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Some people just don’t respect democracy, do they?

June 8, 2011

In 1995, I worked on the provincial election campaign for Mike Harris and the Progressive Conservatives. On the day after the election, I manned one of the two reception desks for a while to help answer the phones, which were pretty busy. The reception area was directly across from the elevators. At one point, the elevator doors opened, and out came a few scruffy-looking young people. They ran up to the other reception desk and snatched the small stack of the party’s election platform document (the Common Sense Revolution – perhaps you’ve heard of it?) that was on the desk, ran back into the elevator, and disappeared.

It struck me as weird, but I forgot about the incident until I was watching the news later that night. Lo and behold, the same scruffians who had pulled off the daring snatch-and-dash at our HQ had been captured by a news camera, setting fire to the platform documents they had stolen. Now, I don’t wish to be unfair to them, but I am guessing that they hadn’t read it first. Again, this was one day after the election.

Alas, this is the sort of thing that Canadian conservatives of
a certain age have become somewhat inured to. Whenever a conservative government is elected, or attempts to enact the promises it made to voters, its leaders, ministers and parliamentarians are compared to Hitler and portrayed as being bent on “destroying” education, health care, children, seniors, the disabled, and small pets. Ipso facto, they must be “stopped,” no matter how much rudeness, law-breaking, spectacle or street-clogging it takes.

These accusations are generally accompanied by paranoid implications that said conservative government has all the legitimacy of a military coup, because they are only a minority government, or garnered less than 50% of the popular vote. (Though I believe that both Bob Rae and Liberal Jean Chrétien squeaked out majorities with less than 40% of the vote.)

So when I heard about Senate Page Brigette DePape’s Code Pink style protest during the Throne Speech, I can’t say I was surprised. After all, it was earlier that very day that I spotted this charming graffito on a Bloor Street pedestrian underpass mere steps from my home.

(It doesn`t seem to matter how many times historians, veterans, or Holocaust survivors say that using the words Hitler, Nazi, and Holocaust to describe everything from George W. Bush to global warming is not only wildly disproportionate, but diminishes the evil of Hitler and insults the sacrifice and suffering of Nazism’s victims. (Like the protocols of Zion or Kennedy assassination conspiracy theories, these words captivate new recruits among the lazy or gullible in every generation.))

Ms. DePape is the natural result of two decades of government “education” and self-esteem building, which taught her that every thought she has is profound, and everyone else should have to listen to it. In her interview on CBC’s Power and Politics she also displayed the audacity and entitlement common to her generation, announcing in a chipper manner that she is looking for “employment opportunities.” Naturally, PSAC, the union of federal government workers, soon offered her one. Well, PSAC is certainly the right place for her.

This sort of thing keeps happening because the media rewards it, and conservatives rarely call its perpetrators on their rank hypocrisy and tantrum-like intolerance, the shorthand for which is: anyone in power who is not simpatico with
Brigette and her pals must be stopped by any means necessary, including vandalism, physical intimidation, and disrupting state occasions that they have been entrusted to support, not subvert.

What are workaday folks, who do not have the luxury or inclination to engage in such rule-breaking or vandalism, supposed to do in protest to such camera-friendly antics? How does one explain to the DePapes of the world that: (1) the people have spoken and (2) you’re not really a democrat if you don’t accept election results you don’t agree with? Generally, all their natures and upbringing will permit everyday people to do is vote or donate to the conservative party, and hope that their votes will be honoured.

Sometimes I wonder whether conservatives should get into the disruptive protest business, pulling up in our pick-ups and SUVs and blasting Carpenters and Barry Manilow at outdoor protests where people are demanding the “right” to more money from their neighbours. Or yanking some hippie’s guitar without warning and smashing it, a là John Belushi in “Animal House.” Oh, if only we were cool with disrupting other groups’ organized events, and trashing other people’s

There is sometimes wild talk, especially in the US, about these days resembling the time portrayed in Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, when government’s attempts to control the economy grew in size and reach, as their effectiveness steadily decreased. The eventual result, as in Rand’s working title for the novel, was the mother of all Strikes: productive and competent people eventually disappeared, leaving the country to collapse under the contradictions that could no longer be sustained without them.

But ex-page DePape and her ilk needn’t worry: such a movement is unlikely to take hold here, where the government and state-funded information and educational institutions are deeply entrenched and continually dispersing new platoons of DePapes.

Canada’s productive and competent will keep working, providing her and her soon-to-be brothers and sisters of PSAC with the opportunities and retirement that the education system and left-of-centre politicians have told them they deserve.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Joan Tintor permalink
    June 8, 2011 4:39 pm

    P.S. And thanks to the Sisyphites for publishing this on June 8, the 16th anniversary of Harris’ 1995 victory!

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