Harper a man who 'lives in a bubble'
Tory campaign goes to extraordinary lengths keeping him from public
OTTAWA–Prime Minister Stephen Harper is shielded from the public as he criss-crosses the country, campaigning in a political bubble.
No handshakes on street corners or rallies in the parks. Only highly staged backdrops for his daily political message, and assemblies where Tory staffers and security officers closely monitor the crowds.
It's a classic "front-runner" technique – a safe, tightly scripted and controlled campaign – taken to a whole new level.
Rallies are off-limits for any member of the public who just shows up. Nobody gets in unless they have been pre-registered by the local riding association. Even local media are asked to sign up in advance.
...The Harper campaign keeps a short leash on national and local media, limiting questions and access to local candidates, sometimes calling on RCMP security to block reporters from doing their jobs.
Harper "hides from Canadians. He lives in a bubble," Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion said last night in Winnipeg.
Just ask Stuart.
Stuart Service is a local reporter from the Halton Compass who attended the Harper/Raitt rally in Oakville last week. Stuart did his usual excellent job reporting on the event itself (although, oddly, he left out any mention of the protesters outside), but also wrote a fascinating companion piece about the experience of reporting on a Harper rally.
He talks about the reporters being 'cordoned off' within a perimeter of yellow tape at the very back of the room. He talks about getting to hang out with ohmygodohmygod it's David Akin. And he talks about how different all this was from what his bosses experienced when they covered the Dion event at the very same hall. Then, they got to ask questions, chat with the leader, and get some great close-up shots.
This time, it was behind the yellow tape, no questions please, and so far from the man himself that a telephoto lens was required to get a usable shot.
Stuart is very coy about how he really felt about all this, but it's a point that has been made before. It goes something like this: