Politicizing the PM’s security detail

stephen-harper-motorcade

Every year or so, there’s an article in Canadian newspapers describing the complexities of the Prime Ministerial security detail. Many articles make a snide point about the costs and suggest that it is largely unnecessary.

There’s a refreshing change today in Steve Chase’s Globe and Mail article about the Prime Minister’s trip to India. Chase points out that India dropped the ball when it came to the security for a visiting head of government — India offered the PM’s team a simple car of antiquated design. The RCMP obviously thought this was inadequate and chose to fly the Prime Ministerial motorcade to India onboard a C-17. Instead of offering a passive aggressive swipe the Prime Ministerial security bubble, Chase accepts its necessity and finds news in India’s failure to provide one. The top comments on the article, however, show the very different mindset of the Globe’s readers.

Indeed, it’s usually a perennial sport in Ottawa among Harper critics to bemoan the PM security detail. Suddenly left-wing ideologues are concerned about costs. And the protection of a duly elected representative of all Canadians? Better for Harper’s critics to chalk it up to the PM’s ego or his hubris. Nevermind that security is assessed according to threat and that it is done so by the RCMP. Note too the recent Ottawa-media-driven process stories regarding trick-or-treating at 24 Sussex. The horror according to the subtext? That children and their parents passed through metal detectors before greeting the PM.

When the PM’s security detail was taking shape, the NDP’s Pat Martin remarked, “It looks like something Darth Vader would be driving. We’ve got this gas-guzzling behemoth touring around with the prime minister. It looks tough, it looks quasi-military. Is that the kind of image the prime minister wants to project?” *

The security of the Prime Minister of Canada should be important to all Canadians despite their political stripe. Even if you didn’t vote for Harper or his government, an attack on the Prime Minister is an attack on the outcome of our democratic selection and the sovereignty we exercise in that process. This came under threat with the Toronto 18 in a plot to behead the Prime Minister of Canada, and again provincially when a man took shots aiming to harm or kill the Premier-elect of Quebec. These were only the cases that were publicized. As a matter of policy that governs this sort of security, the level and detail of threats to senior public figures rarely reach the public forum for the consumption of the armchair punditry.

No serious person would seek to strip security from the Prime Minister as a result of an ideological difference because the very necessity of that security is not under dispute by the serious people in charge of affording the same. His security is not political and ought not be.

This isn’t the first time that reactionary critics like Martin have worried more about the symbolism of security than its utility. Many among his cohort were the ones that invested heavily in the symbolism of a multi-billion dollar long-gun registry without any evidence that it provided any effect in preventing crime or saving life.

If the NDP were to ever be successful in forming a government, their leader would be my Prime Minister as well and I would want them to be afforded every necessary protection.

This protection of our democratic will is paramount and even though we disagree on a lot, thankfully we’re able to do so in an environment sheltered from those that would violently circumvent the system in which we all have a voice.

  • http://profiles.google.com/donovan.hill Donovan Hill

    I wonder. If Pat Martin became Prime Minister, would he prefer the smart car or the chevy volt to be his Prime Ministerial car?

  • http://www.facebook.com/darryl.walker Walker Darryl

    It is all fine that we are protecting our Officials and our Democratic will. But why is this protection of democracy so much in the for-front when we have not protected a large part of our constituents from Unfair Child Custody Laws and Maintenance Enforcement Programs that are able to remove all of their Personal Rights, Discriminate and force into Financial ruin. The Inequality of the second Family after a Divorce, Where the first Family is Entitled to all of the money that a Non-Custodial parent makes with no consideration to whether or not this person is trying to raise more of a family than the court order states. We need to recognize that our system is not perfect but when we violate our personal rights of so many people than what is Democracy??

  • liz J

    It’s too bad we have networks sending their agenda driven anti Harper journalists to cover his trips abroad. IMO they’re supposed to be reporting on the trip and what the PM accomplishes of interest to Canadians not about his security detail which is taken care of by the RCMP.

    They really are a petty by and a very despicable lot as well as an embarrassment to the country to be airing their personal biases against the Prime Minister of their own country.

  • Theo2

    The hubris that has become blame Harper for everything was evident this morning in a phone in program in Ottawa. A caller complained that with all of the people left desititue in the New York, New Jersey area, PM Harper should be down there handing out blankets instead of procuring trade advantages for Canada. It doesn’t seem to matter what PM Harper does he will not get the coverage he merits. I have been surprised that he has not been blamed for the Hurricane.
    Meanwhile the Ontario press has completely ignored the travesty being invoked on Ontario through a Liberal party.

  • mdh

    Stephen,

    Would you by chance know (are know where we can find) the costs of the PM security detail and how it compares to previous PMs?

    I have lived in Ottawa for over 16 years, and have noted substantial changes in the size and scope when he travels around the city compared to either Chretien or Martin.

    Would be interesting to see.

  • http://twitter.com/djvanbc David in Vancouver

    It’s totally over the top and is all about the projection of power and looking presidential. It’s just like Harper expecting soldiers to salute him even though he’s not the Commander in Chief. The arrogance is appalling.

  • Powell Lucas

    The disgusting whining by the NDP and Liberal spokesmen is beyond contempt. It is the RCMP that sets the security agenda. He can, of course, overrule them which would suit the opposition just fine. If he was assassinated by some terrorists just think of the points they would score by blaming the remaining Conservative caucus for not acting prudently. I don’t know why these scumbags don’t just put out a contract on Harper so they can have their chance at the brass ring.

  • kenn2

    I won’t begrudge our Prime Minister taking the appropriate security provisions, both at home and abroad. I do suspect that proper armoured limos and SUVs would have been available for hire in India… but maybe the cost savings wouldn’t have been significant.

    The G8/G20 in Ontario was a great big overpriced security boondoggle, by anyone’s standards… but I imagine they’ve learned a bit since then.

  • DougM

    Actually, its your ignorance that is appalling. The PM is the head of the Canadian Government – he rates not only a salute, but a full honour guard at official functions.

  • DougM

    Actually the PM has bugger all to do with his security – it is assessed and carried out by the RCMP. And given that a very prominent Indian politician was killed in her own motorcade just a few short years ago – and that the taliban have identified Canada as one of their targets, the only thing this tempest in a teapot did was to demonstrate what utter amatures the NDP and Liberals are and why they should not be considered by rational people to be serious contenders for Government.