Monday, June 6, 2011

This is what democracy looks like

Although I normally reserve this blog for posts directly related to the film or the Montreal Massacre, leaving more tangentially related posts for the "December 6" facebook page, I have decided to make an exception.

As many readers probably know by now, on Friday, June 3rd, during Harper's Throne Speech, a young page by the name of Brigette DePape held up a sign saying "Stop Harper." Why am I making an exception for this action? Because, to be honest, I was losing the faith.

Confession time: Had I made "December 6" without collaborating with spoken word artist Evalyn Parry, it would have ended up being a cynical film reflecting on how little progress has been made towards women's equality in the past 20 years. I had been under the illusion that we had come further, until I did my research for the film. That research had left me rather depressed and without answers. And my encounters with some of the younger generation of so-called third wave feminists did little to improve my hopes. It is only thanks to Evalyn that the film ended up being optimistic and empowering. (My eternal thanks, Evalyn!)

On top of that, I've also been feeling depressed about Canadian politics and the apathy of Canadian voters (or lack of voters... only 61.4% of eligible voters bothered to exercise their voting rights). The Harper majority felt like the nail in our political coffin. Conservatives won 54.2% of the seats with only 39.6% per cent of the votes, one of the least legitimate majorities in Canadian history. Yet Harper keeps referring to his "majority mandate." Even having a minority government failed to keep Harper's Conservatives accountable. I worry about what happens now that they have a majority.

Cynicism, depression and mounting frustration at the apparent inability to affect change are not things I like to admit to, but things I've been feeling nonetheless.

Then along comes a 21-year-old woman, a member of a supposedly apathetic generation, who is a talented performance artist (see video below) with a degree in international development and globalization from the University of Ottawa. A young woman willing to give up her a highly coveted job as a Senate page to make a statement that Canada could not ignore. And her quiet act of civil disobedience has gone viral. Many people have been claiming that her action was inappropriate, that she had been disrespectful of Parliament, but I beg to differ. And, amazingly to me, a vast number of Canadians (and even people beyond our borders) have also disagreed, staunchly defending the "little page that could... and did."

So thank you, Brigette DePape, for keeping the faith. And for restoring mine.

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