Pushing a stroller in front of him, Liberal MP Justin Trudeau lead the charge at Montreal’s rally against the prorogation of Parliament.
Cities across the country held similar rallies Jan. 23 with a goal of showing Prime Minister Stephen Harper that “Canadians do care about democracy,” as some signs read.
“Contrary to what Mr. Harper thinks Canadians don’t just care about the economy,” said Marc Garneau, Liberal MP for Westmount8212;Ville-Marie, while addressing a crowd of about 300 people at Phillips Square downtown. “They also care about their democracy. They care enough to come out,” he said, “and tell Mr. Harper that we will not let this happen again.”
Garneau, pointing out the crowd included sovereigntists, federalists, New Democrats, Liberals, and possibly “even a couple of Conservatives,” said the demonstration had little to do with affiliations to political parties. “We want our representatives to go out into Parliament and disagree with one another, argue with one another. We want them to do our work in Parliament.”
The nation-wide rallies were held in response to Harper’s announcement in December that Parliament was going to be suspended. Scheduled to resume Jan. 25 following the holidays, the House of Commons will now resume with a Speech from the Throne March 3.
Montreal’s rally began at Parc Ã‰milie-Gamelin near Berri St. and Ste. Catherine St., ending at Phillips Square.
There, several members of opposition parties such as Bloc leader Gilles Duceppe, Trudeau and Thomas Mulclair, NDP MP for the riding of Outremont, were joined by members of the public to show they don’t agree with Harper’s decision to suspend Parliament.
“Harper is taking an eight-week vacation,” said Daniel Vaudrin, an IT coordinator who took part in the rally. “It’s not like there is no work to be done.”
Accusing Harper of avoiding serious national issues, Duceppe called Harper a coward. “Harper put a lock on Parliament because he does not want to answer questions about Afghanistan,” he said, referring to the allegations involving the treatment of Afghan detainees.
Some people have credited the turnout at the rallies across Canada to social networking sites and the blogosphere. Political blogger C.K. Twight said she heard about the protest through Facebook. When she saw that the group was growing, she said she knew a large crowd was going to come out and voice their opinion.
With signs and posters in hand, hundreds of disgruntled Montrealers gathered and chanted, “Harper is the minority, we are the majority!”
Some posters held by those in attendance bore the face of Duceppe and some also read “Parliament belongs to us not Harper.”
Addressing the crowd, NDP Mulcair said, “Let’s change the rules so there will be no more prorogation. Our presence is a message to Stephen Harper.”