MHF and Willowdale Team at CAPP Rally

Last Saturday, Martha and a group of us from Willowdale met up at Yonge-Dundas Square in Toronto along with thousands of other Canadians to protest Stephen Harper's decision to prorogue Parliament. We were there to demonstrate that we care about our democracy, and if necessary are willing to fight for it, as Michael Ignatieff said that same day in Ottawa.

Standing amidst the throngs of people crowding the square, it was hard to make a good estimate of exactly how many people turned out, but as our numbers kept filling the square and eventually spilled out onto the streets, it was clear that Canadians are anything but apathetic about their democracy. People of every age and from every walk of life had shown up because were not happy with the government's actions. Faced with mounting questions over his government's performance on issues such as torture in Afghanistan and the growing deficit, Stephen Harper was counting on the apathy of Canadians to be able to dodge scrutiny and criticism by shutting down Parliament. And clearly, he judged wrongly!

The rally we attended was the creation of Canadians Against Proroguing Parliament, a non-partisan grassroots coalition with a remarkable story. When Stephen Harper revealed quietly on New Year's Eve that he was shutting down Parliament until March, one university student from Alberta made an act of simple but honest protest: he started a Facebook group. Pundits dismissed this as irrelevant, saying no one really cared. But as more and more people joined, and the group passed 100,000, then 200,000 members, the actions of one citizen concerned for his democracy blossomed into a truly coast-to-coast movement uniting Canadians of every sort and sparking rallies across the country, including the one we attended.

One of the greatest privileges of volunteering alongside Martha is listening in as she converses with Canadians about the issues that are important to them--which is so integral to the job of a Member of Parliament. We met lots of people that afternoon who shared how fed up they had been with the decision to prorogue, but how warmed and inspired they had been to see the strength of this movement that had risen up. It was great to meet so many people share their concerns for the fundamentals of democracy, whether on the streets and squares during the event, or afterwards at Milestones and Future Shop!

-Ryan Krahn
*For more photos see the Facebook album.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous28.1.10


    I'd like to bring to your attention that our Politicians should concentrate on meeting the needs of Canadians. We've gone too far out into the world to find charity cases.

    I became a supporter of Covenant House International a few days ago and I spent some time studying it’s Facebook page. Below is one of the YouTubes I found. Click on it twice (sometimes more than twice) and it will take you to the YouTube page with many more YouTubes about Covenant House. One that I watched states that there is about 1.3 million homeless youth in the USA *!* Gasp *!* Gasp *!* Gasp *!*


    Another states that there is 200,000 homeless in Canada *!* Gasp *!* Hard to believe but at least Canada is doing better than the USA.



    This situation deserves Government intervention. I think it’s a good place to spend our tax dollars. It’s time to use those stamps we have stashed away and sit and write those letters to our MPP’s and MP’s insisting on more attention to this matter. We happily take in all the poor souls who wash up on our shores so why does Canada not take care of their own?

    Charity organizations often advertise asking us to do without lunch or that coffee from the coffee shop and donate the money to their cause. I think we’ve all done without enough lunches and coffees from the coffee shop because now we’re surrounded by restaurants and coffee shops that have gone out of business and all their employees have lost their jobs. Some of us do without perfume, flowers, new shoes, belts, socks, even underwear, and ditto for these shops.

    ThisYouTube features “Patrick” from Northern Ireland who went to America for a fresh start. Take a look …


    Boy, this sounds like some operation Covenant House is running in New York City! I wonder how many more kids from Northern Ireland are homeless in New York City? For that matter, just how many kids from the UK went to the USA looking for greener pastures and ended up living in the streets or are barely surviving?

    As a Canadian, I think these kids should be our responsibility and that they should not be relying on the generosity of America. There’s always a price to pay. We take in refugees from Pakistan, Somalia, Sri Lanka, etc., etc., who just get on boats and float over to Canada without even speaking English, without an education and without going through the immigration process. We provide them with food and shelter and all the necessities of life. What about our own from the United Kingdom who have lost their way? Integrating them into our society is easily done and they deserve equal treatment by the Canadian system.

    I know, I know, the current Provincial and Federal Governments cater totally to the wealthy and the University educated, and there’s no denying it. But, with election time just around the corner, and if we make enough of a fuss, we can have them ousted. Let’s bring this to the Government’s attention and insist that the homeless situation be addressed in the Legislatures and that the homeless from the United Kingdom who are somewhere, anywhere in the USA be offered transportation to Canada, from their Covenant Houses to our Covenant Houses until suitable lodgings are located and the proper paperwork filed for welfare.