Adding a truly Canadian flavour, police and government officials have designated two sanctioned sites outside the fenced compound where demonstrators can air their beefs. A closed-circuit camera and television will allow the leaders to flick on live images of the action from the comfort of their meetings.Now, the implication of the Sun story is that the designation of a separate protest site is itself a Canadian idea. In fact, it's far from a new concept - and one of the SPP's participants has made more use of the policy than anybody in recent times:
When President Bush travels around the United States, the Secret Service visits the location ahead of time and orders local police to set up "free speech zones" or "protest zones," where people opposed to Bush policies (and sometimes sign-carrying supporters) are quarantined. These zones routinely succeed in keeping protesters out of presidential sight and outside the view of media covering the event.If there's any difference at all between Harper's means of suppressing dissent and that usually imposed by Bush, it's the existence of the video link which (in theory) makes it slightly more possible for participants to pick up on the messages of protesters.
But for the reasons I'd discussed in my earlier post, there's no reason at all to think that's a meaningful distinction. And sadly, the media's willingness to portray the effective caging of protest as something to be trivialized rather than pointed out makes it far too likely that the voices with reason for concern about the SPP will be heard even less.
Update: A must-see from Alison.