PMO allegedly misuses the RCMP to muzzle press
A Charlottetown hotel lobby became the scene of an absurd spectacle today, as RCMP officers, allegedly operating under orders from the Prime Minister's office, removed journalists waiting to speak to Conservative party MPs convening for their summer caucus meeting.
"Obviously, much of what we're doing is confidential," said Rahim Jaffer, the party's caucus chairperson explained.
So confidential that the Prime Minister's office has RCMP officers performing duties that should rightly be performed by hotel security? Not bloody likely.
If the Prime Minister's office did indeed issue the orders to have the media hustled out of the hotel lobby, this could--and probably should--be construed as an abuse of power. If the party had hired off-duty RCMP officers to work as security (with the hotel's permission, naturally), and paid them from party funds, this would be an entirely different issue. At persent, however, the picture being presented to the Canadian public is very different.
Managing the party's media coverage by defining boundaries around which it can be covered is one thing. Using the RCMP to enforce those boundaries is another entirely.
Frankly, it's wrong.
To be entirely fair, at least this abuse of the PMO's power didn't involve the use of pepper spray, as did Jean Chretien's 1998 abuse. However, a "kinder, gentler" abuse of Prime Ministerial power is still an abuse of Prime Ministerial power.
Unfortunately, Jean Chretien escaped responsibility for his abuse of power, even despite the fact that the APEC pepper spray incident involved several incidents that easily qualify as criminal assault.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper rightfully shouldn't have the same luck. Fortunately, the offense and necessary penalty are much less severe.