My five hours watching C-38 from the Gallery
After helping to organize the Parliament Hill edition of LeadNow's cross country "13 heroes" campaign I wanted to witness democracy happen in the first person. I sat in the Opposition gallery of the House of Commons from 11:30pm June 13 until 4:30am the next morning.
For five hours I watched hundreds of MPs stand and sit repeatedly. Andrew Coyne's named this "bobbing for democracy" and I agree with him that it seems futile but is completely necessary at this stage.
I've heard second hand about Elizabeth May's tenacity and did not doubt we would see it from her during the voting, but it is something else to witness for yourself. She voted for 24 hours straight and never missed a vote though apparently there was one mix-up in the tallying. Incredible.
— kady o'malley (@kady) June 15, 2012
After listening to the votes for so many hours the details get blurred and one is left to listen to the rhythm itself. The Speaker calls for those in favour to stand. Voting starts with Mulcair, down through the NDP, the Liberals, then the Bloc, then newly independent Bruce Hyer and finally to "Mizz May" (as pronounced by the clerk). After reciting any long list the clerk would drop their voice when calling for May's vote. There was a finality in the expression.
Then the clerk would call for those members against the motion to stand which begins with Prime Minister Harper (at which point his cheering section would join in).
The contrast was simply striking. Voting on an amendment begins and you can't help but hope perhaps it will pass. For minutes you listen to names being called then the clerk calls May's name at the end with finality in her voice. There is a brief pause like a low-ebb between waves then hopes are dashed and the next wave comes in and you realize another amendment drowns in a sea of partisanship. It is sad really. Especially given the fact most (all?) CPC MPs haven't read C-38 or the motions themselves.
— Elizabeth May MP (@ElizabethMay) June 14, 2012
Elizabeth made a huge sacrifice to be there for every vote which is difficult enough in itself. It would be hard enough to see each amendment fail - but to have your vote immediately followed by cheering and blind partisan unity would be emotionally draining at another level altogether.
Nonetheless, after all that Elizabeth was elegant and gracious to the end. I have no doubt she will be as energetic as ever going forward. We did not find thirteen Conservative heroes but I do believe Elizabeth has shown us all the way to be heroes.
Be strong, be civil, and never give up.
— Elizabeth May MP (@ElizabethMay) June 15, 2012