The Facebook Rebellion
On the one side, the Toronto Star has adopted its usual understated approach, blasting a front page “grassroots fury” headline in response to a then 20,000 member Facebook group. Which, in fairness, looks kind of impressive when compared to the 473 fans of the Toronto Star on Facebook.
This headline prompted ridicule from Dan Cook (“0.06% of Canadians are Mad”), while Conservative bloggers such as Stephen Taylor have generally scoffed at the group, noting that 127,000 joined the anti-coalition Facebook group last December. (Of course, if this prorogation even generates even half the backlash that the coalition did, the Tories are probably in quite a bit of trouble.)
Charles Adler and Matt Gurney have also ridiculed the group, complaining that people were acting immature (on Facebook of all places!) posting Harper "nazi" pictures on the group...and we all know that sort of juvenile photo-shop would never happen in a real grassroots movement.
More to the point, Gurney has drawn attention to a rival group, to show just how easy it is to get
So just how impressive is the anti-prorogue group?
Well, Ignatieff, Harper, and Layton all have between 27,000 and 30,000 supporters on Facebook. And they’ve been building those numbers over some time, so there’s reason to believe this group isn’t just composed of people who join every political group they’re invited to (“Help elect Joe Nantuckett for the PEI Liberals? Sure!”).
While it’s difficult to get a comprehensive list, I ran a few quick keyword searches and the following appear to be the largest Canadian political groups out there:
Canadians against a Liberal/NDP coalition: 127,191
Canadians petition to cut gas prices to 79.9 cents: 111,709
Fair Copyright for Canada: 86,349
Canadians Against Proroguing Parliament: 75,752
Canadians against the new copyright bill C-61: 71,885
Legalize it, Canada: 70,923 (“it”, being pot)
CANADIANS AGAINST THE NORTH AMERICAN UNION: 64,850
Ordinary Canadians DO SUPPORT the Arts, Mr. Harper. You are dead wrong: 63,246
So the anti-prorogue group has been able to match some of the largest “lefty” issue groups out there, in a very short time. No, that doesn't mean it's an issue that will move votes -I'd imagine most of the members weren't exactly Harper-holics beforehand, and I have a hard time seeing anyone changing their vote over this.
But as it creeps towards the membership total of the anti-coalition group, it certainly shouldn't be ignored.
UPDATE: 83,000 in the group and, more importantly, the tories are down 3 points in the latest Ekos poll.