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Tide has turned against Harper: Critics gathering in Calgary for counter-summit

The embattled Harper government will be challenged by some of its most prominent opponents in Calgary today. Just after Prime Minister Harper's keynote address at the Conservative policy convention in Calgary, a counter-summit will begin just down the street, entitled Pros & Cons: Policies for People and the Planet. The event is organized by Common Causes, an assembly of social movements dedicated to defending democracy, the environment and human rights. The event is sold out, but will be livestreamed and discussed on Twitter using the hashtag #CommonCauses

"This is the most destructive government Canada has ever had," said Maude Barlow, National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians. "While Harper is trying and failing to reboot his scandal-plagued leadership this weekend, it's clear that his government is past its best before date. Meanwhile, our counter-summit in Calgary will present a different way forward, a way out of the mess this government has created, outlining progressive policies for people and the planet."

Organizers of Pros & Cons argue that we are witnessing a brutal government campaign to silence its critics, and this is unacceptable in a democracy. The counter-summit will highlight the impacts of current and proposed Conservative policies and present an alternative vision, featuring speeches from David Suzuki, Maude Barlow, Crystal Lameman, Paul Moist, Jean Lortie, Andrew Nikiforuk, Jim Stanford, Michael Harris, and Brigette DePape, and will be moderated by Bill Phipps.

"Never before has a federal government gone so far in an attack on working people," said Jean Lortie, Secretary-general, Confédération des syndicats nationaux. "In an effort to deprive workers of fundamental freedoms of association and to collective negotiations, the government is infringing rights that have long been recognized in Canada, such as those guaranteed by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as well as basic conventions of the International Labour Organization."

"When do we say enough is enough? When do we break down the borders and unite collectively? When do we stop relying on a system of oppression implemented by the Government; thus shaking the system of control and moving towards the true intent and spirit of the Treaties defined by us and not some brass hands in a fancy building," said Crystal Lameman, Beaver Lake Cree Nation. "We are gathering in Calgary during the Federal Conservative Convention, where we will show we are breaking down the divide and conquer tactic implemented by the same system that leaves us begging for hand-outs."

"The Conservative government tries to portray itself as the most ‘competent’ manager of the economy, and argues that's why Canadians should re-elect it. But the cold hard numbers tell a very different story," said Jim Stanford, an economist with the new union Unifor. "By all the crucial indicators of real economic performance, Canada is doing worse, not better: employment, investment, exports, productivity, and incomes have all performed terribly.  No matter how often the Conservatives claim Canada's survived the global recession better than most, this claim is simply and clearly false.  I care about building a dynamic, innovative, inclusive, and sustainable economy — but Conservative policies are taking us in exactly the wrong direction."

Pros & Cons takes place tonight from 7:00 pm – 10:00 pm MT at the Castell Library, 616 Macleod Trail SE, Calgary, Alberta. Media interested in covering Pros & Cons on-site are encouraged to register early, as there are a limited number of seats that have been set aside for media.

In addition to Pros & Cons, several protests are planned during the Conservative convention. Details are available at CommonCauses.ca.


www.commoncauses.ca | Twitter: @Common_Causes / @CausesCommunes & #CommonCauses