Notes from North of 49ºN

The above video from YouTube does a decent job of explaining what the big issue in Canada is at the moment, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s proroguing of Parliament. Proroguing? It may seem like a Sarah Palinism, as in “pro-rogue”, but it’s a suspension of Parliament without dissolving it. Harper, a Conservative, prorogued Parliament last year when the other parties were threatening to form a coalition of New Democrats, Liberals, and the Bloc Québécois. This time around, Harper was being asked tough questions by Parliamentary committees about what his government knew about the torture of Afghan detainees after they were turned over to Canadian Forces. On 30 December, the Governor General, upon Harper’s request, prorogued Parliament until 3 March 2010, killing all bills and suspending all committees. The official reason given was the economy, but nobody bought it.

There were two major results::

  1. A grassroots effort using social media mobilized sizeable protests across Canada
  2. The Conservatives have lost ground in the public opinion polls and are in a statistical dead heat with the Liberals

On Facebook, a group for Canadians Against Proroguing Parliament has amassed 219,600 members {28 January} and last Saturday nationwide protests were organized. Here in Toronto, a sizeable crowd assembled downtown::

CAPP Protest 23 January, Yonge St. looking south of Dundas at Eaton Centre

The prorogation of Parliament is viewed by many as anti-democratic {See Rick Mercer’s opinion piece in the Globe & Mail}, although Harper has supporters of his decision. For the time being, anti-Conservative momentum has picked up the pace and support for the Liberals has increased—at the expense of the NDP, Greens, and Bloc.

EKOS Federal Opinion Poll Results:: 4oth. General Election—Mid-January 2010

It’s over a month until Parliament reconvenes. It will be interesting to see if the anti-Conservative sentiments will weather the Winter Olympics in Vancouver and any possible coherent response by Harper. Upon Parliament reconvening, I’m not sure if an election will be triggered. A weakened Harper that’s ready to deal may do more long-term damage to the Conservatives. I’ll be blogging on Rhizomicon within a few days on my detailed analysis of the EKOS poll data, which should make the Liberals a bit cautious about another {expensive} election in the near future.

Twitterversion:: Harper’s proroguing triggered Facebook mobilized protests.EKOS poll:: Grits surging @ expense of Tories,Greens,NDP,& Bloc. @Prof_K