With a signed agreement between the Liberals and the NDP to form a coalition government under the leadership of Stéphane Dion, with the support of the Bloc Quebecois, progressives across the country are moving to show their support for the union.
Ottawa activist Ariel Troster is rallying support for the coalition.
“In terms of any possibility of making gains for our community, a coalition government is the best way to go,” says Troster.
Toronto activist and Spa Excess owner Peter Bochove is moving to organize his network to get involved online.
“I’m delighted,” Bochove says of the coalition. “I want to see as many people as possible speaking out in light of the massive public relations campaign the other side is financing.”
The Conservatives began their public relations assault almost immediately, inviting their supporters to not only offer up “emergency donations” to the party, but also to call into radio talk shows and to write letters to the editor, complete with scripted talking points.
The party has also set up a number of rallies around the country to take place on Dec 6, which they have called “Rally for Canada,” seems largely aimed at both discrediting Bloc support for the coalition, while proclaiming itself as a voice for Canadian democracy.
To counter this sentiment, progressives are rallying around MakeParliamentWork.com, which highlights the need for a coalition because of the Conservatives’ failed economic performance. The site also references the Conservatives’ plan to curtail the right of public servants to strike, and their proposal to claw back women’s right to pay equity.
Public sector unions including the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) and the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) are part of the Make Parliament Work movement.
As well, women’s groups, cultural groups, and even anti-war groups are getting involved, hoping to add their voices to the demand for a coalition government.
“More than 60 percent of the people voted against Stephen Harper in the last election,” Troster points out.
Indeed, the actual number was rounded out to 38 percent support for the Conservatives, while the combined Liberal and NDP support works out to 44 percent, 54 percent if you include the Bloc.
“As far as I’m concerned, a coalition government has the clear mandate to govern,” Troster adds.
Aside from Harper’s lack of responsiveness to queer issues, grassroots organizers are hoping that other areas of social justice will be restored under a coalition government, including the Court Challenges Program, the Kelowna Accord, funding for the Status of Women, and action on the environment.
The last item has already been agreed to in the coalition document signed by the three party leaders, in which they have agreed to a cap-and-trade system with absolute emissions reductions using 1990 as a baseline year. Green Party leader Elizabeth May has also thrown her party’s “unanimous” support behind the coalition.
“It’s not just about getting Harper out,” Troster says. “It’s also about the possibility of a government that will work collaboratively and that will frankly be susceptible to the will of the public because they know that this is controversial territory. I think this is a good opportunity for us.”