Canadians have been anything but quiet since Prime Minister Stephen Harper, once again, requested that Parliament be suspended.
Some voices have defended the Conservative leader’s actions, arguing it is the right of the county’s leader to prorogue Parliament, a right that has been exercised by many former prime ministers.
But since Dec. 30, when Harper asked the Governor General 8212; for the second time in a little over a year 8212; to suspend Parliament, there has also been a tidal wave of backlash.
A contingent of anti-prorogation Canadians has convened through a Facebook group called Canadians Against Proroguing Parliament which, as of Monday evening, boasted over 158,000 members.
The group’s mission states that Harper is “forsaking his responsibility to be accountable to his employers, us Canadians citizens.”
Prorogation 8212; or suspension 8212; of Parliament has its roots in the British system, said former graduate coordinator for the Department of History at McGill University Bobby Ansari. And the public didn’t take it any better back then.
“When King Charles I of England dissolved Parliament in 1628 people took to the street in protest,” she said.
Riding the wave of prorogation dissenters, Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff has asked his party’s members of Parliament to return to Ottawa on Jan. 25, the day the House of Commons was originally set to reconvene.
“Because of the huge response to the Facebook group, the Liberal Party has jumped on it as a way to promote their campaign,” Ansari said. “They have been putting radio and print ads up, using the Facebook group as a platform for their campaign.”
Ansari said she takes issue with the fact that, throughout the duration of the prorogation, Canadians will lose their representation in Parliament.
“For example, there will be no one in Parliament to stand up for the protesters at the Olympics in Vancouver,” she said. “If you’re a protester and get arrested in Vancouver during the Olympics you won’t be able to contact your MP until after Parliament resumes.”
Some members of the Facebook group have described Harper’s request to prorogue as an insult to Canadians.
In a post on a discussion board, Richard Wierzbicki wrote, “This prorogue of the house is the PM’s way of saying he has no respect for Canada or it’s institutions.”
Another group member, Nona MacDermid, speculated on how Canadians might react if Harper ever fails to be re-elected as Prime Minister. “[Look at] the global euphoria when Obama took office – there were celebrations in places around the world. I think we are going to have some pretty happy people partying in the streets when Mr. Harper gets his permanent prorogation from politics.”