Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Canada Place – Rally for the Coalition

with 4 comments

Colation Rally

Colation Rally

Photo by Paul Hillsdon – posted on facebook

The place was packed. At half past five people were taking their seats while outside there was a lot of chorused shouting of slogans. Lots of media presence – I had the sense I was at the place where news was being made.

Inside the two huge ballrooms that sense began to falter as the band – quite a good one – kept being told to “do one more number”. Things got going late but seemed quite upbeat: I got the sense that the BC Fed and the NDP were actually running the show, though they did trot out Herb Dhaliwal who did his best – even though someone behind me tried to throw something at him. No damage was done and the perp was not identified – though the stewards did their best.

They managed to cue up a video of Jack Layton alright, but the one from Stephane Dion had problems. Odd that. But the audience – it seemed to me where I was sitting that they were all like me – older and white – cheered all equally. There were a large number standing at the back – they were the people who had brought home made banners and seemed younger and more diverse. But the general feeling was good natured and a sense of unity around the idea that Stephen Harper was not going to divide us.

I left feeling good. But when I got home, I turned on CBC Newsworld. They were already declaring the coalition dead. Liberals in particular were identified as wanting out – and offering the Conservatives policy guidance. “Give us this concession and we will fall in line again” apparently. Andrew Coyne, of course, was leading the pack in announcing that the coalition could not last seven weeks and that every party – except the Bloc – was now in the business of “damage control” .

And apparently this is all because Western Canada is angry that the Conservative government that it elected would not tolerate a coalition. “Western Canada” of course being code for Alberta.

I had the sense at the meeting that there really was a common purpose among progressives who are tired of right wing orthodoxy and dogmatism. And the prescriptions being offered for the current malaise – transit, daycare, infrastructure, more EI – seemed to strike a chord. There was even talk about the need to become more green and look to ways to regorganise our economy to fight climate change (no cheers for that I noticed)

But clearly these things are not decided in public meetings in Vancouver. Central Canada has moved on. The CBC “at issue” panel – one in Ottawa, one in Toronto, one in Montreal – has spoken. So the rest of us had just better fall in line.

UPDATE The Canadian Press is now reporting attendance last night as “more than a thousand”

The rally was organized by the B.C. Federation of Labour and the Canadian Labour Congress and was one of several pro-coalition events that was staged across the country Thursday.

and here is an article in the New York Times which seems more balanced than anything I have seen in the our media

Written by Stephen Rees

December 4, 2008 at 9:30 pm

Posted in Transportation

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4 Responses

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  1. I was there, arrived shortly before the band stopped playing. Had to stand in the back, but managed to get a somewhat good viewpoint.

    I’m still on the fence about this Coalition though. They haven’t said anything that I think would really make a difference. I’m not sold on the reimbursement package, and some of their core issues are things that I’ve heard for a while but never seen much change.

    One thing that stood out to me though, was how they said ( several times ) how they wanted to invest in transit. As soon as I heard that, I was wondering what you might be thinking about that. Any thoughts?

    Sean Hagen

    December 4, 2008 at 10:03 pm

  2. Well of course I welcome the idea that we invest in transit. But I want an important qualification added. Instead of investing in roads not as well as investing in roads.

    I like the idea of a coalition that gets us way from the current dogmatic right wing tories. If they were old fashioned “red tories” it would not bother me so much. But Harper and John Cummins are downright scary. They are Reform Party – not old PC hands.

    Stephen Rees

    December 4, 2008 at 10:17 pm

  3. I definitely agree with you on Harper being scary. I was scared of him even before he got elected.

    Sean Hagen

    December 4, 2008 at 10:37 pm

  4. Ya, I too noticed nobody really cheered for the green economy. I threw a woot woot out there, but the crowd didn’t really react. I think it was because of how huge the turnout was from the NDP and labour movement – I mean, they were technically the hosts.

    Peter Julian was quite good.

    I felt great, but just like you came home to the media proclaiming the coalition was dead. I’m waiting to see the official response from the Libs and NDP, but it’ll truly be a sad, sad day if the one remaining glint of hope for progress is destroyed, because we all know if that happens the Tories will sweep to a majority.

    Paul Hillsdon

    December 5, 2008 at 12:04 am

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