Stop! In the name of ‘Gov’

By Gauntlet Editorial Board

Brigette DePape’s protest during Friday’s Speech from the Throne has drawn a good deal of discussion across the country — too much, some say, calling it merely a publicity stunt for herself. As the speech was being read to the Senate on June 3rd, the 21-year-old who had been a senatorial page since last August stood in silence in the centre of the senate floor holding a mock stop-sign that read “Stop Harper!” DePape was promptly removed both from the senate chamber and her post as a senatorial page. Such a stunt, although surprising, has been a longtime coming.

The federal election earlier this year was similar to past elections in that youth were effectively ignored. Sooner or later, a young person hoping to make a difference would tire of not getting anywhere and, with nowhere else to turn, would do something to attract some attention. There’s reason to hope others don’t follow her lead — the Senate still has to do whatever it does when not listening to speeches from the governor-general. But DePape is not alone among young people fed up with disrespect from the political community.

One ought to be careful conferring praise onto DePape. Anyone recognized by Michael Moore after a political stunt, as DePape has been, should be lauded cautiously. Nevertheless, we feel strongly that DePape’s protest, whether liked or not, is indicative of a significantly high and ubiquitous level of disrespect and ill-treatment of Canada’s young adults by its own government. Telling are the words of the bloated-bureaucrat Jason Kenney — Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism and Member of Parliament for Calgary Southeast — who, rather than giving the situation a fair assessment, dismissed DePape as a “lefty kook.”

For our generation, being young in Canada has meant being disrespected. It has meant living under governments not interested in providing resources vital for growth, safety or learning. Governments have failed to establish any policies to fix the high youth unemployment rate. For those of us from Alberta, growing up meant bearing an education system decimated by Klein-era cutbacks. For all Canadian youth it has meant feeling utterly powerless and voiceless in the face of Chretien’s draining and drawn out domination. And now it means dealing with a Conservative government who, in the recent election, alienated many university students in their attack on on-campus voting, have cut arts funding and then reappropriated it for military spending and whose 54 per cent majority seat power comes from only 39.6 per cent electoral support. Further still, the party has consistently pandered to middle-aged wealthy white men. You do not need to be a ‘lefty-kook’ to be capable of realizing that the voice of Canadian young adults has not been heard — and at a time when it is needed more than ever.

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