Regular Canadians delved into the constitutional crisis unfolding in Ottawa Thursday night.
The meeting at the High Country Inn was called to discuss the prospects of a progressive, left-leaning coalition government. It was organized by the Yukon Federation of Labour.
But the coalition is now in jeopardy after Governor General Michaelle Jean prorogued the first session of Parliament that same morning.
Instead, the meeting was a chance to vent frustrations and express opinions, revealing a remarkably high level of emotion and interest in Canada’s constitutional integrity and political discourse.
Some at the microphone read from crumpled sheets of paper, others scribbling new thoughts as people spoke.
Others ad-libbed while Yukon Federation of Labour president Alex Furlong moderated the discussion.
Many sounded relieved Jean prorogued for a “cooling-off” period.
But most acknowledged there will be little cooling off in the next few weeks.
“What we’re likely to see is seven weeks of very shrill, very dangerous propaganda and it will potentially be one-sided because the left-wing parties are not well-funded and the Conservatives are,” said one man.
“It’s not going to be a cooling-off period, it’s going to be an election campaign,” he added.
There was also anger for the way Conservatives have depicted democracy in a Westminster parliamentary system.
“Nobody in the Yukon voted for Stephen Harper. Nobody outside his riding voted for Stephen Harper,” said the same man.
Others were offended by Harper evading the commons.
“Harper is not a leader,” said another man, “I’ve seen leaders my whole life, and they grow through opposition.”
There was a myriad of opinions on the economy, ranging from the size of a stimulus investment from the government to the value of deficit spending.
Many felt offended by the members of the Conservative party demonizing Quebec.
“What’s good for Canada is good for Quebec and what is good for Quebec is good for Canada,” said one visibly emotional man.
Another man pointed out that insulting Quebec members of Parliament on the sovereignty issue has the power to insult the entire province.
“If we’re calling them ‘deals with the devil,’ those are their elected MPs,” he said.
Another man noted Harper behaved undemocratically by igniting the crisis with policy decisions he never mentioned in his election campaign.
“I didn’t see anything in the election about ending women’s equity rights,” he said.
“I didn’t see anything about denying the right to strike for federal employees. I didn’t hear about gutting the opposition parties to the point that they could have gone bankrupt.
“That doesn’t represent a democracy when your opposition does not have the ability to front a proper campaign,” he said.
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