View From the Hill – Two Columns by Keith Beardsley – G20 Whiners & CSIS – Happy Canada Day 2010 – June 30

Cornwall ON – We’re happy to present a double shot of View From the Hill by our Political Maven, Keith Beardsley!

And now the whining begins

It’s always interesting to see how people view the world and their place in it. Good examples of this are the complaints of our recent G20 protesters who now complain that the police were to rough on them. Just what did you expect the police to do when they have to protect some 20+ world leaders?

Added to the equation, is the fact that everyone knew that there would be violent protesters in their midst. This wasn’t a secret; it had been talked about for weeks. Even legitimate protestors had to know some radicals would be there to cause trouble. If you were the organizers of a legitimate protest, then you had a responsibility to weed these characters out of your march. If you didn’t and you allowed those that destroyed shops etc to enter your march, then you share the blame for what followed. Organizers had a responsibility to their group and the cause that represented to keep things peaceful and well organized. By not acting and tossing these thugs back out into the open, then you share some of the blame for any consequences that might have occurred.

Those consequences might have included the police wading into your group to snatch a particular trouble-maker that they had identified. When there are several days of demonstrations and the first one is violent can you expect the police to play kindergarten cop the next day?

Common sense comes into play as well. If there have already been violent incidents on day one, why would you go down to the G20 site just to see what is going on if you are not part of a legitimate protest? Playing tourist in the midst of demonstrations while riot police watch is not on my list of one of the brightest things for one to be doing. If tear gas has been fired and police lines are advancing, why are you standing there watching it unfold if you aren’t a protestor?

Unfortunately news reports focused on the violence and from what I saw on TV, there was little coverage of other quiet and legitimate protest marches. For those groups, it’s a shame that their message got lost in the coverage of the mayhem.

One of the best media quotes I saw came from a G20 protester who was complaining about the police and he said:

“The police broke the law. They’re supposed to take the hits and retaliate if need be. They’re not supposed to take pre-emptive strikes.”

That says it all doesn’t it.

How politically correct!

How politically correct for politicians of all levels to call for the head of CSIS boss Richard Fadden.

Let’s not face reality, the reality that foreign governments do seek to compromise politicians. That would be just plain nasty of them wouldn’t it?

Considering the technology and close political relationship that we share with the USA, you would have to be pretty dumb to think that foreign spies don’t operate in Canada. It’s equally dumb to hide your head in the sand and think that politicians aren’t a logical target for a foreign intelligence service. In this country it’s quite normal for someone to run first at the municipal level and then move to the provincial or federal level. Why wouldn’t a foreign intelligence agency target politicians at all levels of government?

Of course in Canada if you are a politician or work for a government department or agency, you are not allowed to offend anyone’s sensibilities. To do so brings down the wrath of all those politicians trying to protect their voter base.

Fadden’s mistake was to tell it like it is something that political nervous nellies don’t want to hear. As for Premier Campbell’s comment “To cast a shadow of doubt across municipal politicians or provincial cabinet ministers without so much as a shred of substantial evidence I have seen, or anyone else has seen, is simply not acceptable in Canada”

Should any PMO or any provincial premier’s office get involved with CSIS operational matters? I think not. Can you imagine the outcry from these same politicians if it came out that staff of a political party (any political party), were telling CSIS what to investigate or how to investigate other politicians? It’s much better that politicians do not get involved in operational matters at CSIS. SIRC is there to oversee them, but I for one would not want one our politicians meddling in the daily operations of CSIS.

Let’s not kid ourselves, contrary to Premier Campbell’s assertion, if McFadden said it for public consumption, he did so based on facts, not wishful thinking or make believe. It’s time for our federal politicians and provincial premiers to stop grandstanding for ethic votes on this issue. It’s a nasty world out there and Canadians and Canadian politicians are not immune from it.

Keith Beardsley is a senior strategist for True North Public Affairs in Ottawa, as well as a blogger and political analyst. He can often be found running or cycling on his favorite bike trails.

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