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'We are not an apathetic people': Facebook group founder

On the eve of more than 60 rallies protesting Stephen Harper's long prorogation of Parliament, the co-creators of the group that sparked these nationwide protests have published their thoughts about the relationship between social media and politics.

Christopher White, the graduate student who created Canadians Against Proroguing Parliament (CAPP), published an essay on rabble earlier this week. Here's an excerpt:

We are not, as the traditional thinking goes, an apathetic people. We care deeply about our country, but for too long the increasing cracks in our political system have made it seem beyond repair, leaving people feeling frustrated and disempowered. Finally, we have an issue that unites us, one that we can wrap our heads around while keeping an eye on the eventual end game. This prorogation is far more than a matter of parliamentary procedure, it is emblematic of an institution that has turned its back on its people. We can stand outside and rage against the machine for as long as we like, or we can work together and take it apart, brick by brick and rebuild it anew. The upcoming rallies are not the culmination of our efforts, they are the beginning. Let's start with prorogation and use our inevitable success to push for greater reforms, ones that ensure that our government is accountable, transparent, and responsive to the demands of the electorate. As in, you know, do what it's there for.

Shilo Davis, an early CAPP member who took on the hard job of coordinating tomorrow's rallies, published her thoughts in today's National Post.

At last count, the CAPP Facebook group had over 200,000 members, with more joining every hour. That makes it not only the biggest Facebook group in Canada, but also the quickest large-scale grassroots political mobilization in Canadian history. CAPP has more Facebook followers than all of the major political leaders combined...

It was this online gathering that gave rise to the “real world” organization of CAPP, which is planning rallies in more than 50 cities and towns across Canada tomorrow. Without the initial Facebook throng, there is no way that such a disparate collection of citizens could have organized themselves so quickly across such great distances (the planned rallies cover every province and territory except Nunavut). ....

We don’t pretend that 200,000 people will take to the streets on Saturday. That’s not the point. Three weeks ago, Mr. Harper calculated that proroguing Parliament would be less politically costly than allowing MPs to hold the government accountable for its actions — specifically, to continue investigating the Afghan detainee issue. We’re out to prove him wrong, and dramatically increase the political cost of disrespecting democracy.

Among the 60 or so rallies planned over the next several days are at least a dozen in British Columbia. These include not only events in Vancouver (1 p.m. at the Vancouver Art Gallery), Victoria (1 p.m. at Centennial Square) and Kelowna (1 p.m. at corner of Gordon and Hwy 97), but also Duncan, Courtenay, Kamloops, Maple Ridge, Nanaimo, Penticton, Prince George, and Prince Rupert.

Monte Paulsen reports for The Tyee. Join him on Facebook.

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