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Celebrity and controversy surround Parliament's rogue page

Brigette DePape, the rogue page, missed her convocation ceremony Sunday at the University of Ottawa because she was too busy doing media interviews.

The 21-year-old became an instant celebrity Friday after she silently disrupted the Speech from the Throne by holding up the "Stop Harper" sign she had smuggled in under her skirt. She was escorted out and fired from her job in the Senate, but says she is elated by the positive reaction to her 20-second act of civil disobedience.

"I have been really inspired because there have been thousands of people who have sent messages or commented on the Internet. People know that hope for change is possible when we start taking action."

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She has also gotten a few job offers that she's now considering, but says her focus is on building a strong "resistance movement" and says she is looking forward to some coming rallies.

She has won the support of high-profile documentary maker Michael Moore, who featured her on his website Sunday.

The offers of employment have come from the Public Service Alliance of Canada, the Council of Canadians and from a journalistic organization, she said.

Not everyone, of course, has been supportive. Her father, who lives in her home town of Winnipeg, was critical.

"He questions whether this will achieve real change," she said.

Opposition Leader Jack Layton also disapproved.

"I think it's wrong," he told the CTV program Question Period.

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"We have been pushing for decorum in the House of Commons. You don't have decorum if people are standing up holding up signs in the middle of debates and solemn moments. … We encourage protests, it is part of a great long tradition of democracy. But it should be happening at the proper place and at the proper time."

But her mother was proud of her and her two sisters were positive about her protest.

"It is only through these inappropriate actions that we will challenge the status quo," Ms. DePape said. "If it weren't for non-violent direct action taken by women for the right to vote, as a woman, I wouldn't have been able to vote in the last election."

Ms. DePape started as a page in the Senate in September and her contract would have ended in August. In her spare time, she likes to write poetry and plays.

She said the Conservative government's policies on the environment, especially climate change, are destructive. She wants Ottawa to spend less on fighter jets and corporate tax cuts and more on social programs.

She wants to build on the momentum her protest has created and said that social media offers new possibilities for engaging in civil disobedience.

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"It is important to challenge the assumption that politics is the exclusive domain of politicians. It is really when ordinary people who voted against Harper take things into their own hands that we will hold him accountable."

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About the Author

Anne McIlroy has been a journalist for more than 25 years. She joined the Globe in 1996, and has been the science reporter as well as the parliamentary bureau chief. She studied journalism at Carleton University in Ottawa. More

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