Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Openness And Transparency: An Update

Recently I wrote a post about the very stringent and restrictive conditions imposed upon those who would attend gatherings featuring Stephen Harper. Not only are all potential attendees vetted and issued a ticket, but it was reported that they had to agree to a gag order, a virtual embargo on information and pictures from the gathering.

Now the Tories are changing their tune, perhaps stung by the public reaction to measures, as I noted earlier, that seem more appropriate to a totalitarian state than a democratic one.

That ubiquitous gadfly, Conservative party spokesman Kory Teneycke, now assures us it was all just a big misunderstanding, at least the part about the embargo on information. He now says
that the requirement was a “legal boilerplate” that some lawyer “cribbed” for the ticket’s disclaimer – but that ultimately meant nothing.

“We’ve removed it,” he said of the disclaimer. “It was never intended. It was never enforced.

“We encourage people to take pictures and use social media at our events.”
The restrictions on admission, however, remain, inviting widespread scorn for the PM's fear of Canadians:
“It sends a message that the leader is trying to avoid questions and challenges to the Conservative party’s platform and ideas,” said Duff Conacher, co-founder of Democracy Watch.

“To not be open to debating the public during an election campaign is definitely anti-democratic. That’s what the election is supposed to be all about.”
But in the skewed world of Harperland, such restrictions are reasonable:
Teneycke said Monday there is nothing wrong with the practice, insisting that while the Conservatives do restrict public attendance at some events, that doesn’t tell the whole story.
In what surely must be adjudged a parody of democratic openness and accessibility, the serial apologist for all things Conservative said that
Harper does meet average Canadians on the trail every day at places such as a local bakery or shopping malls, such as the one he visited in Scarborough Monday.

He cited an instance where Harper went to a grocery store to buy sandwiches, ordered his lunch, and “sat around taking pictures and chatting with people at the store.

“This notion that people can’t come up to the prime minister is nonsense.”
What Tenecke doesn't mention, of course, is the fact that these photo-op sites are rigorously pre-screened to ensure they are Tory-friendly.

Engaging in the favourite of Tory pastimes, revising history, the Conservative puppet averred that
it’s only logical that such events be restricted to Conservatives, adding that this is how it’s been done in elections dating back to at least 2008.
Tom Flanagan, a former Conservative insider,
said the practice is new. “Message events have always been constructed this way, but not rallies.”

Flanagan said the new policy may have a “security aspect,” noting last October’s attack by a gunman on Parliament Hill.

“Or maybe it’s more about message control. If there is even one vocal protester at an event, the cameras will pan on him and the message will be lost.”
Or, heaven forfend, he or she might ask a real question. That would never do in Harperland.


  1. A picture is truly worth a 1000 words, Lorne......

    1. It tells us all we need to know, doesn't it, Rural?