Let them eat Perogies, Guelphites say

Sunday, January 17, 2010


Written by Martina Schaefer

On December 30th 2009, Stephen Harper asked the Governor General to prorogue Parliament until March 3, 2010. The request, which was granted, means that instead of returning to work at the end of January as scheduled, Parliament will be suspended until March 3. Any bills previously presented that have not yet passed will be cleared from the table, and when things resume, the Harper government will have a “clean slate” for its next term.

This move has caused much frustration for many of Canada’s citizens. Over 200,000 people from various Canadian locales – and elsewhere – have joined the Facebook group “Canadians Against Proroguing Parliament,” and rallies and protests are being organized across the nation in response.

Many rallies are planned for Saturday January 23, including one in downtown Guelph entitled “Perogies Not Proroguing!” The non-partisan event will include a march starting from St. George's Square, as well as a panel discussion and question and answer session, and of course, perogies. The rally will give students and community members the opportunity to gather together to raise awareness of the issue at hand, learn more about how they are affected, and express their opinions about the proroguing. The event has been put together by the Guelph branch of the Council of Canadians, which has over 70 chapters, as well as the local chapter of Canadians Against Proroguing Parliament, which was formed recently in response to the proroguing, and the Canadian Union of Public Employees.

The organizers are hoping that as awareness increases about the prorogue issue, people will become more attuned to what goes on in Parliament. Norah Chaloner, who does work with the Council of Canadians in Guelph, expressed concern over the same issues that many other Canadians have. “We’re a country at war, we’re a country with Afghan detainees, we’re a country with climate change policy that is not developed and responsible, and all these issues should not be shelved for another two months…we thought well, you know, we shouldn’t be having proroguing, we should be having perogies.” Of course, student debt is also a major issue. “The cost of education for young people today is, in my opinion, criminal…[we should be] investing in our young people.”

People attending the rally are encouraged to bring questions for the panel, which will include Guelph’s MP, Frank Valeriote, among others. “We want people from all walks of life in the community [to attend], and we believe that there is a broad cross-section of people who are concerned about this, and not necessarily people who have always been politically active,” said Angela Allt, an organizer from Canadians Against Proroguing Parliament in Guelph. In addition to attending the rally, she suggests that people who want to take action should write to their local MP and to the prime minister to voice their concerns. She is hoping for some positive results as more awareness is raised. “I’d like to see people become more vocal on this subject, and I would hope that when the next election rolls around, they remember this.”

This is the second time Stephen Harper has prorogued in two years. Concerns being raised at this point by citizens include the current lack of job availability across Canada, the controversy over the well-being of Afghan detainees in Canadian custody, and Canada’s role in environmental protection. Of course, an ongoing concern for students is the cost of tuition. No work on these issues will continue until Parliament resumes on March 3, which falls conveniently after the 2010 winter Olympic games in Vancouver.

The rally will begin at St. George's square at 1pm on January 23. Perogies will be served at Knox Presbyterian Church at 1:45, and the panel discussion will start at 2pm. More information can be found on the Facebook event page "Rally - Perogies not Proroguing" or on the Council of Canadians' website (http://canadians.org/).

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