By Fiona McMurran
Niagara area residents joined more than 10,000 Canadians in Ottawa and Toronto along with thousands of others in towns and cities across the country this Jan. 23 to protest Prime Minister’s Stephen Harper’s Conservative government’s continued proroguing of parliament.
Those who gathered in front of the constituency office of Conservative MP Rick Dykstra in St. Catharines – more than 50 in all – and sites across Canada demanded that the proroguing of parliament be ended and that our MPs get back to work.
Sporting signs reading; “Wanted – Stephen Harper, For Crimes Against Democracy,” “Don’t Run Away From Democracy” and “Honk For Democracy,” those who rallied in St. Catharines were angered by Dykstra’s recent comment that his constituents and those of other MPs across the country don’t care about the fact that the government he’s a member of has prorogued the business of parliament until the first week of March.
The gathering cheered as individuals came up to speak, including Kayle Hatt, a representative of NDP Youth, who led off with a list of the 37 bills abandoned because of the prorogation which (if Harper sticks to his guns) will not see our elected representatives at the federal level get back to work until the first week of March. He was followed by Bruce Allen, Vice-President of CAW Local 199, who called on Niagara residents to keep up the fight to be heard. Wayne Gates, President of CAW Local 199, waxed eloquent on the disconnect between the “vacationing” MPs and the many Canadians hard-hit by the recession, who are basically being ignored by the federal Tories.
Gates talked about the important changes to EI (unemployment insurance benefits), intended to help many of those out of work – people who are are now in limbo because parliament will not resume on Monday, as it should. The writer of this story and Ron Boyer spoke for their respective Chapters of the Council of Canadians, calling on Niagara residents to show their opposition to the ever-growing democratic deficit in the country.
The rally was called by Bryan Levesque, one of several Brock University students who attended. Levesque was pleased with the turnout, especially since the event was announced only two days before. Many other Niagara residents will be joining the protest in Gage Park in Hamilton, he said
The rally drew honks of approval from drivers passing by. Pedestrians also stopped to engage protesters in discussions and several thanked them for speaking out on their behalf.News of the St. Catharines rally was spread via Facebook, following on the overwhelming success of the Facebook site, Canadians Against the Prorogation of Parliament, which to date has over 211,000 members.
(Fiona McMurran is chairwoman of the South Niagara Chapter of the Council of Canadians)(If you are a subscriber to Niagara At Large and received this post in a separate interview, please support Niagara At Large by taking a few extra moments to visit the site at www.niagaraatlarge.com for more news and commentary. Thank You.)