2010-01-23 at 16:32
Emil Potvin props up his poster at the Canadians Against Proroguing Parliament protest rally at the Lakehead Labour Centre on Saturday.
Rodney Brown plays to the crowd at the Canadians Against Proroguing Parliament rally on Saturday.
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Protesters at a weekend rally say they want perogies, not prorogation.
The Facebook-born Canadians Against Proroguing Parliament held rallies across the country, including one in Thunder Bay that started at the Labour Centre parking lot Saturday afternoon. The rallies protested the prime minister’s decision to close Parliament through prorogation until March.
More than a hundred people showed up to protest at the Thunder Bay rally. Some carried signs accusing Harper of being a dictator while others called for MPs to get back to work.
Don Radley, 78, came out to protest with his wife Kae, 77. The couple says they are concerned how Harper is running the country. They call him arrogant and accuse him of turning democracy inside out.
"It’s just the last straw," Radley said. "He’s like a 10-year-old boy who pushes and pushes and never misses a chance to stick his elbow in someone else’s ribs."
Emil Potvin carried a large poster he made with his wife, Ann. He said he wanted a big sign to ensure his point got across, and fought the winds that threatened to take it from him.
Potvin’s family traditionally votes Liberal, but Potvin said he is open to other parties’ platforms.
"Harper looked really good," Potvin said. "The SOB turned around on us. It’s sad. He thinks we don’t have a brain."
Local musician Rodney Brown led protesters in a song he wrote just half-an-hour before arriving at the rally. Brown started the chorus alone, but many began singing along with him eventually.
Joyce Hunter, public relations for Canadians Against Proroguing Parliament Thunder Bay Chapter, said she was pleased by the turnout and that it was more than she expected.
Hunter said more than 70 communities across the country were holding rallies similar to the one in Thunder Bay. The rallies will send a message to the government to get back to work, she said.
"There are 37 bills that will be trashed because of prorogation," Hunter said. "We know there are private members’ bills and they will continue. But the bills before Parliament affect Canadians on a day-to-day basis."
Harper has twice used prorogation to suspend Parliament. He first used it after the 2008 federal election, when the potential formation of a coalition government threatened his government. He again used prorogation on Dec. 30.
Hunter said she believes Harper used prorogation this time as a means to silence the committees that were investigating several issues before Parliament. One such issue included the treatment of Afghan detainees.
"We want debate and we want healthy discussion," she said.
MP Bruce Hyer (NDP, Thunder Bay – Superior North) spoke at the rally saying he is still working despite prorogation. He called Canada’s Parliament one of the weakest in the world.
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Hyer said the last year has been a waste, as only private members’ bills will remain unscathed from the suspension. He was relieved that his climate change bill would survive into the New Year.
"I’m really, really, really concerned about democracy in Canada," Hyer said. "Harper said it was a priority to recalibrate Parliament and then look at the silly, fluffy cabinet shuffle."
Hyer said Harper is a realist and pragmatist and if he feels enough heat from the protests, he might reverse his decision.
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