“This country needs a Canadian version of an Arab spring, a flowering of popular movements that demonstrate that real power to change things lies not with Harper but in the hands of the people, when we act together in our streets, neighbourhoods and workplaces,” (Brigette DePape, in her press release following her removal from the Canadian Senate during the Throne Speech reading by the Governor General.)
What is so exciting about this story (see previous blog, "STOP HARPER," acorncentreblog.com June 4, 2011) is that a Canadian student in international and foreign development at the University of Ottawa, has pricked the bubble of the "establishment" in Ottawa with a political protest of a so-typically Canadian variety.
She had worked in the Senate as a page for a year, and thereby had both the "uniform" and the knowledge of when and how to appear to make her statement. There was no violence; there was no upheaval; there was only a lone person, without opening her mouth, simply carrying a red cardboard cut in the shape of a "stop" sign, with two words, "STOP HARPER" on it. Of course, at that very moment, the Governor General was reading the Speech from the Throne to both houses of parliament, in the Red Chamber, the Canadian Senate.
Seeking to abolish the Senate and first to set term limits on Senators who may be elected, the Harper government seems more interested in placing its imprint on the structure of the government, along with an increase in the number of Members of Parliament in at least three provinces: Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia.(Notably missing from the list is Quebec, which many believe, has, for 75 years, held a traditional 25% of the seats in the Commons, and would therefore be entitled to an increase in M.P.'s as well.)
None of this manoevring will do anything to make M.P.'s more active, or more relevant or more instrumental in the political process. Together, they will merely add to (or subtract from) the superficial structures. Control will remain in the Prime Minster's Office. The purchase and building of millions of dollars of new prison cells, and the purchase of billions of dollars of new F-35 Fighter Jets will take place, as the Commons will dutifully rise, individually and on command, (at least in the Conservative caucus) to cast votes to accomplish those goals.
There is apparently enough public funds available for such expenditures, while we are also told that four of the top scholars at the National Art Gallery have been declared redundant, in order to save some $400,000 annually. Does anyone really wonder if the Philistines are in charge in Ottawa?
In the budget, buried the details, thereby obviating a public debate, will be a line removing the public subsidy from all political parties. And the marching band of Conservatives will, again, rise, individually and sequentially, to confirm the government's (really Harper's) will.
Civil servants who speak out against government policy will be terminated, or forced to offer their resignations. As the leader of th eGreen Party, Elizabeth May, reminds us, there is not a single line in the Throne Speech about environmental protection, so Canada will continue to fall in stature on the world stage through both a failure to act and a failure to fulfil commitments already made on the environment.
So, without going very far into the government's plans, it is quite easy to see Ms DePape's disenchantment, disaffection and disillusionment with the current government. And she speaks for more than just those Canadians who are under thirty, considered the "youth vote". She speaks for many, rational, even seasoned observers like this scribe.
And at the acorncentreblog.com, we would like to congratulate Ms DePape for her courage, her leadership, her compassion and her vision...and her sacrifice in being fired from her position as "page" a job which would have ended in three weeks without her miniature drama in the "red chamber".