Thursday, January 9, 2014

Funny, it never seemed "easy" to get near PM Harper before...

Case in point:
Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff is accusing Conservative Leader Stephen Harper of performing more rigorous background checks on people showing up at his campaign events than advisers he hires in the Prime Minister's Office.
Ignatieff's verbal jab at Harper comes after reports the Conservatives threw two university students out of a Conservative rally in London, Ont., on the weekend.

Awish Aslam, a second-year political science student at the University of Western Ontario, told CBC News she and a friend were trying to attend a Sunday rally with Harper when they were asked to leave by an RCMP officer.

Aslam said they were led to the lobby where the officer told them they were no longer welcome because they had ties to the Liberal party. Aslam said the only explanation was her Facebook profile photo showing her posing for a picture with Ignatieff at a recent Liberal rally in London.

Awish Aslam at a rally in London, Ont. with Jack Layton. (Flickr)

The Liberal leader told reporters during a campaign stop in Newfoundland and Labrador that "you are in a very un-Canadian place" when citizens get tossed from public meetings for having "a certain Facebook friend: me."

Harper sidestepped questions on the ejections at a campaign stop in Quebec on Tuesday morning, saying only his staff manages his events and that he could not comment on a specific situation.

"There are hundreds of people who are coming out to our events. There are hundreds of people I meet with every day and I think the campaign is going very well," Harper said.

Aslam said she had to pre-register for the Conservative event Sunday, which is how the party had her name and that her friend's father, who is a Conservative party member, helped them fill out the online form to get on the list.
Hmm, there are hundreds of people, yadda yadda. Where have I heard something similar before? Oh yea.
The security breach has led to questions about how two activists could get so close to the prime minister before his personal RCMP security detail intervened -- questions the Prime Minister's Office and the Mounties have so far refused to answer.

The RCMP immediately promised to review what happened and on Wednesday said it had narrowed in the source of the problem, though a spokeswoman declined to elaborate.

"The review of the incident is still ongoing; however, we've identified the mistake and have implemented necessary changes to prevent a repeat occurrence," RCMP Cpl. Lucy Shorey said in an interview from Ottawa.

"We can't get into the details of (the prime minister's) security, and discussing the mistake would, in fact, be discussing security details."

Shorey stressed the prime minister makes hundreds of public appearances every year, mostly without incident.

She also said protecting the prime minister requires the RCMP to weigh several competing interests.

"There is always a delicate balance between the RCMP's duty to protect elected leaders versus the public's right to free speech and the public's access to officials in a democratic society," she said.

Security experts have mirrored those comments, arguing such breaches are inevitable in a society where politicians aren't kept completely isolated from the public.

The incident happened in a crowded hotel ballroom a minute or so after Harper took the stage to field questions from the president of the Vancouver Board of Trade.

Two activists -- who have publicly identified themselves as Sean Devlin and Shireen Soofi -- walked onto the stage behind Harper and held up their signs. One sign said Climate Justice Now, while the other said Conservatives Take Climate Change Seriously, with a line crossed through the sentence.

Devlin has said he and Soofi used black shirts and aprons they picked up from a thrift store in an attempt to blend in with catering staff. He has described the process as "quite easy" and said he and Soofi weren't approached by security at any point before walking on stage.

Devlin and Soofi were released shortly after the event and spent the rest of the day conducting a series of media interviews.

They are affiliated with Brigette DePape, the former Senate page who was fired after she walked onto the floor of the upper chamber holding a Stop Harper sign during a 2011 throne speech.
Now, call me crazy, but when you consider things like say illegal spying on Canadians by CSEC, particularly activists as proven publicly at the Toronto G20, and their "affiliation" with Bridgette DePape, and the fact that previously the RCMP have shown they basically check out all attendants (and one can only assume workers) information (Facebook, etc) does it seem likely this is the result of some "mistake"?

And, "inevitable in a society where the politicians aren't kept completely isolated from the public?". Could anyone besides Kim Jong-Un be any more isolated from the people than Harper. For God's sake, the man takes scripted questions from reporters. The closest he gets to the "public" without a deliberate P.R. parade behind him is singing for members of his Conservative party or people with a lot of money.

Is it just me or does this whole event and the speedy reaction to it all seem just a tiny bit staged?
Former Ontario solicitor general Bob Runciman is questioning why two activists who got to within an arm's-length of the prime minister this week were allowed to "walk away scot-free and smiling" — and he says he'll use his Senate seat to bring in new laws to deter similar future protests.

"People who sneak into these kinds of events, using phony ID, impersonate others, or conspire with others to do the same, should face indictable offences with serious fines and/or imprisonment," said Senator Runciman in a written statement sent to the parliamentary press gallery.

"The decision not to charge two individuals who impersonated wait staff, avoided RCMP security and got to within a few feet of Prime Minister Stephen Harper trivializes a serious security breach and highlights the need for new laws to deter future improper attempts to gain entry to events where designated persons such as the prime minister or Governor General are present."

To that end, he says, he hopes to bring in a private member's bill that would "beef up the law to more effectively deter similar attempts in the future."

The release also criticizes the prime minister's security detail for allowing the security breach to occur.
So, let's just reword this here. He wants to essentially bring in a law that would deter people from wanting to go near the Prime Minister when they are unauthorized. But not just "people", "protestors", specifically. Just think about that for a second. Are we really going to deter "protestors" from wanting to get near the PM? How about assassins? See, if the RCMP made a mistake then it would seem to me these sort of anti-assassin policies must already exist, no? Yet we need new laws for protestors? Is that making any sense to you?

This is the most "secure" government in Canada's history, in terms of their own personal security anyway, not your personal information. If you believe this shit, I've got a bridge to sell you.

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Richard Fantin is a self-taught software developer who has mostly throughout his career focused on financial applications and high frequency trading. He currently works for CenturyLink

Nazayh Zanidean is a Project Coordinator for a mid-sized construction contractor in Calgary, Alberta. He enjoys writing as a hobby on topics that include foreign policy, international human rights, security and systemic media bias.

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