Friday, September 19, 2008

Mounties doing Harper's dirty work

It should come as no surprise that a lot of cops support the conservatives (indeed, one of them is running in St. Boniface). The Mounties who provide security for Stephen Harper, though, seem to be doing more than simply keeping him safe:
The swarm of suits chatter up their sleeves as Stephen Harper arrives at a suburban home construction site for his campaign promise du jour, this one a $750 tax goodie for first-time home-buyers.

As usual with Harper's travelling film clip, nothing is left to chance, especially not a photo op for the night news.

Incredibly, it is the Mounties who help make sure it is all picture perfect.

Charged with ensuring the prime minister's safety, the RCMP security service has instead been forced to become the Conservative party's armed public relations agency for the election campaign.

Last week, the Mounties were used to corral a television crew doing its job. Yesterday morning, it was about a dozen angry autoworkers losing their jobs who threatened Harper's sound bite of the day, and wound up on the wrong end of the Horsemen.

One of them began yelling protest slogans on a bullhorn while the Conservative leader was giving his speech on a vacant lot across the street, out of sight and all but safely out of earshot.

Suddenly, the bullhorn guy was nose-to-nose with a giant bald cop with a wire in his ear and a gun on his hip, a member of the prime minister's formidable RCMP bodyguards.

On this day, one of the nation's finest was pressed into service as a political PR operative, trying to silence pesky protesters.

The cop ordered the man to shut off the bullhorn that was apparently being picked up on media microphones recording the PM's every word for the night news.

"You're disturbing the peace," the Horseman said to the autoworker, who naturally interpreted the growling notice as a threat of handcuffs.

Until Harper was safely on site, the protesters were actually barricaded behind police lines a half-kilometre away, too far for the TV camera operators to walk.

From here. The idea of keeping nonviolent protesters at a distance on pain of arrest is straight out of Karl Rove's operating manual, don't you think? Remember the "free speech zones" from the US?

Actually, there's a lot of stuff going on in this election campaign that I'd rather see remain south of the border (well, I'd rather it wasn't happening anywhere, but it hits home harder when it happens in one's own country). The fact that the Conservatives are using the fact that Dion has been a professor against him in ads is another page from the Republican handbook.

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