Pick your cause — democracy, seal slaughter, oilsands, safe-injection site, saving Jordan River or medical cannabis.

All were represented yesterday at a diverse demonstration at the legislature, where about 300 protesters chanted and waved placards, hoping to briefly catch the eye of Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Security was not as heavy as some had expected, with only a handful of police keeping watch over the protest.

However, demonstrators had no chance of getting close to Harper as he was whisked away in a motorcade while they lined the driveway chanting “Democracy Now” and “Whose house? Our house.”

The protest was spearheaded by the Victoria chapter of Canadians Against Proroguing Parliament with the aim of showing Harper that Canadians are angry about his decision to suspend democracy, said organizer Melissa Farrance.

“We want to show him the way back to Parliament so he can get back to work,” she said.

Kristina King, 19, told the crowd Harper prorogued Parliament to avoid dealing with issues such as the federal government’s poor performance at climate-change talks in Copenhagen and evidence that government knew about torture of Afghan detainees.

“When the going gets tough, the tough get going and, boy, did Mr. Harper ever get going — all the way to Victoria,” she said.

Placards included Pro-rogies in Your Mouth, Not in Parliament, Get Back to Work Gary Lunn, No Rogue, We Are Not Sheep and the Reign of Error Must End.

One placard said simply “Harper You Suck.”

Judy McLaren of North Saanich said she’s fearful for the fate of democracy under Harper. “I think that, left to his own devices, Stephen Harper is going to take this country down a very, very different path.”

Professional puppeteers Nelly Scott and Cassandra Buunk were dressed as a combination of “worm creatures or eyeballs,” in converted children’s play tubes.

“We are keeping a watch on Stephen Harper while he’s on his nice shmoozy vacation,” said Scott.

Earlier in the day, in an emotional plea to Harper from the legislature steps, Penelakut First Nation Chief Lisa Shaver asked for a public inquiry into murdered and missing First Nations women across Canada.

More than 3,000 women have gone missing since 1970, but only 520 are officially recognized and most cases have not been properly investigated, said Shaver, speaking on behalf of the B.C. All Chiefs Task Force.

“This is unacceptable,” she said. “Far too many of us have lost loved ones due to murder and suicide.”

The 3,000 number was compiled from information given by First Nations across Canada, said Cliff Atleo, Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council president.

The Harper government needs to address not only the missing women, but other problems faced by aboriginal families, such as poverty and high rates of violence, Atleo said.

“We are hurting because of indifference by every level of government,” he said. “There’s a distinct racist attitude to our people.”

http://www.timescolonist.com/news/Harper+speech+draws+protesters/2554319/story.html#ixzz0fLRbNMVf

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