WARNOCK: Regina Rally: Support the Coalition!

WARNOCK: Regina Rally: Support the Coalition!

Postby Oscar » Fri Dec 05, 2008 6:40 pm

Regina Rally: Support the Coalition!

by John W. Warnock
December 5, 2008


Around 400 people gathered last night in Regina to demonstrate their support for the new Coalition and to plan a response to Stephen Harper’s seizure of power. The message from the meeting was clear: the Conservatives have no right to continue in office and the sooner they leave the better we will all be.

Prior to the meeting I circulated among the crowd gathered outside the auditorium. People were generally angry. I asked a group of women what they thought of the decision by the Governor General to allow Harper to suspend the parliament to avoid losing a vote of confidence.

“She had no right to do that,” they all insisted. “She violated the historic rules of parliament. She didn’t even try to appear to be neutral,” they added. “She cancelled the afternoon meetings with the Opposition and did not offer any explanation for her decision.” One added: “She should be called Momma Doc, and the next thing she will do is appoint Harper as Prime Minister for life.”

Joyce Green from the University of Regina opened the meeting by reminding everyone that “You are the majority! In the last election the Liberals, the NDP, the Bloc Quebecois and the Green Party won 62% of the votes. In the House of Commons the opposition parties have a majority of the seats. The Coalition has the constitutional right to form the government.”

Working with the Harper government

Fred Clipsham described the experience of the City of Regina and other municipalities in working with the Conservatives in Ottawa. He recalled that “in June 2006 at a meeting of the Canadian Federation of Municipalities, before 1300 representatives, Harper declared that municipalities were the responsibility of the provincial governments and just walked out of the meeting.” The CFM had prepared detailed reports on the disintegration of municipal infrastructures across Canada and the inability of the local governments to finance needed upgrades and expansions. They were asking for badly needed federal government support.

In 2006 the Harper government announced a $33 billion program, the Building Canada Fund, to rebuild local infrastructures. As of November 2008 they had only funded a single project, the Ipsco Place renovation in Regina.

In the meantime, Clipsham reported, a study concluded that across Canada municipalities needed $23 billion to repair existing facilities and $115 billion to begin new projects which had been deferred because of a lack of funds. “We need affordable housing and public transit,” he argued, “and that will come with a Coalition government.

Solid support from the Liberals

Monica Lysack, who ran in the last federal election, spoke for the Liberal Party. First she read a letter sent to the meeting from Ralph Goodale. He argued that it was impossible to work with the Harper government. A change was needed, and that was why the Coalition was formed. It will be necessary to defeat the Conservatives when the House of Commons resumes. The Conservative Party cannot continue to rule when it does not have a majority and none of the opposition parties will support it. Harper has burned his bridges.

In addition, Goodale argued that “the Harper government has failed Saskatchewan on all issues.” The Coalition “will be very good for this province.”

The Harper government and child care

“It is time for a new kind of politics in Canada,” Lysack argued. “Harper has gone to the electorate three times and failed to gain a majority of the votes or the seats in Parliament. Then, in his economic statement last week he attacked women and democracy.”

Lysack, who had a long history of promoting child care, explained her work in Ottawa on this issue. “As we developed the National Child Care Program, we had the support of the NDP and the Bloc. But Stephen Harper and the Conservatives refused to co-operate. They did not even come to the committee meetings.” The Coalition is strongly committed to a national child care program.

The loudest applause and cheers in the evening came when Lysack denounced Harper for his attack on the Bloc and Quebec. “Harper has no principles and is willing to promote Canadian disunity in order to try to stay in office.”

The economic crisis in here

Stephen Morris spoke for the NDP. He was the candidate for the party in Regina Wascana, against Ralph Goodale. Morris stressed that he and Goodale have political differences, “But we are respectful at all times. We are not personal enemies.”

“The economy is in big trouble,” Morris argued. “Unemployment is rising. This is a world crisis. We are bound to be adversely affected by the deep recession in the United States.”

The Conservatives under Stephen Harper do not seem to understand this. “They have not presented a serious economic paper. They are actually proposing major cuts to the federal budget, They have abolished the process of co-operation with all parties on the formation of the budget,” he argued.

“The Harper Conservatives are also dishonest. They have attacked the Bloc Quebecois and its support for the Coalition. But they have depended on the support of the Bloc in many confidence votes over the past few years. The 2007 Harper budget was only passed with the support of the Bloc.”

Throughout the meeting members of the audience regularly shouted out “dictator” and “dictatorship,” Morris ended by saying that we need a change in government – a new kind of government. “A government which emphasized the strengths of Canada, united and co-operative, a collaborative government, fair and inclusive.” This would be “the Canada of the majority.”

After vowing to expand their support for the Coalition, the audience broke into a spontaneous singing of Oh Canada.
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