Will anti-proroguing group show up for Saturday protest?


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OTTAWA -- Canada will find out Saturday whether the 200,000-plus people who joined an anti-proroguing group on Facebook are up for doing more than just a quick click of a mouse.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 22/01/2010 (4754 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

OTTAWA — Canada will find out Saturday whether the 200,000-plus people who joined an anti-proroguing group on Facebook are up for doing more than just a quick click of a mouse.

National Day of Action protests are planned for more than four dozen cities in Canada and four internationally. In Winnipeg the rally is set to begin at 1 p.m. at the Spence Street Pedestrian Mall on the University of Winnipeg campus. There will be speeches by local residents upset by the prorogation, followed by a march to the Manitoba legislature grounds where they will sing O Canada.

Protesters are invited to march back to the University of Winnipeg for hot chocolate.

Christopher Burnett, one of the organizers of the rally, said he is not sure how many people to expect. There were 45 people at the most recent planning meeting, though another 150 people who said on Facebook they might attend didn’t show up.

"If there are less than 500 I will be disappointed," said Burnett.

More than 208,000 people have joined the Facebook site since it was set up in late December. More than 1,000 people have signed up for the Facebook site dedicated just to the Winnipeg protest rally.

A Rideau Institute study of the members of the group found it was actually made up of members who were older and more politically engaged than some critics have alleged.

The study, which involved surveying the members directly and is not considered to be scientific, found 50 per cent of the respondents were over the age of 45, 88 per cent considered themselves politically engaged and 96 per cent said they voted in the last election.

Burnett, who is 36, said suggestions the Facebook group is made up mainly of students without much else to do with their time is wrong.

"Most of the people I’ve been working with to organize this are over 50," said Burnett. "I haven’t been a student for 13 years."

He also is not a political activist and has never organized something like this before. He said his main political contribution is voting in every election that has happened since he turned 18. He said he has no affiliation to any political party either.

The protest group also chose not to invite any politicians to speak at the rally Saturday in an attempt to keep the event as "non-partisan as possible," said Burnett.

Burnett said he joined the Facebook group initially because he was outraged when Prime Minister Stephen Harper prorogued Parliament for the second time in just over a year when he was facing opposition to his leadership.

"For Harper to do it once was one thing but twice is not acceptable," said Burnett. He said he’s encouraged by the response and said he hopes politicians are taking notice.

"Ultimately we’d like to see parliament come back on Monday like it was supposed to," he said. "But we also want politicians to know we’re watching, we’re engaged and we want them to be accountable."

Winnipeg rally

WHAT: Canadians Against Proroguing Parliament Rally

WHEN: Saturday, Jan. 23, 1 p.m.

WHERE: University of Winnipeg Spence Street Pedestrian Mall


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