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“This is what democracy looks like”

This is what democracy looks like

This is what democracy looks like

I have to admit, I was worried. What if Stephen Harper was right? What if Canadians really didn’t care?

I’ve been to poorly attended demonstrations before, and they can leave you feeling a little deflated. And this one? This one was so important, not just for democracy in Canada but also because it was a test of whether activism on the Internet means anything at all. I don’t think anybody knew for sure before yesterday.

So when GC and I emerged from Metcalfe Street onto Wellington, and saw the throngs of people streaming onto Parliament Hill, I felt a combination of relief, joy and hope.

It turned out to be a great rally. There were some interesting speakers (I especially liked the passionate 17-year-old documentary film-maker who told Stephen Harper that if he didn’t want to lead, he should get out of the way, because there is so much critical work to be done, particularly on the environment, and no time to waste). There were some funny signs (“I prorogued the dishes to be here. Now get back to work.”). There was top-notch music (The Raging Grannies, and Trevor Strong from the Arrogant Worms, among others). There were puppets and flags and sunshine.

antiprorogue1But mostly it just felt good to witness such a strong display of activism among Canadian youth, and to be in the company of so many people who care about democracy, the environment, and Canada. It was a surprisingly non-partisan event, which I liked. Democracy belongs to the people – all the people.

Like Coyote said, it wasn’t perfect, but the imperfections made it all the more authentic. This was youth-led grass-roots activism at its very best. Thanks to everyone who had a part in organizing it, and to every single person who showed up and got counted, including local bloggers Dr. Dawg, Nat, Finola, Milan, Ottawa Rambler, and Coyote.

Here’s my video of Trevor Strong singing his new anti-prorogue song, followed by Canada’s hilarious unofficial national anthem, We Are the Beaver. I thought I had split the video into two separate videos, but evidently not. If you just want to see the Beaver song, fast forward to about the 2 minute and 45 second mark. That song totally cracks me up.

11 comments to “This is what democracy looks like”

  • sassy

    I attended that thought it was very well organized.

  • I felt relief when I saw the crowd – a poor turnout would have been pathetic. Canadian’s care! Now we wait to see if Harper will listen. Oh, the beaver song is hillarious.

  • Nat

    I really didn’t know what to expect from the rally/protest on the Hill. I think like you, I didn’t know if people would put on the snow boots and go. Given the experiences of the past few weeks, it reaffirmed my belief that when people might just stand up for what’s right.

  • That was my first rally ever. When I was in the military, I was forbidden from such activities… as a pawn of the Queen we had to pretend to be without opinion on everything governmental. If the cause alone wasn’t enough to bring me out, the newly-gained freedom to have an opinion certainly would have. I was pleased to be a part of it.

    I kept an eye out for you but failed to spot you. Had I known I was looking for a gorgeous hat like the one you wore (pic on Robin’s blog) it might have been easier. Knitters have a sixth sense when it comes to handknits… :)

  • 400 + in Halifax – population 340 000.

    20 in Truro (and thats 1 in 1000 of the city and surrounds population, remember the whole population of the province is only 1 million)

    I think 1 in 1000 people actually going out in the cold to protest is pretty good

  • Carmen

    Too cool!!!!

  • Gillian

    I’m sure there is a statistic (not much publicized)cthat every person attending a rally represents X who have a similar opinion. I believe there is also one for writing your member of parliament. 1:300 is what I think I’ve heard for the latter. I’d like to know the accurate number. So congrats to all who showed up.

  • Fantastic write up, and thank you once again for the inspiration to get up off the couch!

  • […] 24 January 2010] Other Ottawa bloggers also attended the event: Zoom, Watawa Life, and […]

  • Okay cbc reports 400 at the halifax rally but that was at the beginning, by the height of it organizers estimate 750-1000

  • That’s great that so many of you were there!

    Gillian, I’ve heard that too, and although I can never remember the number, it has motivated me to show up many, many times when I didn’t really feel like it.