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Parliamentary Page Holds Up “Stop Harper” Sign During Throne Speech

Parliamentary Page Holds Up “Stop Harper” Sign During Throne Speech

On Friday, June 3, 2011, as Governor General David Johnston read the Speech from the Throne, outlining Stephen Harper’s majority conservative government’s priorities for the next session of Parliament, a parliamentary page held a bold silent protest. Brigette DePape, a recent graduate of the University of Ottawa who had been working for the Senate for a year, stood in the middle of the Parliament’s floor and held up a sign that said “STOP HARPER” (picture here from the Globe and Mail). She was promptly escorted out of the Parliament and fired from her job.

A History of Activism

Ms. DePape is not new to political activism and protests. According to the Globe and Mail, she participated in the G20 demonstrations in Toronto last summer, where she and “a dozen fellow demonstrators linked arms and sat in a semi-circle in front of riot police in a bid to ensure police did not move forward and attack the rear of a column of demonstrators who were marching away.”

DePape also performed a play she wrote called “She Rules With Iron Stix” at TEDx YouthOttawa. Her bio for that event gives some insight into her background and outlook.

A playwright since the age of 15, and a third year international development student who has contributed to sustainable development projects in Senegal and Bosnia, DePape explores the possibility of new worlds: changing our actual world through activism vs. creating new worlds through fiction. She attempts to reconcile responsibility and creativity, suggesting that plays can be a powerful tool for cultural change.

Canadian Version of Arab Spring?

According to rabble.ca, DePape believes that working within Parliament will not help stop Harper from implementing his agenda. She explained her reasons for the protest:

Contrary to Harper’s rhetoric, Conservative values are not in fact Canadian values. How could they be when 3 out of 4 eligible voters didn’t even give their support to the Conservatives? But we will only be able to stop Harper’s agenda if people of all ages and from all walks of life engage in creative actions and civil disobediance.

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.

Support from Many Corners, Including Michael Moore

Many Canadians are applauding DePape for her actions and several Facebook pages supporting her already have thousands of “likes.”  The Council Of Canadians, a prominent social justice organization led by activist Maude Barlow, spoke out in support of DePape.

American filmmaker Michael Moore has become one of DePape’s most prominent supporters. According to the CBC, he said: “I think that Canada and Canadians probably need to put aside the full respect thing and bring out their inner hockey stick and get to work on preventing their government from turning into a version of ours.” Moore also offered DePape a job.

Not everyone is as complimentary though. The conservative Calgary Herald criticized DePape’s actions in its editorial Wrong place, wrong time, saying that “DePape’s unprecedented move was disrespectful to our grand history and to Parliament itself.” They further argued “[t]hat she called on Canadians to rise up like oppressed Arab Spring protesters, who are being shot daily by their governments, is further indication of her lack of judgment.”

“Stop Harper” Protest Planned for Friday

The CBC also reported that a “Stop Harper” protest has been planned for June 10 on Parliament Hill.

What do you think? Was DePape’s protest a bold and intelligent move or disresptful and lacking in judgment?

Related stories:

Canada Has Voted and It Isn’t Pretty: Conservative Majority

Toronto Exceeded Constitutional Police Powers During G20 Summit

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Annie blogs about the art and science of parenting at the PhD in Parenting blog.

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32 comments

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8:24AM PDT on Jun 11, 2011

I applaud Ms. Depape. There are so many examples of mr Harper acting against the interests of the Canadian people. For example, Harper's North American Perimeter Agreement was signed without going through question period. This suggests to me that mr Harper knew that he would not be acting in the interests of the Canadian people. Doesn't that fit the definition of treason? What possible advantage to Canadians is allowing the U.S. military to waltz in anytime they like? When was the last time the U.S. military left a country they occupied? They tend to stay and meddle. If you carefully read Obama's statement about friends and neighbors on this matter, he alludes to the following ever so subtly. At some point the U.S. situation will be so desperate that they will just start taking our natural resources without asking. The NAPA will make it that much easier for them. I'd like to know if mr. Harper would have been tried for treason if this was 100 years ago.
@ Nancy Roussy, I agree with your sentiment that the people who voted tory should feel embarrassed by their ignorance of Mr Harper's dirty deeds, but we need them to stand up and complain too if we are going to get rid of him.

12:29PM PDT on Jun 9, 2011

Brigette DePape for Prime Minister!

11:27AM PDT on Jun 8, 2011

Tom Y THINKS he speaks for Canadians...really? where is this list of supporters Tom? Harper is a douche!

10:37PM PDT on Jun 7, 2011

You go girl! I couldn't have said it better myself.

9:44PM PDT on Jun 7, 2011

Brigette dePape is definitely behind the times! Bush Derangement Syndrome is old, old, old now, and Stephen Harper is a whole different person -- not that Bush-bashers want to acknowledge obvious facts. They just want to continue their unattractive war. Something about the moral stance they think they've got.

No, Canadians are not behind her. Aside from the disproportionately noisy left, which remain small in numbers compared to the rest of us, Canadians want a competent government that'll largely stay out of our way as we conduct our lives. Team Harper offered us that as we went into the election, and we're holding him to it with OUR vote of confidence: it punished the Opposition and gave Harper cart blanche to bring back the fiscal sanity that was compromised during the recession. The Left, along with its miserable point girl, just wants conflict. How are you going to get an Arab Spring in a free and prosperous country? The girl doesn't think! Booting this negative emoter was the right move.

Now why is Michael Moore horning his bulbous form into Canada's internal affairs? Watch the Canadian documentary "Manufacturing Dissent" to get a hard look at Moore's true character. What will Brigette do once he gets bored with her and stops returning her calls?

8:38PM PDT on Jun 7, 2011

Harper, a.k.a. the wimp, is NOT to be trusted. He does not represent Canadians nor care about them. He caters to the rich and that's basically what it's all about.

2:01PM PDT on Jun 7, 2011

Who says that Canadians are too polite to protest anything? Bravo Brigette!!

1:21PM PDT on Jun 7, 2011

Too bad they didn't "fire" Harper for his contempt of Parliament, that was way worse than what this BRAVE girl did. And we have no faith in our youth....hopefully, this will start something positive towards change. Past member, aren't you finished shovelling the dirt on your coffin yet?

1:16PM PDT on Jun 7, 2011

She should run against Harper in the next election, I will definately vote for her.

1:14PM PDT on Jun 7, 2011

Brigette DePape said what a lot of people are thinking. Although Stephen Harper's Conservatives won a majority vote, they did it with less than 40% of the vote. Now they say the Canadian people gave them a mandate to implement their policies. Yet, opinion polls show the majority of
Canadian people are still opposed to Harper's policies.

While Stephen Harper has a right to implement many of his policies, he must also learn he has a responsibility to listen to the people-- and sadly, he feels this is not necessary.

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