Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Real Crime of Brigette DePape

Oh.My.Godzilla. Where's Barney when we need him? It seems the right-wingers in this country can't stop lumbering after Brigette DePape.

When they're not bellowing "Canada is not EGYPT !!!!!!" they're calling her a political extremist.

DePape repeatedly talked about stopping, what she termed, the "Harper Agenda." She called for Canadians to engage in civil disobedience, going so far as to claim Canada needs an "Arab Spring" and comparing the situation to the Civil Rights Movement.

Regardless of where one stands on the policies of the Conservative government, it is clear that this sort of talk is at best hyperbolic and at worst offensive. The way the protesters spoke, it's almost as if the Harper government is planning to shred the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Yet there are people, mostly young Canadians, who agree with these sentiments.

Or just young and dumb.

As if there wasn't a Harper Agenda, as if his regime hadn't already begun shredding the  Charter of Rights, as if he hadn't acted like a dictator by treating Parliament with contempt.

As if she ever said Canada was Egypt:

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.

Instead of just calling on progressives to organize, restrain Harper from dismantling our country with just 39 percent support, and unite to eventually defeat him.

As if her only real crime, apart from shocking those Con porkers in the Senate, wasn't daring to speak truth to power in a country where too many Canadians don't want to hear it.

By my observations, most Canadians are afraid to speak up, and many find the very act of speaking up distasteful. A common sentiment is that public protesters are objects of ridicule and disgust, and that they need to be controlled. Order is valued above all, at almost any cost.

In that context, DePape's actions were heroic. In a society where people are even afraid to ask their employer for a raise, DePape stood up – alone – and spoke truth to power. She knew her protest would have grave consequences, but she did it anyway, and in an elegant and peaceful way.

A country where those who attack her are the real threat to democracy:

Calling a country a democracy does not make it so. In a healthy democracy, great masses of votes are not wiped out when voters happen to be the minority voice in their geographic location. In a healthy democracy, people are not afraid to protest. In a healthy democracy, people do not express horror and anguish at the sight of a young woman holding a sign.

So I agree with him.

Because when Jason Kenney calls you a kook you know you are doing the right thing eh?

And because NOTHING could be dumber than thinking that a man who walks like a dictator, and quacks like a dictator, couldn't act even more like a dictator now that he has a majority.

Yup. Those right wingers can bellow like dinosaurs, but in a country where complacency is eroding our democracy, Brigette DePape is an excellent example for young AND old progressives.

And my newest Canadian hero...


  1. Anonymous11:39 PM

    After that utterly shameful election campaign, what Brigitte did unfortunately is what a whole lot of other people should have been doing at every single stop on that campaign. Not one person really held Harper or any other of his bigot clan's feet to the fire. If ever there was a missed opportunity, it was that, and that I feel is the real lesson to be learned here. Brave act, too little, too late and by too few people. Me included.
    BC Waterboy

  2. How can a 20-second, silent, elegant protest be so offensive to the right? Because conservatives understand the importance of iconic images and media-stopping messaging. I wish the rest on the left understood this and not just Brigette DePape.

  3. Absolutely beautiful essay, perfect, thanks so much.

  4. hi BC Waterboy...yes I agree the last election campaign had a host of missed opportunities. But thanks to Brigette and her supporters I'm actually optimistic about the next four years. By standing up in the Senate DePape has helped set the tone for resistance to the Harper regime.
    As I said in my post, thanks to the archaic FPTP system the Cons have earned the right to govern. But they don't have a mandate to dismantle this country, and if they try they will face the wrath of the Canadian people...

  5. hi Jymn...I agree with you completely when it comes to the power of symbolic protest. We need to become more media savvy if we hope to get the message across in a distracted and complacenmt society like ours...

  6. hi Maximilian...thanks...I'm glad you liked the post. My hope is that Brigette will inspire progressives to stand up for what they believe in, and by working together will help make a winning merger or coalition possible.
    For it remains the only way to ensure that the Cons are eventually defeated...

  7. The real reason they hater her is because she's shown them up for what they are.

    There's a small part in the back of their tiny brains that grasps that they have dragged Canadian democracy down so far that she felt justified in violating her obligation to be non-partisan.

    For the harpercons, Canadian democracy is a system to be gamed for partisan self-interest, not something to respect for its own sake.

    They realize they have no right to criticize her, and embarrassed and ashamed, they attack her all the more.

  8. Hi Simon. My mother came to Canada from Germany some ten years after WWII, in her mid-twenties. Her father had been an officer in both wars, and so was a Nazi by default (in fact, the family helped some Jews get out early on, and my mom married a Jew in Montreal). I mention this only to signal her credibility when she told me that Harper seemed to her nothing less than a real old-time Party member -- not necessarily a camp commandant, I inferred, but an enthusiastic supporter and willing front-man. She spoke specifically of his secrectiveness, and his contemptuousness (now officially confirmed, of course, if shrugged off contemptuously).

    I chatted with someone on a train once, whose mother was a Holocaust survivor and strongly supported Harper's policy on Israel. While I personally disagree with this Conservative position (and just about every other one -- although I do think there's subtle but deep antisemitism in much criticism of Israel), I told her I could certainly understand and sympathize with her mother's feelings. But when I shared my mom's description of what one might call Harper's "natural fascism", the conversation went silent. Neither of us knew what to say after that.

    I'm writing to you now (for the first time, although I've lurked and cheered for a while) because your reference to our dear dictator gave me a chance to share that story. Also, because I am moved by your views on the value of symbolic protest for social change, and by your passion for justice, and because I find your analysis of our (my) Canadian silence compelling. So I just wanted to thank you.


  9. hi Thwap...yes they certainly do hate her, but of course if I was Brigette I would consider that an honour. Because when those porkers hate you KNOW you are doing something right. And are definitely on the right side of history. I will be eternally grateful that Brigette turned up to cheer us all up just when we needed it.
    BTW I see that the word "Harper" is turning up on STOP signs all over the country, so the word is definitely spreading... ;)

  10. Hi Michael...thanks for that nice comment and that interesting story.
    I wouldn't call Harper a Nazi because to do that would be to degrade the word, and the horror it stands for. What I do see in Harper is a man with an authoritarian and bullying streak, who believes that he owns the truth, and has shown over and over again that he holds our Parliament and other Canadian institutions in contempt. So I have no problem calling him a wouldbe tyrant with fascist tendencies, and that's enough to give me nightmares... ;)