Democracy trumps all

When NDP leader Jack Layton was in town last week, I managed to beat my way through the throng at Tim Horton’s long enough to introduce myself and shake his hand.

Bill Phillips

Prince George Free Press

When NDP leader Jack Layton was in town last week, I managed to beat my way through the throng at Tim Horton’s long enough to introduce myself and shake his hand.

Free Press reporter Joe Fries was also there and snapped a couple of shots of me with Layton. Being this is the age of social networking, when I got back to the office I posted one of the photos on my Facebook page.

If you have a Facebook page, it’s what you do.

Now, if Conservative Party leader Stephen Harper comes to town, I wonder if I’ll be able to attend his event?

Layton was kind in his assessment of Harper’s campaign team screening people who attend his rallies. “Outrageous,” Layton said of the news that a young woman was barred from attending a Harper rally apparently because someone noticed the woman had posted a picture of herself with Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff on her Facebook page.

I call it slimy, boorish, and patently undemocratic.

For me, democracy trumps any platform … right wing, left wing, broken wing, hot wings, or wing nut.

Stephen Harper is well-known as a control kind of guy. Democracy and control freaks don’t go together well.

To screen out an attendee at a political rally because she had her picture taken with the opposition is what we expect in places like Libya or Iran. It’s ironic that Harper cut his teeth in Preston Manning’s Reform Party, which was all about reforming government so it is more responsive to the people it serves.

Harper seems to be more interested in totalitarianism than democracy.

The Harper camp also limits the number of questions reporters can ask after events to five. Okay, everyone’s on a tight schedule during an election campaign.

For the record, when Layton was here his event was about 40 minutes long. It took him about 15 minutes to make his speech to the party faithful and then spent about 25 minutes taking questions from the media. Some might say that should be reversed, but the point is he made himself available to everyone.

I saw Bruce Strachan, who writes a Right Side Up column, at the Layton event. For those who don’t know Bruce, he was a cabinet minister in a right-wing provincial government. I doubt if he has an NDP membership card. But he was there to hear what Layton had to say. He might not agree with Layton, but he was there to listen. That’s what democracy is about and kudos to Bruce for taking the time to hear what someone from the other side of the political spectrum had to say.

I work in a profession where my counterparts in a good portion of the world would lose their lives for having their picture posted on the Internet with someone opposing the government. When I hear of political handlers, or worse yet the police, scouring the Internet and making lists of people who are likely termed “subversives,” it sends a chill down my spine.

Once again, democracy trumps everything and the democracy I want for Canada includes freedom of expression, freedom of association, and freedom of speech.

Bill Phillips is the editor of the Prince George Free Press

 

Just Posted

Singing and drumming was heard in downtown Vanderhoof on Monday, June 14. (Aman Parhar/Omineca Express)
Photos: Honour Walk held in Vanderhoof

An honour walk was held Monday June 14 in Vanderhoof, remembering the… Continue reading

Emergency crews responded to the scene of a suspicious fire at the southeast corner of the OK Café in Vanderhoof Friday, June 11. The historic building is 101-years-old. (BC RCMP photo)
OK Café in Vanderhoof alright after suspicious fire

Damage kept to a minimum by firefighters

A person receives a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. Northern Health confirmed it has the lowest vaccination rates amongst the province’s five regional health authorities. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
Vaccination rates in Vanderhoof, Fraser Lake, Fort St James well below provincial average

COVID-19 immunization clinics for youth 12+ coming up in Fort St. James

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

White Rock’s Marine Drive has been converted to one-way traffic to allow more patio space for waterfront restaurants. (Peace Arch News)
Province promotes permanent pub patios in B.C. post-pandemic plan

More than 2,000 temporary expansions from COVID-19 rules

Lake City Secondary School Williams Lake campus students Ethan Reid, from left, Brenden Higgins, Ty Oviatt, Kaleb Alphonse, Nathan Kendrick and Landon Brink with RCMP officers Const. Nicoll and Const. Stancec. (Photo submitted)
RCMP thank 6 teens for helping prevent forest fire in Williams Lake

The students came across fire in a wooded area and used the water they had to try and extinguish the flames

There is an emergency shelter near the Golden Ears peaks. (Facebook/Special to The News)
Hiker fogged in on Golden Ears, spends 2 nights

Talon Helicopters, Ridge Meadows Search and Rescue bring him home Monday

Annamie Paul, leader of the Green Party of Canada, speaks at a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, on June 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Green Leader Annamie Paul facing no-confidence motion from party brass

move follows months of internal strife and the defection of MP Jenica Atwin to the Liberals

Tulips bloom in front of the Supreme Court of Canada in Ottawa, Thursday, May 10, 2018. Day two of a full week of scheduled hearings will be heard in Federal Court today on a case involving Indigenous children unnecessarily taken into foster care by what all parties call Canada’s “broken child welfare system.” THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
AFN slams Ottawa for ‘heartless’ legal challenge of First Nations child compensation

2019 decision awarded $40,000 to each Indigenous child removed before 2006

Ivy was thrown out of a moving vehicle in Kelowna. Her tail was severely injured and will be amputated. (BC SPCA)
Kitten thrown from moving vehicle, needs help: Kelowna SPCA

The seven-week-old kitten had severe tail and femur injuries

A health-care worker holds up a sign signalling she needs more COVID-19 vaccines at the ‘hockey hub’ mass vaccination facility at the CAA Centre during the COVID-19 pandemic in Brampton, Ont., on Friday, June 4, 2021. This NHL-sized hockey rink is one of CanadaÕs largest vaccination centres. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
‘Vaxxed to the max’: Feds launch Ask an Expert campaign to encourage COVID shots

Survey shows that confidence in vaccines has risen this spring

Port Alberni court house (Alberni Valley News)
Inquest set into 2016 death of B.C. teen after a day spent in police custody

18-year-old Jocelyn George died of heart failure in hospital after spending time in jail cell

Most Read