Take This Job And...

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During the Throne Speech, held to usher in the new government, Senate page Brigitte DePape decided that she couldn’t support the system that she was working for. In a significant breach of senate decorum, she held up a sign that said “Stop Harper”. Officials appropriately led her out of the chamber and terminated her appointment.

To hear some Conservative commentators talk about it, it was as though she was a raving looney who scarily managed to sneak past security. She’s been criticized from several quarters for showing contempt towards parliament.

Well, she probably did. And she faced the consequences. And, by all accounts, she knew there would be consequences and accepted them. I’ve heard no bleating from her that she’s been treated unfairly, and as protests go, this one was pretty quiet. So, while I might not fully agree with what she did, I can’t help but respect the manner in which she did it. In terms of the long term damage she may have done to her career, that’s between her and her references (though I frankly doubt that she’s hurting).

Ultimately, what Brigitte DePape did was write her own letter of resignation, and quit her job in a very public fashion. Of course that’s disruptive and controversial, but at least she maintained the courage of her convictions. And she’s far from the only person to ever thumb her nose at the system by quitting. Ever heard of the song “Take this Job and Shove it”? What do you think they’re singing about? Working class men who have stuck it to the Man and quit their job in such fashion have become folk heroes. Brigitte DePape does much the same thing, and suddenly she’s a “spoiled child”. Anybody see a double-standard, here?

Again, even if were in a similar situation to Ms. DePape, I doubt I would have done what she did. But whatever my situation, should I have to choose between keeping my head down, or standing up for my beliefs where they maybe controversial or unpopular, I should hope to have half of the bravery that Ms. DePape showed this past week.

P.S. Thinking over the line “between her and her references”, I have to ask myself, would I hire Brigitte DePape if I had the opportunity? I guess that depends. If there was any likelihood that — if we’d have such a falling out — that she’d have an opportunity publicly embarrass the company, I’m not sure if I would. However, if I felt that we were on the same page, I’d know at least that I’d be hiring a bright and courageous young woman willing to give her all in the causes she believes in. For many agencies, they could ask for no better workers than that.

I doubt we’ve heard the last of Ms. DePape. Indeed, if I may be so bold, I predict we’ll see her in parliament as an MP within the next twenty years. She has much the same passion that Elizabeth May showed when she was DePape’s age, and we know what happened to May. Besides, the gods of irony would smile.

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