Tuesday, August 11, 2015

But serial failure Kory Teneycke, "Will Sergeant Preston and his trusty junk sniffer dog King still be there to greet attendees at the door?

Conservative pledge to scrap controversial gag order

Elizabeth Thompson
Monday, August 10, 2015

The Canadian Press (Nathan Denette)

Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative party says it is abandoning a controversial rule for participants in its campaign rallies that prohibited the transmission of accounts or pictures of the events.

Kory Teneycke, spokesman for the Conservative party campaign, says the clause contained in invitations to Harpers’ events is being scrapped.

“It has been removed,” Teneycke said in an e-mail. “It was never intended or enforced. We encourage people to take pictures and share them on social media.”

Asked by iPolitics why the clause still appears to be present on the website for a rally Harper is holding in Edmonton on Wednesday afternoon, Teneycke said he would look into it.

The Conservative party’s decision came two days after iPolitics revealed Saturday that members of the public who attend Harper’s campaign events were being required to agree to a gag order before they could participate.

While attendance is by invitation only, and attendees are vetted by the Conservative Party before receiving a ticket, those who want to attend a campaign event in person were being asked to agree to a number of conditions including not to transmit any description of the event or any images from it.

“Holder (of the confirmation of registration) is prohibited from transmitting or aiding in transmitting any description, account, picture or reproduction of the Event,” according to information contained on the invitation website for Harper’s rally in Brampton East on Monday.

A similar warning appears in connection with an event Harper appeared at in the Montreal riding of Mont Royal as he kicked off his campaign last Sunday.

Those attending the event also have to agree to being searched.

“Holder and his/her belongings may be searched upon entry, and Holder consents to such searches and waives any related claims that might arise against Conservative Fund Canada, the Electoral District Association concerned, and the facility. If the Holder elects not to consent to these searches, Holder will be denied entry to the facility.”

The party also makes it clear that breaking that rule – or any of the other rules it sets out – can result in attendees being expelled from the event.

“The confirmation of registration and entry to the event is a revocable licence: it may be withdrawn, admission refused or Holder expelled from the premises at any time for any reason without recourse by Holder.”

Harper’s opponents did not hesitate to take advantage of the revelation, pointing out that their parties did not screen people attending their rallies and did not prohibit them from taking pictures and posting them on social media.

“Ottawa, join me for a campaign rally today at 2 p.m.” Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau tweeted Sunday. “And no, you don’t need my permission to post pictures on social media. In fact we encourage it.”

While the Harper government has prided itself on its message control since it took office nearly a decade ago, this year’s election campaign has taken it to new levels.

The Ottawa Citizen reported that not all of those who have signed up for the Conservative Party’s expensive campaign tour are being allowed to attend all events, with Harper taking only a small pool with him to some photo opportunities.

Last week, veteran Queens Park reporter Susanna Kelley was refused entry to a Harper campaign event. While she arrived 20 minutes before the start of the event, she was told she could not enter because RCMP sniffer dogs were not available to check her out.

The RCMP refused to discuss the incident, saying they don’t discuss security arrangements around the prime minister. But while the RCMP required reporters to be vetted by sniffer dogs at the Conservative Party event, there was no such requirement for either the media or members of the public at Rideau Hall the day Harper launched his campaign.



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