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DePape Temper Tantrum: A Swing and a Miss

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As a card-carrying Conservative who voted Liberal (in vain) this past election, I have no intention of renewing my Conservative membership. My justification can be brought down to its common denominator: no matter how fiscally conservative I may be, there are certain values I am not willing to compromise. Thus, when the Conservatives were (democratically) elected to a majority government with the NDP as the official Opposition, I was indeed disappointed by the results.

Nevertheless, I am quite aware of the concept of a parliamentary democracy and how it works in Canada. Consequently, I would never make egregious statements indicting the Harper government of being undemocratic or not representing Canadian values, as recently-fired-turned-minor-celebrity Senate page, Brigette DePape did.

It would appear as though Ms. DePape's frustration and subsequent tantrum is not necessarily unwarranted as much as it is misplaced. Her dissatisfaction seems to lie with the Canadian electoral system itself.

By saying that Canadians need an Arab Spring type of uprising in order to counter Harper's policies is undermining the travesty of living in a country where the people do not have a say in electing their leaders. I don't think Ms. DePape realizes just how lucky she is to live in a country where she has the right to vote, has the opportunity to go to university and is allowed to voice political dissent. Arab Spring is about fighting for exactly what we in this country already have: a democracy.

However, it seems rather perplexing for an international development and globalization major to be so misinformed on the concept of democracy and how it works in this great country. In fact, if it is values and democracy that she is so very eager to be standing for, it seems to me (and probably anybody who passed grade 10 Canadian history) that perhaps Ms. DePape should have thought twice about taking a job with the slap in the face to democracy, otherwise known as our Senate, if she was so concerned with the issue of representation of Canadian values. Why was she not up in arms over the unelected Senate overturning Bill C-393, which was passed by the democratically elected House of Commons?

The answer seems to lie with the notion of 'Harper hyperbole.' You know, all the amped-up stories that go into feeding the idea of some sort of secret agenda being plotted behind the scenes of the Harper government. Although from what I can deduce, Harper and the Conservatives were very forthcoming about their platform during the election and I have yet to witness any curveballs being thrown to the Canadian public.

Introduction of an omnibus crime bill? Check. Abolition of the long-gun registry? Check. Phasing out direct public subsidies for political parties? Check. Senate reform? Check. All of these issues were on the forefront of the political conversation during the election and all of these issues were addressed in the throne speech. The Conservatives actually represented themselves quite fairly and accurately and no evidence of this alleged "secret agenda" can be found.

Conversely, if any political party has been less than obliging in their stance on certain key issues, one should be calling out Jack Layton and the NDP for the recent disregard of the Supreme Court decision Reference re Secession of Quebecand the Clarity Act. Yet somehow I do not foresee a gaggle of left-leaning university students protesting and expressing their dissatisfaction with the NDP and their haphazard stance on national unity.

Blindly defending one party and attacking another has become commonplace in Canadian politics. The left is often quick to conclude that Harper is some sort of mutant hybrid of Darth Vader and Voldemort, who lacks emotional intelligence and is ready to annex Canada as the 51st state of the USA; whereas the right is ready to paint Jack Layton as a modern-day Marxist who is ready to redistribute all of your hard-earned dollars to the crack dealer on the other side of the tracks. All Ms. DePape demonstrated is that she belongs to a long line of political radicals that are more devoted to polarizing politics than having a rational, mature discussion.

I may agree with her in that I do not feel that the Conservative party represents all of my values, but to say they do not represent Canadian values is simply false. This kind of political overreaction and exaggeration is common in the United States, as can be demonstrated via the many Republicans and right wing political pundits who make overstatements along the lines of needing to "take back" their America from a President that is not "their President."

Is this the kind of political melodrama Canadians want as part of their national discourse? If Canada isn't careful, our political landscape will start to look increasingly like our neighbours to the south, and the Canadian people will have nobody to blame but themselves.

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