Tuesday, April 5, 2011

'Charter' a Refresher Course...

Source: CTV News: Harper Criticized for 'Unfriending' Teen from Rally
Source: Department of Justice Canada: Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms

In keeping with our discussion of Harper's culture of control in Ottawa, news has come out that a number of people have been ejected from Conservative Rallies by members of the RCMP. As previously noted, the Conservatives have been using a screening process before rallies in order to determine who can and cannot attend.

In the two cases that have so far come out, young voters had registered to attend the Conservative rally, and were ejected shortly afterwards. For one, it was his appearance in a rally of student voters outside of the rally that led to his ejection. For the other, it was a Facebook photograph of her and a friend with Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff.

Harper's mouthpiece, Dimitri Soudas has said he will apologize to the ejected student, though so far no apology has been reported. According to the ejected student, she had planned on attending Federal Events for all the major parties in order to make a well-informed vote come election day; though this answer seems to have fallen on deaf ears as she was still ejected from the rally.

Now, there has been some scramble over this on the Conservative side. Many Conservatives, including Harper, have denied that they have any say over the organization of events. Rather, Harper suggests that it is campaign staff who set up events and establish screening protocols.

I've worked for a few political campaigns in my time, so allow me to provide some insight.

Harper is telling the truth that campaign staff do a lot of organizing and planning for events, but he is omitting the part that explains who has the final say on decision making. That boils down to two people: the campaign manager and the candidate, or in this case, party leader.

Harper said that his staff organizes events, and this is true, but they are still directed and approved to behave in certain ways. As such, either Harper or the national Conservative campaign manager authorized selective screening for Conservative events. And given Harper's history of top down leadership, I think we clearly know who started the ball rolling on this issue.

Harper may not have ordered the teens to be removed personally, but you can bet that he's responsible for the policy that allowed them to be removed from the event in the first place.

This is just another in a long line of examples of Harper subverting Canadian democracy. Why doesn't Harper want to engage with average Canadians? Why does he want his party to restrict access to events where he will be attending? Why is his party not only forcing people to register for events, but clearly ACTIVELY running background checks (via Facebook and other social media sites) on these people?

These are disturbing questions, and Canadians deserve an answer to them. Access to information is a cornerstone of democracy; and the purpose of gaining information is to know the truth about our representatives and whether or not they are acting in good faith. These two people were attempting to inform themselves, an act all Canadians should undertake in an election, and they were penalized because they were willing to listen to every side before making a decision.

In closing, I'd like to refer Harper to a document that I think he's ignoring in this Election Campaign:

Fundamental Freedoms:

2. Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:

(a) freedom of conscience and religion;

(b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;

(c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and

(d) freedom of association.

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