Nationwide protests will push for parliament to resume as scheduled on Jan. 25. Rallies are scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 23, in every province and territory except Nunavut. Over 40 Canadian communities, including ones in New York and London, are planning rallies. The protests are organized through the Canadians Against Proroguing Parliament group on Facebook, which at press time has over 185,000 members.
Many details for the Toronto rally, set for Dundas Square, have yet to be confirmed. The first planning meeting took place at Hart House last Friday, but had to move because of overcapacity.
“We want to encourage the MPs to go back to work on the 25th no matter what Harper wants,” said Justin Arjoon, a Botany student at U of T and central rally coordinator for Toronto.
Despite interest from MPs like Bob Rae, the Toronto planning committee will not allow Members of Parliament to speak at the rally. “We don’t want the MPs using our platform in order to campaign for their party. We want to keep this nonpartisan,” he said.
“They can attend the rally, they can watch us on TV. Just because they’re not speaking doesn���t mean they can’t hear us.”
Shilo Davis, national rally coordinator and McMaster student, is skeptical of the rallies’ ability to influence Harper.
“I don’t see them going back, to be completely honest, based on the response so far. [But] at the very least we want our government to know that we aren’t happy, and that it’s more than just a Facebook movement,” said Davis. “It is regular Canadians who are behind this.”
More information can be found at noprorogue.ca
A protest planned through Facebook flopped on Tuesday, Jan. 11. The group Ontario College Students Against A Strike was started by Humber College student Graeme McNaughton to protest a potential province-wide college strike. The protest was to precede Wednesday’s vote by the Ontario Public Services Employees Union on whether to strike. OPSEU represents over 9,000
teachers, counsellors, and librarians at more than 24 college faculties across Ontario.
Of the 22,000 members that joined the Facebook group, 4,000 signed the online petition, and 356 students—representing over 11 schools—promised to walk out of their classes in protest. McNaughton said he had also found student volunteers to lead walkouts at these schools.
According to the Toronto Star, the number of protestors never exceeded 20, prompting the paper to dub the incident as the latest example of Facebook “slacktivism,” where online membership counts did not translate into support on the ground.—Alex Ross