Saturday, February 06, 2010

Prime Minister Stephen Harper hides from public; RCMP bar peaceful demonstrators from entering Delta Bessborough Hotel in Saskatoon

Demonstrators near Delta Bessborough Hotel, Feb. 5, 2010

For the second time in ten days members of the Saskatoon Chapter of Canadians Against Proroguing Parliament braved cold temperatures to greet a federal Conservative politician, only to be snubbed.

More than 70 people gathered outside the Delta Bessborough Hotel over the lunch hour on February 5, 2010, to meet the person responsible for proroguing Parliament on December 30, 2009, to thwart an investigation by a House of Commons committee of the Afghan detainee affair: Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Harper was in Saskatoon to meet with one of his closest provincial allies, Premier Brad Wall, at 1:15 p.m. before heading to a regional caucus meeting at 1:30 p.m. Wall and Harper met briefly with reporters – just long enough to stage a cheesy photo-op in front of a portrait of the late Tory premier John Diefenbaker.

At 2:45 p.m. the prime minister was to attend a business roundtable meeting accompanied by Lynne Yelich, Minister of State for Western Economic Diversification. The names of the other meeting participants were not disclosed.

The media notice issued by the Prime Minister’s Office said Harper’s visit was a “public” event but unless you were a guest at the hotel or had business being there you weren’t allowed near the place.

Plainclothes RCMP guarding the main doors ordered demonstrators to assemble on the sidewalk across the street. Saskatoon police patrolled the front of the hotel checking out parked cars and telling anyone trying to park close to the entrance to keep moving.

At least one demonstrator taking pictures was asked by the RCMP for their full name, whether they lived in Saskatoon, and if they were “a fan” of the prime minister.

Harper and his entourage arrived from the south under police escort in a convoy of dark blue sedans that parked at the rear of the building. A city police cruiser and an unmarked car blocked the north entrance, presumably to keep traffic away.

At 1:30 p.m. about 40 protestors walked across the street and made a peaceful attempt to enter the hotel but were barred from doing so by the RCMP. Rally organizer Peter Garden asked to speak with the prime minister but his request was ignored. A Saskatoon police officer, pointing to the ground, told another demonstrator that they were on hotel property and had to leave. Police told the crowd they were blocking the door and were asked to disperse, which they did.

In the evening, Harper – trying to frame himself as just a regular hockey guy – attended a charity event, the $300 per plate Kinsmen Annual Celebrity Sports Dinner held in the safe confines of TCU Place, where he participated in a publicity stunt portraying an interviewer quizzing NHL greats Wayne Gretzky and Gordie Howe, both of whom live in the United States. [Harper hosts a hockey hotstove in Saskatoon (CBC News, February 6, 2010)]

Little time was wasted capitalizing on the event. Photos of Harper with Howe and Gretzky are already on the prime minister’s website.

On January 27, 2010, Industry Minister Tony Clement was in Saskatoon to give the keynote address at a Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce luncheon held at the Radisson Hotel. He, too, managed to avoid protestors by slipping in through a back entrance.

Harper and his ministers seem to have lots of free time to fly around the country attending cheap photo-ops and hobnobbing with the business elite at taxpayers’ expense, yet when ordinary Canadians ask for a few minutes of their time to answer some tough questions they hide like cowards.

Demonstrators make peaceful attempt to enter hotel

RCMP and city police bar demonstrators from entering

City police cruiser and unmarked car block north entrance

Premier Brad Wall and PM Stephen Harper stage cheap photo-op at Delta Bessborough Hotel, Feb. 5, 2010, SP photo by Gord Waldner


At 9:00 PM, Blogger CathiefromCanada said...

Good for you, Joe, for attending this and posting this information. 70 people on a winter Friday is an excellent turnout.

At 9:41 AM, Blogger Holly Stick said...

I think Dief is getting ready to swat Harper.

At 7:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


At 2:13 PM, Blogger Joanne said...

oh, Stevie. you are no john diefenbaker.

At 7:52 PM, Blogger Politically Incorrect said...

Good work Joe. Thanks for offering an alternative to the "official" news.

Stevie, Dief the Chief is rolling over in his grave.


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