June 7, 2011 by Dan Woynillowicz
I confess to being surprised at the amount of attention that Brigette DePape’s act of dissent has garnered in the days following the Speech from the Throne. While the initial attention was predictable (it did add some pizazz to an otherwise predictable throne speech), it is the volume of coverage from the commentariat and its predominantly vitriolic nature that caught me by surprise.
The Calgary Herald editorial board’s take on the matter was laughable in its exclamation that “DePape’s unprecedented move was disrespectful to our grand history and to Parliament itself” given their recent endorsement of a Conservative majority government led by a Prime Minister who has demonstrated more disrespect and contempt for Parliament then any other politician in Canada’s grand history.
But this isn’t to say that I don’t agree with some of the criticisms being leveled at DePape. For example, I’m sympathetic to the arguments put forward by the likes of the esteemed Ned Franks, but I think he missed the opportunity to link this incident to his own extensive observations on the decline of civility and respect for Parliament and Canada’s democratic institutions, exemplified by our so-called political leaders in recent years. Fortunately, Aaron Wherry astutely made this link in an amusing tweet:
Remember kids: If you want to grandstand, disrespect our institutions and say ridic things, you 1st need to get elected.
For all the criticism leveled at DePape, I think we owe it to ourselves to reflect upon the extent to which her behavior (or contempt, as some have described her actions) simply mirrors the decline of our politics and politicians. Rather than dismissing her outright, our political leaders would be well served by taking some time to contemplate whether her antics are a reflection of their own. As the father of a three-year old, some of my most significant lessons in parenting have come from observing my daughter mirroring my actions, and not liking what I see.