Saturday, January 23, 2010

NoProrogue in TO

Some are saying 10,000. The police estimated 7,000. I heard one Conservative pundit swear that there were only 47 protesters, three lost tourists and a hot dog vendor, but I'm pretty sure he was actually in the lineup for 'Fiddler on the Roof' tickets.

Outliers aside, it was a HUGE rally.

I took the GO bus in from Milton with my friend and fellow municipal candidate Carey DePass, and we met up with Deb Gillis once we arrived in Toronto. We had hoped to meet up with a few other Halton friends at Dundas Square, but one look at the crowd and we knew we'd never find them.

And yet, within 15 minutes I managed to find fellow bloggers Jeff, Mark and JimBobby standing right behind me. It's those blogger pheremones - we're just naturally drawn to each other.

The most striking thing about this rally was that it wasn't your usual crowd. Most other protests these days seem to be largely populated by special interest groups out promoting their own agenda. But here, almost every single sign and banner was directed straight at Stephen Harper and prorogation. I saw a few banners for one union off in the corner, and a solitary Truther stood vigil beside the march route. But by and large these people were exactly what they appeared to be: ordinary Canadians, young and old, urbanites and 905ers, all compelled to speak out against a threat to their democracy.

One thing I did find annoying was the NDP signs. This was supposed to be a non-partisan event, and yet there were several people handing out bright orange signs with anti-Harper slogans and a very visible NDP logo on the bottom.

Not cool.

I overheard several compaints about this, and a few people even folded up or covered the bottoms of their signs to hide the logo. And I'm happy to report, there was not a single Liberal Party name or logo to be seen anywhere - except on the Deb Gillis button on my purse.

I'll have video for you later tonight.


  1. It was a surprise to meet you so suddenly! Too bad we got separated, but the crowd was something else!

    I too didn't like the partisan content that came up. The NDP do not own us, that's for sure. But those off-points were well compensated by the genuine outpour of concern over our democracy from all our fellow citizens.

    An, heck, the dippers are as valid as anyone else to be there. They just need to understand that this was truly all from  ordinary Canadians.

  2. Well you know Jack, he loves the media so much that he sticks his face in front of a camera every chance he gets. He is an opportunists and will use any or every opportunity he can to politic even if the rally was made clear to be a non partisan affair. I am quite sure people did notice him and were probably making fun of him. I wonder how long he practiced his speech and his poses before today.

    I guess he's been watching Harper and is still trying to become the leader of this country. As far as I am concerned, he is nothing but a bad joke.

  3. Was I bothered by the NDP signs?  No.  Others had signs supporting their own causes.  There were Greens, Fair Vote Canada, a women's group or two, international socialists, and others.  Do we allow everyone to show their colours or no one show anything?

    I do congratulate the organizers for their overall work.  They did a great job.  I am critical of some of the speakers.  They spoke more about their pet issues than about the prorogation of Parliament.  Also, they need to know their audience and speak to that audience.  Finally, long speeches do not make good speeches.  I started moving from the front to the back because I got tired of listening to some of the long-winded presenters.

    Some people on the internet had concerns about having the rally at privately owned Dundas Square which is surrounded by walls of billboard advertising.  Those concerns are fair.  However, we not not need to have every rally at Queen's Park or City Hall.  We can have rallies elsewhere in the city.  Dundas Square was great yesterday because not only was it a convenient location for access, we gained the attention of people passing by doing their shopping.  This would not have happened at Queen's Park.  The media visuals also look better when events take place in different locations.

  4. I didn't hear all of the speeches - I left in the middle to try to get a panorama shot from one of the buildings.  But the ones I heard were all pretty much on point.  Maybe I missed the worst ones.  I know that sort of thing was prevalent (and annoying) at the pre-Montebello protest in Ottawa.

    My main problem with the NDP signs is that they left the protesters open to accusations of being nothing more than party hacks - which is of course exactly what the Conbots are saying today. It's a pretty desperate argument and utter nonsense, of course (I'm betting most people who carried those signs didn't even notice the NDP logo until they had already taken one), but still - was the logo really necessary?

    BTW, I had the same issue with the union banners and signs from other non-relevent groups, but they were so few and far between that they didn't really register to observers.  The NDP signs were everywhere.

  5. No one seems to be taking the "NewConbot" accusations seriously from where I'm sitting in Ottawa. Sure, there were some NDP signs around, but it seemed like everyone and their cousin had something to wave for the politicians and cameras alike.

    My particular favourite? This one.