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Dippers to join Facebook rallies

NDP leader Jack Layton praised the fast-growing Facebook protest against proroguing Parliament, and urged New Democrats to attend nationwide rallies planned for January 23.

"The online protest is very interesting. It's the new way that politics is being done. I think it's very exciting," Layton said in Vancouver on Wednesday.

"We will be attending the rallies across Canada," the NDP leader promised. "We encourage New Democrats and all Canadians to participate in this grassroots movement to speak out in favor of Democracy."

Layton, who has called on the Prime Minister to recall Parliament on January 25, said Conservative leader Harper has misread the public mood.

"Mr. Harper said that Canadians don't care if Parliament is shut down. I think he's wrong," Layton said. He cited, "the response of the Internet of tens of thousands of people, many of whom have never been involved in politics, who are not partisan in one way or another, who just believe that their democratic institutions are important."

The main protest group, Canadians Against Proroguing Parliament, had 180,000 members on Wednesday. Support sites, such as and regional Facebook pages, have been spouting daily.

Layton noted that the online protest was largely a non-partisan response.

"We're seeing with this padlocking of Parliament a public participation and engagement in defense of their institutions... You try to take away their opportunity to have their voices articulated in the democratic chamber, and you precipitate a real reaction from Canadians. I think it's been quite remarkable. And it crosses all the party lines."

Monte Paulsen reports for The Tyee.

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