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.


  1. You should visit the CSIS building, now there is a grand expendtiure on our taxes *l*

  2. Keith, I like your straight talk about the reality of the two situations.

    In the G20 situation Stupidity has it’s own rewards but unfortunately the stupid also get a soapbox to cry about it. Reality is if you are confronted by a heavily armed police officer who is already stressed by thousands of protesters and terrorists hidden within them and you get in his face, don’t be surprised if he reacts in a non-friendly way.

  3. When the masses are stripped of their freedom due to the actions of a few, then, there is no democracy.

  4. Keith, the G20 meetings should never have been held in Toronto in the first place. Reportedly, Toronto City Council pleaded with the prime minister to re-think, but Harper refused to listen. He wanted to showcase Canada’s largest city…. as what? A concrete and steel jail? The tough-on-crime city?

    Harper doesn’t think and he doesn’t care what other people think. In the event he came on as Mr. Accountability, calling for countries to lower their deficits, when he is anything but accountable and has racked up the largest deficit in Canadian history.

    Harper is very bad news. Oh Canada!

  5. By Mr. Beardsley’s logic, all the hockey fans who celebrated the Habs playoff victories should have been arrested (at least 900 of them)…I mean you HAD to know it was going to happen, right?

    Since when is it an arrestable offence to do things you consider less than bright?

  6. Since when is winning a hockey game justification for burning cars, smashing windows and looting. Those responsible should have been arrested just as the terrorists at the G20 should have been arrested.

  7. Mob rule gets mob justice! Whiners: If you didn’t want to be jailed then why did you go?

  8. I agree with Reg. If you are stupid enough to torch cars in the name of celebrating a hockey victory, you deserve to go to jail. Outside of the damage to property how many people lost salary or their jobs when their business or the place they worked was damaged or destroyed or contents stolen?

  9. OK, somehow all three of you missed my point. You see, not only were the people responsile detained, but also a vast multitude of innocent people. So apparently it has become a crime to be near a crime being committed.

    Maybe what we need is CCTV with an upgrade: it can recognize individual heat signatures, so when a crime is committed, the 10 nearest people can all be arrested. Since all cops are honorable and trustworthy if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear. Unless you’re black. Or Muslim. Or gay. Or dressed funny. Or………

  10. Author

    Hi Rodney,

    I was there on Saturday. The police were amazing. What happened afterwards, in another location, was a very bad drama and sadly just about all that was covered. I’ve watched a lot of video tape and at the end of the day it comes down to nothing being perfect in this world. What I can say is that those police officers were there not only to protect buildings and targets, but also the very protesters they were expecting the unexpected from. I can’t imagine it’s an easy job and certainly one that you don’t get a lot of practice performing.

    I’m thinking overall I give Toronto and their police a passing grade. I give the real protesters an A+ as they brought their own security for the most part which I think is a factor in why you saw no incidents connected to the Greenpeace’s, Oxfam’s or Organized Labour groups.

    Isn’t funny that almost a week since the burning cars we haven’t really heard much about those “protesters” in black who seemed to be wearing similar footwear?

  11. No-one has a monopoly on footwear. You can purchase any sort of boots and shoes directly from a manufacturer. Maybe the footwear similarity was an ID to others in the same group.

  12. Admin: I actually agree with you, to a point. I think that the level of damage and chaos was quite minimal compared to what it could have been.

    My problem is with this paragraph: “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?”

    You were there, so I guess he would consider you not very bright, and thusly deserving of an overnight stay in a detention cell.

  13. Author

    Well Rodney; even though I’d spent some time with the Marc Emery people, and marched right down the center of the actual march I can tell you watching video of some guys who were literally standing in front of riot police in action moving towards them probably wasn’t the smartest thing to do if your priority was either not getting caught in conflict or not getting pulled in.

    In a hot flash moment the police need to do their job to protect themselves, their team, and those around them. Split second decisions aren’t always perfect.

    Speaking of the Marc Emery people, they chose to not march precisely because they wanted to minimize any potential conflict or exchange. They stood on their little patch of Queens Park; waved some signs, smoked some green, and enjoyed the respite from the rain. It was very Canadian 🙂

  14. What about the many journalists that were detained and arrested? What about the journalist from The Guardian who was beaten and arrested by riot police?

    Why, when there were over 900 arrests, the biggest mass arrest in Canadian history, were so few charges laid?

    By failing to mention any of those pertinent facts, Mr. Beardsley, it is quite clear to any free-thinking reader that you are cherry-picking the facts in an attempt to suit your narrow-minded view.

    The main protest held on Sunday was a PEACEFUL assembly, with no incidents of violence recorded by media. Yet, hordes of Canadian citizens, including journalists participating in this assembly were arrested, pepper-sprayed, and in some instances assaulted. But, again, you faIled to mention these facts.

    I suggest you read the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms before you dismiss the valid concerns of tens of thousands of people as “whining”.

    I do, however, thank you for showing readers that you cannot be relied upon to stand up for the rights of tax-paying citizens in print.

    Kudos to all the people that had the conviction to voice their dissidence PEACEFULLY.

  15. Well said. I can’t believe how easyily we give away our basic rights, and then call it Canadian. Both the article and several of the ensuing posts were quite disheartening. I’m glad someone sees it clearly.

  16. Unfortunately when people gather in a protest march and have the conviction to voice their dissidence peacefully, it usually turns into a mob rule thing with much violence, None of this could have happened to you if you had decided to STAY HOME!

  17. Wrong, some people were in front of their homes as they were being arrested illegally. None of this would have happened had the police chief not twisted the supposed powers they were given and illegally detained, searched, and arrested, almost 1000 people in the biggest mass arrest of our country’s history! And on top of this all, it wouldn’t have happened like this I’m sure had dumbass Harper not thrown it in Toronto in the first place. And to think he has the gall to say he doesn’t have to make financial restitution to the damaged businesses. You rent a hall, you throw a party, damage happens, you pay for it, its that simple. That’s what common sense would dictate anyways, but we all know that Harper seems to be lacking in that!

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