One year ago today… Rallies for Canada

Today marks the one year anniversary of our Rallies for Canada from coast-to-coast-to-coast. We organized these during the week that turned this country’s politics upside down when the Liberal-NDP coalition was proposed and propped up by the Bloc Quebecois. We rallied in over 20 cities from Halifax to Victoria, in places such as Calgary and Toronto and pleasant surprises like Brandon, MB and London, ON. Here’s a video of my speech from the rally on Parliament Hill where the Ottawa Citizen reported that 3500 people attended on a chilly December day to express their shock and outrage over the proposed coalition.

www.kinsellasfortruth.com

Like Warren Kinsella, I’ve stayed out of much of this whole story about RepublicansforIgnatieff.com. First, it was because I was enjoying the blogosphere’s reaction to the website, and then the media’s reaction to the website, and then the reaction to it by Michael Ignatieff’s war room chief.

Today I became “Kinsella-famous” (as one reader emailed to say). Warren Kinsella states that he thinks that I am behind the website that insincerely lauds Michael Ignatieff.

True, I’m no stranger to online activism and politicking; I launched Iggyfacts.ca to help define Michael Ignatieff enabling users of Twitter to retweet facts about our favourite accidental tourist. In December, I launched RallyforCanada.ca to help organize nationwide protests against the Ignatieff endorsed unelected coalition government supported by the Bloc Quebecois. Please forgive the tone here, it is just to make the point that I am more that likely to put my name on my projects.

As for RepublicansforIgnatieff.com, I’d like to thank Kinsella for the kind words; the website has caused a lot of stir and it’s deeply complimentary to for him think that I’d be the one behind it.

In Ottawa, the politics of distraction is the process story. RepublicansforIgnatieff.com is a bit of mana from heaven for political journalists who think that communion wafers, G8 photo-op flops and PM apologies are played out. RFI.com is a perfect process story to hit web browsers and newspaper readers for a period of days, if not a couple of weeks. For someone that trades in process stories, Kinsella however recognizes that this story deflects from the main storyline and only Liberal-driven process stories are beneficial to his team. So how to kill a story that isn’t?

A lesson that I’ve learned from online politics and media in this town is that official still matters. You or I could make commercial quality Youtube videos everyday until the next election, but unless they were official party efforts, they would be largely ignored because of significance of source. If Stephen Harper made a Youtube video slagging Ignatieff, it would be national news. Iggyfacts.ca is a decent enough website, but while it got some buzz in the blogosphere, it didn’t get too much play in the mainstream media. If the Conservative Party had financed it and put the “paid for by the Conservative Party of Canada” tagline on the bottom, it would get much wider attention. The significance of source is measured and assessed when a process story is written and we shouldn’t be too surprised by this.

Now to RFI.com. The source of this website is unknown. It’s a decent enough website, but is it Conservative Party, NDP, Republican, or me? The mystery around the website itself has become most of the story. By trying to tag me as the author of the website, Kinsella seeks to eliminate the mystery, and the story.

“You mean some guy made it and its not a Karl Rove or Doug Finley production? Moving on…”

Over the last couple of days, I’ve watched, with some astonishment, the efforts of Liberal partisans to investigate the website and, if not address the arguments made there, the person who made the site. Sometimes a wise communications strategy for an individual under fire is to stop talking about what’s antagonizing them. It’s a much more difficult task to integrate this strategy into the Liberal collective.

Unfortunately for Kinsella (and for me), I did not create RepublicansforIgnatieff.com. The Liberal war room chief unfortunately misattributes a quote from a Liberal partisan named “Ted” (Ted Betts) to a sometimes Conservative partisan pen-named Raphael Alexander as shaky evidence of my involvement. I denied making the site about a week ago.

So who is behind the website? I really don’t know. I have my suspicions, but for now the process story will spend another day in the sun as the Liberals keep talking about it.

Rally for Canada budget consultation survey results

On Friday, I sent out an email to the tens of thousands on the Rally for Canada email list asking them to participate in a small survey concerning the upcoming federal budget.  I asked people four questions concerning the government spending and their public policy priorities.  Over three thousand people responded on Friday and over the weekend.  I will be passing on the results to the office of the Minister of Finance as promised.

Q: On the question of Canada’s upcoming federal budget to get us through the economic crisis, which balance within the following options do you think is best for the government to implement? (n=3003)

Q: Which issues are most important to you from a government policy point of view? (n=3051)

Here is the same graph sorted in descending order (n=3051):

Q: What should be done with the Senate? (n=3007)

Q: What should be done with funding for the CBC? (n=2998)

Some notes: “n” is the number of respondents to each question.  Data was gathered from 8am Friday through midnight Sunday night.  Sample data is gathered from a population set that registered on the anti-coalition website RallyforCanada.ca between December 4th 2008 and January 9th 2009.  Answers were not randomly cycled.

That said, this data gives us insight into the priorities of Canadians who are against the concept of a Bloc-supported NDP-Liberal coalition government.  The first question was a careful balance on both sides of the spending vs. taxes debate.  On one hand, the answer set does not include an option to decrease spending and on the other, four out of five answers prompt at least some tax relief.  Most analysts believe that the federal budget will include some tax relief and stimulus in the form of government spending.  The largest group believed a balance spending/tax relief approach would be best while the second largest group favours substantial tax relief and no new spending (given the options presented).

The second question had 24 options.  Each option was a yes/no checkbox to pick public policy priorities.  There was little surprise on the distribution of public policy interests as the generally right-of-centre respondents selected jobs, economy, crime, tax cuts, healthcare choice, and military spending as priorities while passing on foreign aid, culture and arts, and native affairs.  Wheat board reform is generally a conservative priority yet this question is likely too regional for a national survey.

On the specific questions, it is of particular interest that 90% of respondents believe that the Senate in it’s current form must change.  Only 10% of respondents thought that the Senate ought to be left as it is.  On the question of spending for a particular budget item, respondents indicated that funding for the CBC should be decreased (61%) while only 6% thought it should be increased.

Thank you!

To everyone that made the Rally for Canada rallies a success, I want to say a sincere thank you. In Ottawa, we braved -10C weather and managed to turn out between 2000-4000 (RCMP said 3000, Ottawa Citizen reports 3500!!). In Toronto, about 1500 turned out to the rally there. Calgary had reports of up to 5000 people in the city core rallying. We rallied people in cities from Halifax to Victoria and places like London, Kitchener, Saskatoon, and Kelowna in BC. In total, over 20 cities held rallies today. Looks like we have a real grassroots movement on our hands here. We’re having the debate that they didn’t want us to have. Thank you to everyone who helped make this possible.

It’s been a busy day, and I expect a busy couple of days wrapping up this event. Please pass on your stories from the day and I’ll post them here!

UPDATE: Winnipeg had 600 people in about -25C weather (with windchill). The rally was bigger than the coalition rally which was held in a warm hotel ballroom.

Rally for Canada today!

Today, in 24 cities coast-to-coast-to-coast, Canadians will assemble at legislatures, city halls and other gathering locations to send a message to Ottawa.

They will let the Parliamentarians know that they are concerned about political games at a time of economic crisis and that the last thing Canada needs now is political instability. Many Canadians breathed a sigh of relief when the Governor General granted the Prime Minister a prorogation of Parliament. This is encouraging because the Minister of Finance will continue to tend to Canada’s books and there over the next 90 days at least, we’ll see a sound and stable political direction on the economic file.

I had no idea that RallyforCanada.ca would receive such a response. Since Monday, the website has received hundreds of thousands of hits and tens of thousands of people have signed up with their email addresses to indicate that they either want to organize or participate in a rally today. It is a grassroots movement; a couple of guys named Matt O’Brien and Ed Woolley started a Facebook event while I kicked off RallyforCanada.ca to draw as many people as possible to the somewhat bizarre idea of rallying for the status quo and against a threat to its stability. We want to rally for the democratic principles of Canada, to let Parliamentarians know that while they within their technical right to flip power at any time, doing so after a Prime Minister earns a mandate on the issue of the economic downturn lacks moral authority and is nothing but a cynical grab for power.

If you’re headed out to a rally today, I’d love to hear your story when you return. Drop me an email or put a comment in this thread. Rally participants will be twittering, youtubing and flickr-ing so hopefully we’ll have some content up soon.

Dress warm, stay safe and enjoy the day.

RallyforCanada.ca by the numbers

It is now just before 11am on Wednesday. Since I launched RallyforCanada.ca at 10am on Monday morning, the rallies have attracted a lot of attention.

After 48 hours, here are some stats:

127,149 hits on the website
20,400 people signed up with their email addresses (and province)
358 followers on twitter

I’ve done a lot of media on the rallies:
CBC: Don Newman’s Politics
CTV Alberta
CHCH
CBC: The National
Citytv

National Post
Le Devoir
La Presse
Metro News (Ottawa)
Canadian Press (CP)
Toronto Star
Hill Times

CHQR (2 hits)
CJAD
CFRB
CBC Winnipeg
CBC Montreal

On my Blackberry, I have 1121 unread emails.

I’ve received calls of support from across the country and a small trickle of hate mail.

Perhaps the most bizarre call I got was from a group calling themselves “les jeunes patriotes du Quebec”. They described themselves as a group of separatists that are against the Bloc joining the coalition and selling out to Stephane Dion. They wanted to know if they could rally with us.

“You want to rally? ‘for Canada’?” I asked.
“Uh, yes” they said.

How disgusting, I thought. This was hardly a group coming on side to support strengthening our country with rallies. I tried to tease as much information out of them as I could by sounding as if I was perhaps considering their ludicrous idea. I invited them to send me an email with their info and request so I could expose it here on the blog. They never did. Too bad.

I think that what bothers Canadians most about this crazy week in politics is the proposed coalition government’s association with the Bloc. If the rogue-faction from the separatists want to rally, they can have their own. As for the rest of the separatists, they can rally with the “Progressive Coalition” which is supporting the proposed NDP-Liberal-Bloc coalition government.

Announcing RallyforCanada.ca

In response to the madness that has occurred on Parliament Hill within the last week – the Conservatives announcing their economic statement, the Opposition foaming at the mouth over it, the revelation that this was all contrived as a NDP-Bloc plan to install a Liberal government was in the works for “a long time” and so on – RallyforCanada.ca has launched.

I for one think that while the opposition has the right to play their games, this is the wrong time for Canada. We just came through an election and the Prime Minister earned a mandate to lead Canada through the economic crisis. Do we really want the Bloc Quebecois dictating the terms of the next government? Do we want the NDP at the economic helm as people stand on the verge of losing their jobs across Canada?

I put together the website to support the grassroots efforts already underway to organize rallies in cities all across this great country. People who want Parliament to stop bickering and get back to work are joining up and spreading the word. Less than 1% of Canadians are members of political parties and most people think of politics for a full 7 seconds a week. The rest of Canada worries about their kids, their paycheque and their mortgage payment.

So, go join up at http://www.rallyforcanada.ca and if you can help organize or provide logistical support, please email me.

If you’re on Facebook, please donate your status update to include “http://www.rallyforcanada.ca”.

If you’re using Twitter, tweet using the hashtag #canadarally.

If you’re a talkshow radio host or producer, let’s get the word out.

We need to get Parliament back to work and provide political stability so that we can attain economic stability.