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UPDATE: Social forum is the ‘summit’ Caplan demands

You may have seen the recent Globe and Mail op-ed by commentator and political analyst Gerald Caplan.

He first outlines the common threat we face. “Incrementally, stealthily, furtively, Stephen Harper is moving Canada towards the conservative dystopia he has always cherished, even if he has taken exquisite care never to campaign on it.”

He then highlights that Harper’s agenda of health care and pension cuts does not have the support of Canadians. “According to the most recent polls, only 32 per cent of the Canadian public now supports his government. He won his majority last May with just under 40 per cent of the vote. So he has already lost close to one-quarter of that support. Yet though he lacks the approval of the large majority of Canadians, Mr. Harper functions virtually without constraint.”

And he argues that so far the strategies employed by social movements have not been enough. “Whatever vocal opposition exists outside the paper tiger of parliament does so in small bites, in isolated silos, through indignant tweets, letters to the editor and op-ed pieces in newspapers. …I’m sure the NDP will put up a vigorous fight. But the fact is they can huff and puff till they’re blue in the face but they can’t blow the majority House down.”

His answer? “Isn’t it about time Canadians came together to demonstrate their deep anger at their government? Someone must bring them together. Someone must call together a representative group of angry citizens and figure out what to do next. Call it a summit, a conference, a meeting, an indaba, the alternative Davos – the name’s not important. Getting them together, and fast, is what counts.”

He continues, “There are lots of obvious suspects to take the initiative––the Council of Canadians, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, the Canadian Labour Congress, the Canadian Council for International Cooperation, human rights and civil liberties groups, environmental groups.”

“We need an extra-parliamentary opposition that Mr. Harper will ignore at his peril. I don’t claim to know where the leadership will come from. But it needs to happen, and soon.”

It is for the very reason that Mr. Caplan outlines that the Council of Canadians has been working for months with many organizations, notably Alternatives, to launch a Canada-Quebec-First Nations social forum to bring people together and build a strengthened and more effective extra-parliamentary opposition.

For Council of Canadians campaign blogs related to the organizing of this forum, please click here, http://canadians.org/blog/?s=%22canada-quebec-first%22.