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Canada Page Of Protest Livens Up Throne Speech

Jan 6, 2005
Metro-Vancouver, B.C., Canada
June 3, 2011
Page of protest livens up throne speech
Joanna Smith - The Star, Toronto

A protester holding a sign reading "Stop Harper" is led from
the room as Canada's Governor General David Johnston delivers
the Speech from the Throne June 3, 2011.


OTTAWA—A young woman who spent the past year working in a job coveted by politically minded university students nationwide decided to express her disillusionment with government by getting fired in a spectacular way.

Brigette DePape, 21, walked into the Senate chamber wearing the black bow tie and white gloves that were part of her page uniform with a handmade protest sign — a red stop sign emblazoned with the message “Stop Harper” and a cartoonish exclamation mark — tucked into her skirt.

“I was kind of nervous as I was walking down that I would trip or something like that, but everything went smoothly,” DePape told the Star in an interview on Friday.

This was no after-hours prank or photo shoot.

This was as Governor General David Johnston was delivering the Speech from the Throne.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper looked on as DePape stood silently with her sign, long brown braid thrown over her shoulder, for a few seconds before the sergeant-at-arms escorted her out of the room.

She was fired from her job around the same time she issued an emailed news release explaining her act of civil disobedience and her name — and “Stop Harper” message — became a trending topic on the social media site Twitter.

“Harper's agenda is disastrous for this country and for my generation,” DePape wrote in the professional-looking press release emailed to media while she was still being detained by parliamentary security.

“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,” DePape said in the release.

Senate Speaker Noël A. Kinsella said the incident was a contempt of Parliament and said security concerns would be looked into.
“All employees of the Senate are expected to serve the institution in a non-partisan manner, with competence, excellence, efficiency and objectivity,” Kinsella said in a statement. “The Senate has terminated the employee's contract effective immediately for breaching the terms and conditions of employment. The incident raises serious security concerns which the Senate will fully investigate.”

The recent graduate from the University of Ottawa, where she studied international development and globalization, was clearly ready for her time in the spotlight.

A friend scheduled media interviews and coached her on what to say when the questions seemed designed to make her go off her message track.

“She keeps asking me where did I make the sign?” DePape whispered to her friend, who told her to say she made it at home before the pair burst into schoolgirl giggles.

DePape said she had no regrets but acknowledged she had not yet talked to her parents about the incident.

“I did hear anecdotal evidence that my mom is proud of me,” said DePape, who is from Winnipeg, where she wrote and performed a one-woman show about a baton twirler suffering over unrequited love.

She initially gave her middle name, Marcelle, as her family name in the press release to prevent her family from finding out how her impressive internship had imploded.

Her former boss at the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives said DePape was opinionated but easy to work with.

“She's just very passionate about the issues that are important to her and we certainly saw that in her last summer, so I guess it doesn't entirely surprise me,” said Shauna MacKinnon, executive director at the Manitoba office.

“She's just very gutsy and very passionate and has a very different vision than the Stephen Harper vision and also someone who's probably disillusioned by the political process and so I guess she felt that this was something she needed to do.”

Senate spokeswoman Karen Schwinghamer confirmed DePape was fired but would provide no further comment on the “internal personnel matter.”

Parliamentary pages are taught a sense of respect for the institution where they work, and many have gone on to work in the political arena over the years, but DePape dismissed the suggestion that she had been disrespectful.

“I think what is more disrespectful and dangerous are Harper's policies,” DePape said.

source: http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/...-page-of-protest-livens-up-throne-speech?bn=1


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