Canadian Senator Tkachuk’s emotional ‘extrapolation’ at the end of his speech that the page, Brigette DePape, who held the sign ‘Stop Harper’, could have had something more sinister is typical of those who appear to be more concerned with appearances of democracy than with its reality.
It’s also what propaganda critics call a ‘logical fallacy’ or an ‘unwarranted extrapolation’ (http://www.propagandacritic.com/).
Of course, the Senator, like so many members of our elites (senators, senior civil servants, corporate executives), seem to forget that a democracy is never complete, that it is always in process, because it is a process. That is the very essence of democracy – it is in the process – of arriving at decisions or decision-making – or it is nothing at all.
Of course, this contradicts the media, business and political elites who always call for ‘strong leadership’ (and hence ‘majority governments’ or ‘dictators’, whether benign or not). Why do they want ‘strong leadership’?
Simply, it is because they fear, even despise, democracy. Not the democracy of ritual, of the opening of the House of Commons or the visit of a foreign dignitary, but the messy process of democracy as the process of decision-making. They must know that most people, relying on their own common sense, would probably reject most of the policies and ideas from which the corporate elites benefit, if those ideas were presented clearly and openly (rather than through a mask of deceitfulness – or PR).
Yet, Harper and Flaherty continue to believe in ‘free market fundamentalism’, despite 30+ years of systematic policies of de-regulation, outsourcing, privatization and de-certification of unions in the UK, USA and Canada, as well as elsewhere, which show that the gap, not only between rich and poor, but between the rich and the middle classes, is greater than it has ever been (at least since the 1920s). Unless, of course, that is their objective.
What the Conservative senator Tkachuk is angry about, is that Brigitte DePape’s action upstaged the somnambulant ritual that would’ve allowed the corporate media establishment to carry on mouthing Tory frames about the budget being the same as the March budget.
Instead, people have taken some notice at least – and not necessarily in the way that Harper and Flaherty would’ve hoped they would.
Brigette DePape is one young woman, who was courageous enough to risk going against the social norms and rituals of the Canadian elite, and who sought out a way to represent others, whose voices have not been heard, risking the opprobrium of all those around her as well as a good job, to give a voice to those whose needs and concerns remain unanswered by Harper et al.
So, when I read comments like those of Senator David Tkachuk, I remember that those who fought and struggled for democracy were often criticised for ‘sullying’ or ‘betraying’ the rituals and traditions of a various : ‘Brigette dishonoured her fellow Pages. She sullied the Page program itself. She betrayed those who put their trust in her. And she insulted this institution.’
But, we could easily say the same about how Harper and many Conservative MPs have operated in Parliament have done much the same? Didn’t a Commons committee recommend that he and his government be found in contempt of Parliament? Oh, but that is not ‘sullying’ the ritual? But, calling opposition MPs ‘Taliban sympathizers’ is not ‘insulting’? Appointing defeated political candidates, who were rejected at the ballot box by Canadians, to lucrative Senate positions (and the pensions that go with them) is not part of ‘sullying’ process? What about the Conservative Party manual of 200-odd pages, which provided help for Tory MPs to stop parliamentary committees from functioning when things weren’t going their way (during the first Conservative minority government), and ‘pro-roguing of Parliament, the use of taxpayer-funded mailouts to propagandize and attack others, and so on?
No, if anything, Brigette DePape’s simple, dignified act has done more to re-energize young Canadians to believe that maybe their voices, their actions, might be heard, might count. (This is especially important because of the brutal treatment of Canadians (of all ages) by police at the G20 in Toronto last year.)