Senate Page Protest Inappropriate

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THUNDER BAY – In the Senate today, Brigette Marcelle (aka Brigette DePape) stood up with a sign reading “Stop Harper”. The Senate Page was ejected from the Chamber by security guards. Demonstrating that her demonstration was well planned, she later issued a press statement.

“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,” she says. “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.”

“Harper’s agenda is disastrous for this country and for my generation,” Brigette Marcelle says. “We have to stop him from wasting billions on fighter jets, military bases, and corporate tax cuts while cutting social programs and destroying the climate. Most people in this country know what we need are green jobs, better medicare, and a healthy environment for future generations.”

Marcelle/Depape seems to be suggesting that the federal election doesn’t matter, and would prefer our democracy be overturned by protests in the streets.

By claiming that “3 out of 4 eligible voters didn’t give their support to the Conservatives”, this young lady is playing with numbers. One never can understand why voters who didn’t vote made that choice. Some could suggest they are happy with the status quo, or so upset with politics they don’t vote. We don’t know.  But to suggest their decision was one of opposition to the government is not accurate, because we don’t know the real reasons.

That magic number that sixty percent of the Canadians who did vote didn’t support the Conservatives seems to have become some kind of a rallying cry that the new majority Conservative Government will have to tread lightly. Federal Opposition Leader Jack Layton was expressing that view Thursday morning on the news.

If one were to take the same numbers, and apply them to the New Democrats, who are the Government in Waiting, then seventy per cent of Canadians, or 7 out of 10 Canadians do not want the New Democrats as their government.

Work those numbers a little more, and just over eighty per cent of Canadians don’t want the Liberals as their government either. It is unlikely however that those numbers will be reported much. However they are just as valid as the oft repeated claims that the Conservatives are still somehow do not have the support of a majority of Canadians. If the bar were set at fifty per cent for support, the fact would be that almost every MP can’t claim majority support.

That is simply a reality of our democratic system and of our first past the post means of voting.

Those who don’t like the system are always welcome to get involved to change it. That is perhaps the real beauty of our democracy, people can get involved in the political parties, and advocate for change.

The Senate Page, by taking her personal protest to the floor of the Senate has, likely diverted people from the real issues. She has also lost her job as a page.

Marcelle/DePape will generate her 15 minutes of media attention. The real issues remain, and the real work remains.

All this Senate Page did was create a short distraction.

One hopes Members of Parliament and Senators will focus on the important issues, and keep the dull roar of rhetoric to a minimum.

James Murray

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