Senate page's protest forces security review
A Senate page who used last week's throne speech to protest Prime Minister Stephen Harper's agenda has forced a review of Senate security and page hiring, the head of an internal Senate committee said Tuesday.
David Tkachuk, a Saskatchewan senator who chairs the internal economy, budgets and administration committee, said the committee's now looking at implications for Senate security and page hiring practices after Brigette DePape whipped out a "Stop Harper" sign in the middle of Gov. Gen. David Johnston's speech Friday, one of the most formal ceremonies on Parliament Hill.
DePape was immediately fired and has been barred from Parliament Hill, Tkachuk said.
"We are taking this incident very seriously," he said. "We will be looking into the hiring practices for pages, including the background checks that are done related to those. I pray that no one else here assisted her in this stunt.
"I don’t have to tell you what would have happened if she had something else inside her jacket instead of a poster," he added.
Senate pages are university students hired for one or two years to provide support in the Senate chamber and in committees. The job involves menial tasks such as fetching water and passing notes between senators, but gives the students an inside look at how Parliament functions.
The pages swear an oath to the Queen and are required to be non-partisan while they're working, though they're usually politically engaged or interested in systems of government.
"All of us here should be offended by what she did. We expect — in fact demand — that our pages behave in a neutral fashion," Tkachuk said.
"That is the only way the program can work. They are allowed to have political opinions. In fact, I hope they all do. But for the duration of their time as pages those opinions, those leanings are to be left outside this chamber."
Tkachuk said the senators were surprised when she walked into the middle of the chamber. Because they knew she was a page, they assumed she was there to assist someone, he said.
"Brigitte dishonoured her fellow pages," Tkachuk said. "She sullied the page program itself. She betrayed those who put their trust in her and she insulted this institution."