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Shilo Davis: Nomination for Nation Builder of 2010

Dec 22nd, 2010 - A few weeks ago I came across the Globe & Mail's 2010 Nation Builder award. It invited readers to submit a nomination for who they think did the most over the past year to make Canada a better place. No one, in my humble opinion, did more to advance Canadian democracy in one short year than Shilo Davis of Hamilton Ontario.

And while she did not, from what we can tell, make the Globe and Mail's short-list with the one year anniversary right around the corner I thought I would take a moment and use this space to recognize her inspirational efforts to help improve our society, our democracy, and our country.

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Ms Davis was a co-coordinator of the national day of action opposing the prorogation of Parliament in early 2010. In under three weeks over 200,000 Canadians joined a Facebook group called Canadians Against Proroguing Parliament (CAPP). Driven by a simple belief that a healthy democracy requires elected representatives to respect the founding principles of Parliament, Shilo helped coordinate over 50 rallies in Canada and six in cities around the world. Quite a remarkable feat for someone who had never organized a rally before!

Shilo called the date and time for January 23rd at 1pm because at first she thought it was only going to be one rally and it worked best with her busy class schedule. Sensing a groundswell of support she created anti-prorogation Facebook groups in big cities and small towns providing a coordinated platform for Canadians to come together and organize. She ended up taking two weeks off her classes at McMaster University and dedicated everything to the coordinating effort. With little fanfare and no pay she exemplified wha t nation bui lding requires: a simple belief that citizens working together can help improve our society, our democracy, and our country.

The anti-prorogation movement was a watershed moment for Canada. For the first time, citizens across the country organized themselves en masse harnessing the power of social media. But clicking a Facebook "like" button wasn't enough. This was a call to action and Canadians responded in kind; much to the surprise of many commentators.

For Shilo, and many fellow rally organizers, the abuse of prorogation wasn't about Left or Right, it was about right and wrong. When people now say, "prorogation" you immediately think, "public backlash." In a time when voter turnout is at an all-time low, this is a significant democratic achievement. In the years to come, any Prime Minster who considers using prorogation as a tool to evade the will of Parliament will now be forced to weigh the political cost. That's people power.

After the prorogation rallies she helped spearhead the creation of a democratic engagement group called Canadians Advocating Political Participation (CAPP). The stated goal is to educate and engage all Canadians in the democratic process. Since January CAPP Chapters have denounced civil liberty infringements during the G20, organized two non-partisan get-out-the-vote campaigns (New Brunswick Provincial & Toronto Municipal), and are currently throwing their weight behind a motion which seeks to make Question Period less hostile and more functional. While the volunteers come from a wide range of backgrounds, the mission and values of the group are non-partisan.

In one short year Shilo Davis, just 24 years of age, has helped to significantly improve Canadian democracy. In doing so she is helping to make Canada a better place.

Now that's Nation Building.

Sincerely submitted,

Glyn Lewis, Montreal

For more information on Shilo's role in the anti-prorogation coordinating effort .