8 thoughts on “Picture of the Day: “Stop Harper”

  1. Jim Falk

    How a person with your twisted ideology managed to get a position as a senate page is beyond comprehension.YOUR BEHAVIOR WAS RUDE,INAPPROPRIATE,ARROGANT,AND DECEITFUL.You must be proud of this immature effort to represent the next generation of political activists.Go back to school and prep yourself for the real world.One where good manners and appropriate actions are valued.

  2. Jonathan Allan

    This comment fascinates me because, in a way, it relates to an article I read earlier about what students should call professors, “Career Advice: Doctor, Professor or ‘Hey, You’?”: http://ow.ly/59iQj.

    When I was researching the article on Harold Bloom and Northrop Frye, what amazed me was that they both, though friendly, always spoke in terms of respect: “Dear Mr. Bloom” in 1961 and eventually “Dear Harold” in the late letters. Maybe this had a more profound effect, or maybe this was a nostalgic imagining of the university (where professors still ate at high table, taught in academic regalia, etc.); but the question of decorum or respect seems to be, at least in terms of the Career Advice article, a rather interesting source of anxiety. Even today, when I write to a professor, who is quite clearly my senior, I am anxious about calling them by their first name (even if they have told me to call them by their first name).

    Naturally, anxiety about what to call a professor and the page conducting a silent protest on the Senate Floor are not the same. But, what strikes me is how these questions are necessarily re-appearing: what is or is not appropriate?

  3. Veronica Abbass

    Dear Jim Falk

    I doubt Ms. DePape will read your message or reply if she does, so I would like to address a few of the points you make:

    Ms. DePape is living in the real world, “One where good manners and appropriate actions are [not necessarily] valued.” Her actions show she is following a proud tradition of protest, the kind of protest that causes change: women’s suffrage is one example.

    The words you use to describe Ms. DePape’s behaviour are sufficiently strong; you don’t need to use all caps. Messages in all caps are considered rude.

  4. Ray Pare

    Bravo Brigette Page! You have shown that there is hope in the youth of this country.You have expressed what we quiet Canadians are too polite to utter.The powers that be(USA /RELIGIOUS RIGHT/UNIONS/LOBBIES/PRESSURE GROUPS/BIG BUSINESS etc) are the real decision makers. Maybe one day we will rise and take control of our futures, like the Mid-East movements! Bravo again!

  5. Michael Happy Post author

    The divide here seems to be generational. No offence to Mr Fuld, but he sounds like an older gentleman who appears to have sought out an obscure location (that is, here) to YELL AT THE TOP OF HIS LUNGS about an act that is — given the conduct of this government, including two unprecedented findings of “contempt of parliament” — a relatively minor offence.

    Moreover, there is an important difference. Harper has power, and this young woman, Brigette DePape, has none. When Harper abuses parliament, there are significant consequences for the country. When, on the other hand, Brigette DePape conducts an act of civil disobedience (which has a long and significant history in our democratic tradition), there are only consequences for her. She has already lost her job and is now confronted with near-hysterical attacks by people who seem to be shouting into every nook and cranny where they think their angry voices will raise an echo. Jason Kenney, maybe the rudest and most aggressively mean-spirited parliamentarian beyond a succession of Duplessis administrations, within a couple of hours had publicly called Ms DePape a “lefty kook.” See the power differential? A light hand is all that is required here. Instead we get Kenney’s greasy fist to the face.

    It’s not just that Brigette DePape’s non-threatening protest is regarded as threateningly inappropriate to this government and, it appears, to many of the people who support it. It’s that dissent of any sort is regarded as an offence. The Harper government dismissed two findings of contempt of parliament as no more than a “procedural” anomaly; but the people who support it treat a peaceful protest by a young woman who will certainly pay for her actions as though it were in the same league as burning down the Reichstag. It’s that anger, that aggression, and that lack of perspective which really tell.

  6. Jonathan Allan

    As a member of DePape’s generation, I can understand the frustration, but I have to admit that I am not comfortable with the action. Was there not another way to express discontent with an election result? It is certainly true that a large portion of the population didn’t vote for Harper (an even larger portion didn’t even show up to vote!), but this is where we find ourselves. One cannot simply disrespect Parliament because Stephen Harper and the Conservatives were found in contempt — this is playing at the same level as Harper. The Liberals suffered a crushing defeat under the leadership of Michael Ignatieff (someone who apparently sought very little advice from his caucus or the party — and someone who already had a job lined up at U of T, something James Travers reported in the spring/summer of 2010: http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/article/835891–travers-u-of-t-offers-ignatieff-an-exit-plan?sms_ss=twitter&at_xt=4dc2f4387f6bd266,0), the NDP saw historic gains — I think this is something to focus on. It isn’t a matter of her protest being ‘non-threatening,’ it is a matter of the protest being appropriate. She had her moment in the limelight, she had her moment of free speech (which, of course, does not mean that one is not subject to consequence), and we are now spending more time talking about the protest than we are the actual Throne Speech, the direction of the Government and the country.

  7. Michael Happy Post author

    There were of course any number of other ways to express discontent, but this seems to be the one DePape chose because it would get this kind of focused attention. That’s what makes it an act of civil disobedience, and why its “non-threatening” nature matters. It’s why too Jason Kenney’s dismissal of her as a “lefty kook” is egregious. (Can you imagine the uproar if a Liberal or NDP cabinet minister had had the opportunity to dismiss the incident as the work of a “rightwing nutjob”?). DePape was a Senate page, which means she was accomplished and (likely) well-connected. This was someone with both standing and something to lose, and she knew there were going to be personal consequences. That is why civil disobedience enjoys a privileged place in our society — because it requires putting personal security and interests on the line. The fact that the right is treating it like a wanton act of vandalism by some hippie armed with a brick and a can of spray paint needs to have some cold water thrown on it.

    By the way, those who shout loudest about her “disrespect of parliament” seem most indifferent to Harper’s two guilty counts of “contempt of parliament.” The first is inconsequential to the integrity of the institution; the second goes to the heart of it. We need to maintain some perspective here.


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