Brigette DePape -- who held up that Stop Harper sign during the last throne speech -- has greeted this week's throne speech with the scorn it deserves:
Prime Minister Stephen Harper is spending over a billion dollars on a Spy Castle made of shiny glass windows, the most expensive Canadian government building ever constructed. Meanwhile, he continues to cut services that the middle class values. Simply look at federal health cuts, which will total $36 billion over a decade.
She understands what is behind Harper's attempt to rebrand himself as Captain Consumer:
The government boasts of its consumer-first agenda, hoping to appeal to everyday folks. The effort to re-brand the public as consumers fits well with the neoliberal agenda Harper is aggressively pursuing. As my friend TJ Dawe pointed out, we are increasingly consumers when our social services are cut, because we have to buy them ourselves. It's convenient for the Harper agenda if we are just consumers -- if what we care about is how we spend the money in our own purse, not how the government spends our money.
But DePape is not merely grinding an axe. Where some might see gloom and despair, she sees healthy rebellion:
What I found most inspiring since Harper's last throne speech are people stepping into their power as not just consumers, but active decision-makers and influencers on the issues that matter most: young doctors standing up to Minister Joe Oliver after he tried to cut funding to refugee health care; families rising up with the Occupy movement, drawing attention to much-needed system change; and residents demanding a National Housing Strategy to end homelessness, Canada being one of the few countries without one.
I have to admit that there are times that I have despaired over public acceptance of the Harper agenda. But, if Depape is right -- and Frank Graves' latest poll seems to indicate that she's on to something -- then there may, indeed, be hope that the ancien regime is on its last legs.