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Korfmann: A Response to “The Fruits of Civil Disobedience”

June 24, 2011

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In response to “Zimmerman: The Fruits of Civil Disobedience

I would like to begin by saying that even if I do not agree with somebody, I respect their viewpoint and see it as a valid opinion; we are free to share our views in a democracy such asCanada. This is why when I read all of the posts and internet bloggers (because, let’s face it- these are the only ones that actually support her) praise Bridgette DePape and her “stop Harper” shenanigans, I shake my head in sheer frustration. Civil disobedience? Please. That is just a fancy way of saying “I don’t agree with the rules, so I won’t follow them”. This is disrespectful and a mockery of society. I completely understand that not everybody agrees with each other, and this too applies to the people of Canada not agreeing with the government’s views; but sneaking in a sign and interrupting the speech from the throne is just plain wrong. Especially since she was chosen, out of privilege to work inside the Senate, under the terms that she would follow the rules, and she didn’t.

My fellow columnist Mr. Zimmerman wrote of Stephen Harper’s “Agenda” as “disastrous for our (DePape’s) Generation”, and declared Jack Layton as “our man of the people”. He also pointed out that “about 75% of Canadians did not vote for (Stephen Harper)”. I would have to disagree here; a clear majority of those who did vote (nearly 40%), did so in support of the Conservative Party, with the NDP coming up second with just over 30% of the votes. I do recognize that there are people who did not vote for Mr. Harper, however there were MORE who did not vote for anyone else. I would not personally consider Mr. Layton a “man of the people” if I was comparing the number of people who did not vote for Mr. Harper to those that did. I would also certainly not do so if I then went ahead and compared Stephen Harper’s Conservative party platform with the actions of Nazi Germany deporting Jewish Bulgarians to concentration camps- especially when Mr. Layton (based on Mr. Zimmerman’s math) only received support from 13% of the country- certainly not a majority by any stretch. I’d say by those standards, Harper is more of a “man of the people”.

I do not care what your political beliefs are- it doesn’t matter if you are left, right or centre; if you draw connection to a democratically elected prime minister in a country known for its freedom and peacekeeping world-wide to the Nazi government deporting Jews to send to concentration camps, then there is something fundamentally wrong with your logic. “Civil Disobedience” or not, that is just plain wrong. Not only is this an insult to our system, it’s an insult to our people; to me and you.

I respect people’s opinions when they take to the streets and protest, and assemble in numbers to share their opinions, but when the rules of government are at play, and a leader has been elected through the rules, by a majority of people (compared to the other elected candidates), we have to respect that what the people want, may not always be what you yourself want. I know that if Mr. Harper truly was some sort of “dictator” that being in the country we are in, something similar to the Bulgarian situation in World War 2 would have certainly emerged. Until then however, I am pretty confident in saying that to think otherwise simply indicates a sore loss on the side of respect for society, other’s opinions, and the rules is at play. I would not use a privileged, trusted and respected job as a page to march into the centre of the Senate during its most important ceremony and protest if Mr. Layton was PM- I should hope the current opposition members show the same level of respect. There is nothing civil about disobeying rules that the majority of Canadians chose to follow and respect.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Alex Moldovan permalink
    June 25, 2011 12:21 am

    Friend, I have to say that people must be allowed to uphold their beliefs in defiance to the systematic injustice they see around them whether they are on the right or the wrong side of the law. I read your last article about CUPW and I think a little history lesson is in order. Back a few decades there was a CUPW leader named Jean Claude Parrot. CUPW, although being a union filled overwhelmingly by men opted to go on strike so that paid maternity leave would be recognized for all workplaces by the government’s Canada Labour Code. CUPW was eventually legislated back to work but he refused to tell his fellow unionist to go back to work. Eventually he was jailed and fined for the wildcat strike. Without his actions during that strike we as Canadians might not have gotten that concession for all workers from our government.

    Now what makes democracy so special is the will of the minority to stand up for what they believe is right even when they are standing alone. I think the spirit of what Zimmerman was saying is that we must respect the rights of the few which branch out to the rights of the many. I justify his juxtaposition of Harper to the Nazis in that the minority must speak out before dogmatism sets in and the situation is too dire and too late. Like it or not before DePape set in with her antics we would not be looking to policy alternatives as we would be now.

  2. June 25, 2011 1:50 am

    I’m more or less inclined to Jesse’s view on the matter of the importance of civil disobedience. There are times when the current standing order needs to be undermined, and civil disobedience really helps with that. Call be biased because India was a nation founded in part through civil disobedience, or that blacks were given full rights largely due to the illustration of injustice provided by such tactics. These tactics, however, don’t always work.

    However, Brigette DePape was still a lunatic, and all she really did was insult parliamentary tradition. She didn’t undermine the system. She just became the laughing stock of the entire nation. She was turned into a meme, photoshopped into everything. In fact, to have this be regarded as “civil disobedience” makes a mockery of mass, justified acts of civil disobedience itself.

    If making change truly was her concern, she could have looked beyond the short term kicks provided by holding a sign up. All she did was utter a few buzzwords about planes and the environment.

    Otherwise, laws are not absolute and should not be regarded as such, unless if the subject of the law is the state. This is why we have courts and legislatures to begin with. We should take a nuanced approach to everything, be it civil disobedience or upholding the law.

  3. June 25, 2011 1:51 am

    (Because freedom is always worth it) :P

  4. June 25, 2011 8:04 pm

    40% of the vote is not a clear majority. It is a plurality of the vote, which, in our electoral system, translates to a majority of seats.

  5. June 30, 2011 2:45 pm

    This is why we live in an archaic system that does not really represent the people. We must change this system…and stop ooh-ing and aww-ing over the Royal Family. They mean absolutely nothing!


  1. Korfmann: A Response to “The Fruits of Civil Disobedience” (via The Opposition) « Andreas

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