My Disillusionment With the Toronto Robocall Rally…

The moment I heard about the Toronto Robocall rally I knew I must get involved. I was deeply disturbed to hear about the possibility that someone manipulated Canada’s last election, and I wanted to help effect change. But, this wasn’t my main motivation- there are bigger fish to fry…

Some of the crowd at the first Robocall Rally.

First, there is the issue that Elections Canada is failing at their job in educating voters about the elections process. Were they successful, people would have known better than to listen to robocalls- this scandal would be a non-issue.

More important, there is the elephant in the room that nobody seems to be talking about- the majority of eligible Canadian voters didn’t vote in the last election. Statistically, it is most likely that Harper wouldn’t have become Prime Minister had they actually made it to the polls! This issue is more important than the rest- by far…

I brought up this issue at the first organizational meeting for the Toronto Robocall rally. Initially, it was very well received, and I was hopeful we were on the right path. But, as the week progressed, this issue was pushed-back and the rally became all about “fire the liars” and almost no mention about fixing Elections Canada.

So, though I truly enjoyed the first rally- the results were bitter-sweet, because we missed the most important issue. I’m all for firing Harper, but that would have only been a temporary fix. We wouldn’t have been protected from the same thing happening in the future.

The crowd marching down Younge St on the way to old city hall

One of the most disturbing parts of the Toronto Rally was that we quickly lost all sense of democracy- quite disturbing for a group promoting democratic principles. One of the most controversial parts of the event was the last-minute introduction of a new speaker- without any discussion within the group. The speaker was Serif Azer, a man from Egypt who claims to have been an organizer of the Arab Spring. Here’s a video of his speech: (Fast-forward to 1:02 to see him)

I was disturbed by his being included in such a non-democratic manner, but thought I’d try once more and go to the planning meeting for this weekend’s event. So I went over to Reyerson University for the meeting last Thursday. And, wow, was I ever disappointed.

First, Jon Allan announced that he registered a new domain name: He changed the whole intention of the group without even consulting us! Then, part way through the meeting, Jon went away for a call and came back with unexpected news- “Guess what! Judy Rebick will be speaking!”

Admittedly, I’m no fan of Judy Rebick- but, this was not my key problem. Had the group been given the opportunity to vote and/or discuss having Judy on the stage I would have been a lot more comfortable. But, simply imposing her on us was a violation on the democratic principles we were there to defend! (BTW, it appears that Rebick won’t be appearing after all now). I walked-out on the meeting then, didn’t want to be a part of an organization that violated its own principles like that.

The new federal government budget was passed yesterday, and was a major disappointment on so many levels. One of the most upsetting parts for me was to see how $7.5 million was cut off of the budget for Elections Canada. I can’t help but imagine we could have stopped this had we kept our eyes on the prize. Unfortunately, it is too late for that now…

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  1. 1) poor electoral turnout is a far more complex problem than any problems Elections Canada may have
    2) it would be have been very ironic if Judy Rebick had spoken in the way you described given that she is an advocate of participatory democracy

    1. 1.) I understand this is a complex issue- but, it is in the mandate of Elections Canada to educate voters- both about the voting process, and about the value of voting itself. Unfortunately, they appeared to have failed miserably at both…

      2.) Judy Rebick spoke at the first Robocall rally in Vancouver 3 weeks ago. And, yes, I did see the irony of this. In fact, if you look behind the curtain, you’ll see she has been quite active on this issue…

  2. Reblogged this on Toronto Movement Against Voter Suppression.

    • Janice on April 1, 2012 at 19:33
    • Reply

    Unfortunately very few Canadians know what democracy looks like or how equals relate to each other. I find the complete passivity of most Canadians unnerving.

    1. Indeed, me too! Put simply, it blows my mind like the worst acid trip…

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