HOW EASY IS it to keep governments accountable? Throughout history, journalists, activists, and sometimes even politicians kept governments from power tripping by broadcasting their own mes- sages to the public. Our generation needs a voice, too.
Now that Stephen Harper achieved his long sought-after majority, he’s pushed his agenda through at impressive speeds, shutting down debates in Parliament five times in 35 days. As a result, Canada is getting super prisons, eliminating the long-gun registry, and damaging the environment with a dangerous and unnecessary oil pipeline, all before Christmas.
But it’s not just the Conservatives we need to be critical of. Every level of government can make good and bad decisions, including the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO). Last year, the Board of Administration’s (BOA) decision to eliminate Tristan Dénommée from the position of vp finance of the SFUO because of his alleged cheating during his campaign sparked protests on campus.
This year, alternative opinions have barely been voiced. The only visible resistance to BOA antics was a petition to bring back the Student Arbitration Committee, which died before getting to the table.
Be it at the federal, provincial, municipal, or student government level, there is a need for shit disturbers—someone to organize protests, contact the press, and investigate what’s actually going on. Historically, these were the people like Bob Woodward, Carl Bernstein, and Edward Murrow. These shit disturbers, against all odds, crossed their governments and succeeded in bringing them down.
But shit disturbing is not just for journalists. It’s also for those who want to go down in history as the black sheep who went against the status quo. It’s for those who want to be the news instead of the couch potato reading the news.
“If journalism is good, it is controversial, by its nature,” said Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks and a notorious shit disturber. As much as it is up to journalists to investigate government operations and their purposes, it’s up to the people to take those investigations to heart and demand change where it’s necessary.
Go out there and focus on what matters to you; investigate, ask questions, and don’t settle until you get what you want. Chances are if you don’t do it, nobody else will. As Murrow once said, “Good night and good luck.”