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September 18, 2008

Lights, Camera, Mounties, Munchkins! Stephen Harper Enlists Mounties to Keep Oz Safe for the Conservative Munchkins

"I have a seven-month-old baby and I'm out of work as of Friday when my job goes to Mexico. We're here to let Harper know there's more going on in this country than tax cuts, and no one is going to tell me I can't."
- 40-year-old Dave Leitch, who was asked by the Mounties to steer clear of the media cameras so he wouldn't interfere with the Prime Minister's carefully choreographed sound byte of the day.

Journalist Greg Weston of the Canadian Press describes this unprecedented use of the Mounties as the Prime Minister's PR flunkies:

"All of the federal leaders have RCMP bodyguards for the election, but none we have ever seen has been forced to do political dirty work like the squad assigned to Harper.

The best bodyguards in the business - and always nice to me -- they are now being forced to use their authority to protect Conservative photo ops.

(Don't blame the officers -they're just following orders, and my bet is most are embarrassed all to hell at having to dirty their hands in political swill.)

By the time the PM was at the microphone for yesterday's announcement, he was surrounded by a cheering crowd of party faithful, every one there by invitation only and required to pass an ID check by a Conservative organizer under the watchful eye of yet another RCMP.

The man getting his Mounties can't be good."

Okokok Of course, this kind of media manipulation (and out-and-out fakery) is business as usual for Stephen Harper. What's unusual is his willingness to be so blatant about his desire to control the media and the message. That begs the question: Is it arrogance or a sense of political imperviousness that has led him to pull back the curtain that once hid the team controlling his so-called wizardly ways.

Now the wizard is out front, barking out orders to the team of Mounties, not caring that the pretense of a magical spell has been broken, that everyone can see that it's all a carefully staged charade: The public has been vanquished from Oz and repopulated with Happy Conservative Munchkins who are ready to applaud whatever their wizard is offering up today. It's a surreal, technicolour dream.

Never mind the black-and-white realities: that the wizard is a control freak who is drunk on the elixir of power. He manipulates the media, recruits the Mounties to run interference between message and members of the public, and keeps the critics out of range. You don't have to travel far from Oz before you arrive in Stepford, don't you know?

* One of the perks of being the guy who happen to know that an election is looming -- and one of the reasons the Conservatives introduced legislation dealing Fixed Date Elections.

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