I’ve been waiting for so long for Canadians to wake up, pay attention, get pissed off, get politicized and boot Harper’s tush out of Ottawa. For what now seems like a very brief time in December of 2008 Canadians did wake up but the lack of leadership, primarily in the Liberal Party, and ignorance about the meaning of a coalition between the Liberals, New Democrats and the Bloc Quebecois took the wind out of the sails all too soon.
Since then I’ve been watching and waiting. Not entirely passively. I watch the news, the blogs, the independent web reporting sites, the mags, online and off. I’ve alerted people to good material and hoped they read it. I expressed my outrage on Twitter, Facebook and occasionally on this blog. I wrote letters to newspapers, MPs, opposition leaders and the PM. But mostly I waited. Many of us waited. Sometimes I lost hope that anyone in this country was ever going to care. Care about the war on Gaza and Canada’s blind support of Israel. Care about Canada’s part in the war in Afghanistan. Care about the growing number of Canadians locked up in prisons for stupid reasons. Care about the arrogance and autocracy of Stephen Harper and his effect on our democratic institutions. Care about people like Omar Khader, Hassan Almrei, Suaad Hagi Mohamud, Abousfian Abdelrazik and others whose names and skin colour were not kindred to Stephen Harper. Care about the introduction of a mandatory minimum sentences bill that would put more Canadians in prison for more stupid reasons and the possible abolition of Canada’s long gun registry that actually seems to be making a difference in preventing or responding effectively to violence against women in domestic situations, the funding of the Status of Women, pay equity, the Court Challenges Programme . . . well, much more than all that believe it or not, but for now and most recently, the treatment of Canada’s Afghan detainees.
So many people lost faith that Canadians were ever going to care that when it began to appear that the frozen giant had awoken from its long slumber, when rumblings of revolt were heard on Facebook in the group Canadians Against Proroguing Parliament – well, many were afraid to believe it. I wasn’t one of them. I don’t know why. But my intuition is that I spend so much time on the web reading, listening, learning, chatting and “networking” that I felt the pulse right away. If you’re not there you don’t know, you don’t feel it, you can’t see it. I was a member of that group early on and I sent links to the group to everyone I knew. I tweeted about the group over and over. I spread the news in other groups. I believed it was going to go. And it did. Lots of other people believed it too or it wouldn’t have happened.
What’s the difference between last year’s momentary excitement about the possibility of a coalition government that could topple the Conservatives and this year’s moment? Last year we were dependent upon the potential parties to the coalition to keep it going when Harper prorogued. The moment was easily brought to an end through a combination of Harper’s willingness to impose his will on Parliament and the country and the appalling and depressing weakness of the opposition. This year, Harper’s still there, behaving like an autocrat; the opposition has gained no strength. But the success of the awakening depends upon the people participating. Stephen Harper can’t shut it down. The opposition parties are barely able to respond well never mind take leadership roles in the movement. Its success depends solely upon the will of the people involved.
That might well be the only way it was ever going to work. Pass it on.