think these protests could well effect change. If people hadn’t come out in such high numbers, then I think the proroguing of the government would have faded from the collective memory as you say. However, because the public was so vocal on this issue, the Opposition now has a reason to topple the government and may have the backing of the Canadian public. Instead of the electorate not wanting an expensive election, they may now back change. I really think Canadians don’t like arrogant politicians, and Harper has truly shown his arrogance, and what he could be capable of if he ever gets a majority.

    I hope the Opposition can get their acts together to mount an effective campaign though. That part could be a bit of a problem.

  9. *Knowing* what’s going on out there is just as — no, *more* — important than voting to vote or protesting to protest. And you obviously do. Know what’s going on out there.

    Nicely written; well done.

  10. Glen – A lot of us have a problem with Parliament shutting down right now. It affects all federal government departments as well since everything is put on hold that requires ministerial approvals – which is almost everything these days.

    LGS – Well, no I don’t think he’s been good for Canada. As a friend remarked this morning, he’s only been able to stay in power because there is no one else. What you see on the international stage is pretty much what we see internally, too. We need a strong liberal leader. Please send help.

    Ramble – I don’t get the bull/manifesto analogy, but letters are pretty effective, as Friar says, too. They also have to be kept, stored and archived.

    Friar – I’ve been in your mom’s shoes. There are a lot of crazy letters, but that makes the articulate, intelligent ones stand out all the more. And the very fact that it costs so much to process these letters makes them a valuable tool

    Meanie – Yes. We’re a free democratic country with all sorts of options for effecting political change open to us. Which kind of negates the whole purpose of political protest.

    Stefania – I know people mean well when they stage protests like this, but like you, I find it weakens the whole concept of political/social protest. There is a huge difference between protesting just because you can and protesting because you have to – because you have no other choice.

    Nat – The pro-life movement’s advances have come about through a lot of behind the scenes lobbying – not because of demonstrations or beating women up in front of abortion clinics. And I agree absolutely we should keep voicing our concerns and we have many avenues open to us to do that effectively. I just think protest weakens our position and the tool of protest in general. Sure, there were 25,000 Canadians out in the cold on Saturday, but there were 34 million who weren’t there. I’d bet none of those 25,000 were ever Harper supporters anyway. One of the other issues with protests is they look so great and get a lot of attention, especially when the numbers are big that too many people figure they’ve done something phenomenal for democracy by participating. And then go home and wait for the changes to roll in. And then they don’t.

    Dave – Harper keeps getting elected because he has no opposition. If we had an election tomorrow, even after this “massive mobilization” of people, he’d get re-elected. If we want to do something really effective we’d mobilize to get ourselves a really strong liberal leader — someone who actually has a chance of defeating the Tories

    Finola – Proroguing the government will fade from people’s memories just like everything else Harper has done. This was a media splash for one morning. It was a big thing for those involved, but just another news story for the majority of Canadians. Trudeau was a very arrogant politician, too and was protested against almost continually. But he had a good long run. And as you indicated, we may all want change, but if we have no options we’re stuck with what we have now.

    Ellie – Thanks.

  11. As for this latest protest…

    Whatever.

    Because how come nobody seems to remember how the Liberals under Chretien also prorogued parliament several times? (For equally selfish/political reasons, I might add?)

    Where were these protesters back THEN?

    As far as I”m concerned, if this is the worst thing we have to complain about right now, I think we have it pretty damned good.

    God Forbid should we ever have REAL problems, like our grandparents who had to fight the Nazis. Or like the Haitians.

    Good Lord, how would we survive?

  12. Exercising my democratic rights is something I do way more than once every four years. It includes voting, writing letters and attending demonstrations. Like Nat, I see protest as not just a right, but as an act of responsible citizenship. Patriotism, even.

    Stephen Harper may not immediately change his mind or anything else as a result of 27,000 people protesting on January 23, but you can be absolutely certain he was paying attention and concerned by the numbers. The message – that Canadians DO care – was sent and received. What he does with it is up to him, but if he ignores it it will be at his own political peril.

  13. My own view is that we serve ourselves best by taking the time to inform ourselves of what our representatives are actually doing on our behalf and understanding the rationale or motivation behind their judgments. We also let them know in great numbers when we agree or disagree, and why. Of course, this assumes we take a more visible interest in the selection of people we choose to represent us. If we abdicate this right, and allow others to makes decisions for us, then we have to live with those decisions. Or view this as a wake-up call to get actively involved. Bringing an issue to the public’s attention via a protest is fine; but done without continued effort to ensure corrective behaviour it’s mostly seen as an isolated shout into the wind. My two cents.

  14. Prorogation brings to an end nearly all parliamentary business. How can any intelligent, caring, leader shut down government at a time when the country is suffering through what has been called the “worst financial crisis since the Great depression”. Not to mention the fact that we are AT WAR! Yes folks, we are at war and do not have a functioning government. I mean think about it. We have our soldiers fighting for democracy and freedom in another country while here in Canada we have elected officials who cannot do the work of the people/country because the leader of the day chooses to shut down government. Any MP Committees that were sitting have ceased functioning. That includes the committee reviewing the treatment of Afghan detainees. Any bills that were introduced but did not receive Royal Assent (final stage) really no longer exist and must go back to be reintroduced.
    On the other hand, perhaps this will give them time to reflect on Bill C-23 and realize how bad it really would be for Canada. Perhaps that’s a blog discussion for another day.

  15. But at least you don’t have to hide your head in shame at Canadian protestors. American protestors, in their haste to put together a sign, come up with some impressive typos. The protest signs just make us look stupid rather than enthusiastic.

    “Save our skools!”
    “Get a brain, morans!”
    and my favorite, “No pubic option!”

  16. “And, when it comes time to vote, Harper is betting Canadians are not going to use this little break from Parliament against him.”

    Well if they don’t, then I certainly hope they use the Afghan torture issue and his poor performance at the Copenhagen Climate Change conference against him.

  17. Just because Parliament doesn’t run, doesn’t mean the Govt. isn’t functioning.

    (I mean..what do people think happens to the country during the Christmas Break, or during the entire summer?)

    As it stands, right now, there are lots of decidated Civil Servants, putting in 12-14 hour days to help out with Haiti. And a lot of them are on salary, and they’re not getting any extra money.

    All those troops and planes and food we’re sending over? You don’t just suddenly do that overnight. It takes a lot of planning and paperwork to get the logistics right.

    And it’s getting done in record time, thanks to our Govt.

    Funny, that’s happening under the Harper Govt. too…but nobody seems to want to mention it.

    No, we’d rather just bitch about Big Bad Stephen. Who apparently eats babies and makes Little Jesus cry.

    It’s not that I agree with everything Harper does.

    But I wish that when the Liberals and NDP’s screw up…they get subjected to the same ammount of criticism.

    Argh. Sorry for getting grumpy. Just that I get tired of all these double-standards.

    This is why I try to stay away from politics. (Though I’m not always succesful).

  18. Friar – Maybe this protest over the prorogue is one of those “straws that broke the camel’s back” kind of things?

    Zoom – I hope you’re right. I fear, however, that he is in no immediate danger as long as he has no real competition for his job.

    Anon – Thank you. I would hope, that like Zoom, the people protesting on Saturday see this as only one small part of a whole range of activities in exercising their rights to oppose the current leadership – and not as an isolated thing.

    Salayna – I don’t know exactly why Harper chose to prorogue at this time. It’s obviously not the worst thing he’s ever done and he’s certainly not the first PM to do it.

    Amy – I don’t think ya’ll have the market cornered on ignorance – never fear.

    Pauline – Like I said to Zoom, I hope you’re right. We really need to concentrate on finding a worthy leader for the liberals though if we hope to ever get rid of Harper.

    Friar – Grump away. I don’t think anyone is disagreeing that things are still getting done. I think people are miffed that there were some important issues before Parliament that the public will now have to wait to have resolved until after Parliament resumes.

  19. I’m with you on the photo op protests – and I am sure that the party in power categorizes all of them as wild eyed radicals whose opinions are too tainted to matter. I still think Chretien’s choke hold on one high profile protester is the best example of how the genre is regarded.
    Writing letters is not much better. I belong to a group that writes rational, questioning letters to various levels of government. Mostly we don’t get replies; if we do, they are pablum for baby.
    Yes, we need a viable alternative and we for sure don’t have one.
    I am troubled by the prorogation thing because it seems to me a symptom of government by PMO. Parliament is messy and sometimes stupid, but it is sure better than oligarchy …. I do not want someone with Harper’s disregard for discussion in charge of anything.
    So, how do we pan the best of the Liberals, NDP and Greens and come up with a sensible, middle of the road, policy making government? Damned if I know. We may be damned.

  20. Okay…I know I should probably let it go, but sorry…I’m getting TIRED of all these one sided-arguments.

    For all the smug Conservative-bashers out there,
    I’d just like to point out that it’s just not just the Harper Govt. that pulls these kind of stunts. Just read the papers…!

    “….Jean Chrétien was not criticized for proroguing to avoid having to receive Sheila Fraser’s report on the sponsorship scandal. Conservatives also say that many of today’s critics actually respected him for his wiliness; some even cheered Mr. Chrétien’s toughness in shutting down the Somalia inquiry, which was investigating a far more serious matter than Afghan detainees.”

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/blogs/spector-vision/prorogation-jean-chrtien-did-it-too/article1425333/

    I’m not defending Harper.

    I’m just sayin’…..the other parties havent’ exactly been stellar examples of leadership, either.

  21. Protests, while of questionable import in the short run, can have a cumulative effect.
    Think of the protests in Eastern Bloc nations prior to 1989.
    Think of the public outrage and protests over apartheid – protests that most definitely helped bring about sanctions which in turn helped to end that system of injustice.
    Think about the protests in the 1960’s that helped to bring about Equal Rights, the end of the war in Viet Nam and the downfall of Nixon.
    No, I’m not equating those movements to the anti-prorogation bunch.
    And yes, protests are often hijacked by wackos – the anarchists, the fringe groupos, etc.
    But in the long run, with a clear and consistent message, I hold that protests are a valuable tool for social chanage and that they can work… even if only to bring into the public eye a particular issue or problem.
    And no, Harper’s government won’t fall on the anti-prorogation protests, but they may be weakened just a little bit. And that weakening combined with other factors? Well, it may be just enough to bring about change.
    In any case, seeing Canadians getting up in arms about ANYTHING is a positive move in my ever so humble opinion…

  22. I agree with most of your stand on this.
    If organizers of the anti-prorogation rally (which, by the way, grew out of a facebook group) think the cause gained more attention because of the rally, I ask them why on a Saturday, when media attention and TV viewing, etc. is lower than during the week.
    Rallies and other demonstrations serve to vent your displeasure, by if you think they actually cause change, you probably just had tea with a little girl named Alice and a mad man with a big hat.
    For that same reason, I refuse to sign online petitions and join those facebook groups. They are exercises in futility.
    However, as a reporter and TV news producer, I do like rallies and demonstrations, because they do make good TV and provide a balancing viewpoint to the usual political doublespeak. That does NOT make them effective.

  23. Glen – Really? The Olympics is your big political concern? Not the war we are fighting, or the economy? Not the fact that Canadians are fighting in the name of freedom just to have people tortured? But the Olympics? Heaven forbid someone distract you from your hockey.

    Friar – I thing the reason Chrétien is because no one called him on it. Or maybe he didn’t seem to make a habit of it. I don’t really know. I’d never even hear of prorogation until Harper did it to stop his government from falling. But it’s really irrelevant. Harper shuts down parliament and when he does he manages to look like he’s doing it for his own political gain.

    Newsguy Bob – Why on Saturday? People have jobs that’s why. And as for Facebook protest begin useless, I think this whole movement proves otherwise. I think the fact that it got so much attention is all you can really hope for from a protest.

    Protest aren’t about sweeping change. It’s about showing people that you are upset about something. Hopefully it will be something that others will get upset about too. If you can put it into enough peoples minds, come election day maybe something will change. Or maybe the Government goes, “Crap, a bunch of people are actually paying attention. Maybe I shouldn’t try that again”

    Will it actually make a difference this time? No probably not. Maybe a really small one. Probably won’t cost him his minority government.

  24. It’s not enough just to care about an issue. We need to put our convictions to action… belief without works is dead, to paraphrase some holy dude or another.

    I was still angry after I wrote and posted the letters, so I joined a few thousand similar-minded citizens on Saturday. Did I think I would change anything by being there? Well, honestly, no. However, there was something balming about expressing outrage en masse and publicly, and, strangely, something intensely patriotic about it. Regardless of whether it actually *did* anything in the long run, I was glad I went.

    PS: I never voted that guy in in the first place, and when it comes to election time, I’ll express my outrage all over again with a small check-mark beside some name that isn’t his.

    PSS: Your post almost sounds like a call to apathy, letter-writing aside. Should we (as a nation) stop protesting altogether because it doesn’t bring about immediate, quantifiable results?

  25. Mary – Yes, the responses you get to letters are useless, but the fact that they generate a lot of work in the office to which you are sending them, makes them effective. Studies (and I wish I could find a reference for you) found that letter writing was one of the most effective ways to get the attention of politicians and help promote change – head and shoulders above demonstrations or petitions for instance. So keep writing. As for how to help get a better leader, join the liberal party – they’re the only ones with a chance to win; campaign for a leadership convention; help them find someone who isn’t a tool; help them to win. For starters

    Friar – Blood pressure! Blood pressure! Like I said before, people complained a hell of a lot about Trudeau, too and Cretien. The thing is, Harper is the guy in power right now and so in the hot seat. Also, I think maybe the right-wing in Canada exerts all their power behind the scenes, so they don’t have to do FB groups or protests.

    Trashy – I did say that protests are and have been useful when there no other alternatives – when there are human rights, freedoms, etc. on the line. I don’t dispute that at all. I do dispute that with protests of all sorts on Parliament Hill every day; this one, even with the “impressive” numbers isn’t really on the radar screen. And I object to the idea that gathering together in a big group and shouting loudly and waving signs is a valid way to promote political change. It reminds me of my daughter, when she asks to go to a party and the thing she uses to try to convince me to let her go is “all my friends are going” – as if, just because “all” those other people think it’s okay means I should make up my mind accordingly. Nobody can make rational decisions like that.

    Bob – Now, I’m a little worried. You’re agreeing with me? I’m obviously wrong…so very, very wrong. But it’s interesting to get and insider’s perspective. Thanks.

    MG – I think Glen might have been trying to be sarcastic about that Olympic thing…I’m not sure. I hope he can clear that up. Also, re: protests – someone is always upset about something. There are literally protests on the Hill almost on a daily basis. Am I going to get upset about whatever they’re upset about just because they’re marching around declaring their upset? Not a chance in hell. And I think we should be very, very scared of any government that flip flops on their positions depending on how many people are waving placards. Sure, this protest looked very impressive in the media, but we’re talking 25,000 (ish) people across the entire country. And for what it was, it was an impressive collection – but like I said earlier, there were also 34 million people across the country who weren’t there. Is the government going to worry about 25,000 people who never voted for them and never will and change anything?

    Susan – I can totally see how it would have been an uplifting experience to join such a large group. And no, I’m not calling for apathy. We should all be doing whatever we can to participate in government all the time and I really hope that everyone there keeps fighting the good fight through other means as well. I just don’t like the entire idea of mobbing together and shouting slogans for any cause. To me it weakens the position being fought for – like strikes. I don’t think we need this sort of primitive mob strength thing to move a cause forward. And in our culture today, I think it benefits no one and nothing except the people involved – like you said. It makes them feel good. And that’s the most honest and most valid response I’ve heard.

  26. I don’t really give a shit who runs the country, as long as they stop selling parts of it to other countries to line their pockets and make their buddies rich with what *we* built.

    I didn’t vote for this government, and I didn’t vote for the last one either. As far as I’m concerned, they’re all a bunch of short-sighted sociopathic morons, I don’t care how many law degrees they have. You can buy a law degree, you know.

    Canadian politics is reminding me a lot of American politics – and I mean no offense to any US readers here, but there are very few differences in my mind between the parties.

    Gore Vidal said what I want to say best in 2003:

    “We have no political parties. We’ve never had much of them –I mean the Democrats, the Republicans. We have one party –we have the party of essentially corporate America. It has two right wings, one called Democratic, one called Republican.”

    Substitute “Canada” for “America”, “Conservative” for “Democrat”, and “Liberal” for “Republican”, and you get the idea…

    Next time, I’m voting for the Marijuana Party. At least they know how to have a good time, and they aren’t a bunch of uptight dickwads.

  27. XUP, I agree with you on protests to a point. They can be an important demonstration of public concern, but sometimes it seems that people think they can go stand in front of Parliament Hill and scream for “someone” to “do something” and that should be the end of it. The number of people I’ve talked to who are proud to say they went on the latest march but then turn around and say they never vote, would never campaign for a candidate, etc. astounds me.

    I agree that writing letters is an effective tool. So is filing ATIP requests and publicizing the documents that are–or are not–released.

    I don’t understand the reasoning behind giving Harper a pass on the prorogation just because the Liberals did the same thing in the past. It was a misuse of the system then, too. The thing is, we can’t change the past, but we can change the present and influence the future.

  28. Brett – Short-sightedness is the very thing that bothers me most about politicians. They only get involved in things that will bring them immediate kudos — nevermind the long term good of the country/province/city

    Lester – Whatever other politicians did in the past is kind of irrelevant at the moment since THIS is the politician we’re stuck with right now.

    Zoom – Frightening isn’t it? Thanks for the link.

  29. I started life as a Liberal (I was stuffing campaign material in mailboxes as soon as I could reach them because my grandfather and father were ‘back room boys’ in Paul Martin Senior’s mafia.) I stayed Liberal until Trudeau walked away. Became more and more disenchanted and became merely liberal. As I understand things, the old Liberal machine is barely functioning and the party is pretty polarized. When it took in Bob Rae, I almost, almost turned blue.
    What frightens me the most is the weary and cynical gaze most people turn on any politician. It used to be an honourable profession.
    I get my fun these days listening to Obama.

  30. Mary – Plenty of cynical gazes are being directed at Obama, too. But I totally know what you mean about how politicians seem to have changed in such a short time. There’s no one with any real vision anymore — just PR machines