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REPORT: Thinking Outside the Ballot Box, Brigette DePape

DePape and Barlow

DePape and Barlow

Today, the Council of Canadians launched Brigette DePape’s report ‘Thinking Outside the Ballot Box: How People Power Can Stop the Harper Agenda and Create Fundamental Change‘. The engaging 24-page report can be read here and is being posted in segments on The first chapter can be read here.

In her report, DePape writes, “When a government’s agenda does not reflect the true values of its people – as is the case with the Harper government – it is up to every one of us to act to stop it. As Henry David Thoreau explained in his classic 1849 text titled Civil Disobedience, people have a duty not to permit their governments to overrule their consciences, and to not stand by while government makes them agents of injustice. As citizens of Canada during the Harper majority, we are agents of injustice so long as we are silent.”

The Council shares the view that the Harper government is one of the least legitimate majority governments in Canadian history. With just 39.62 per cent of the votes in the May 2011 election, the Conservatives now hold 54.22 per cent of the seats in the House of Commons. If the seats were won in proportion to the votes cast, they would have 122 seats, that’s 45 fewer seats and not a parliamentary majority. On specific issue polling, it is clear that the Harper government does not reflect the wishes of the Canadian public.

This past June, we applauded the courageous action of 21-year-old Senate page Brigette DePape, who held a ‘Stop Harper’ sign during the Governor-General’s reading of the Throne Speech on Friday June 3 and lost her job for doing so. Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow spoke with her that Saturday, offered her our solidarity, and later that week we agreed to support the writing of this report.

In August, Barlow, climate justice campaigner Andrea Harden-Donahue and chapter activists were in Washington, DC supporting the non-violent direct action sit-in near the White House calling on US President Barack Obama to reject the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

Tomorrow evening, Barlow will be speaking in Courtenay, in the Comox Valley of British Columbia, at the invitation of the Peaceful Direct Action Coalition (which includes our Comox Valley chapter). As noted in the local newspaper, “The coalition’s main purpose is to educate the Comox Valley public on its rights and responsibilities in relation to peaceful protest and peaceful direct action. Their stated goal is to mobilize hundreds of Comox Valley citizens to relearn that peaceful direct action is a fundamental democratic right.”

And this coming Monday, the Council of Canadians will participate in a large non-violent civil disobedience action on Parliament Hill calling on the Harper government to stop the destruction of the northern Alberta tar sands. The action will include Indigenous leaders and representatives, including those from communities impacted by tar sands operations, people from across Canada, non-governmental organizations, and labour – notably the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers union, the union that represents tar sands workers.

For campaign blogs related to Brigette DePape, please go to, and