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Recap -- the Conservatives are lead by petty little shits
Is that too harsh? Biased? That's an objective observation based on my experience this past weekend.
Covering a political convention when you are banned from it feels like writing with one arm tied behind your back. It’s very difficult. It requires a lot of thinking through options — can I get access to that person some other way? Can I sneek into that? Do all my stories have to be based on streeters (i.e. the random conversations I have with delegates on the side walk)? What about rain, will that ruin my laptop? Where are the all the outlets? How much coffee entitles me to this desk that I’ve set up at the lobby of the Hilton? What is happening right now?
And so on.
I talked about my first experience with security on Friday’s episode of the Daily News Podcast. Their head of security, a cop, was sure that he could get me placed in jail if I dared interview a delegate inside the convention centre. Every conversation I had (which were pretty much all saying hi to people I know), there was a younger woman staffer to one side of me by about 10 feet and this cop guy to the other side of me at about 20 feet.
It was tiresome to be tailed and after standing there for a few hours demanding to know why they banned me, I finally left. My day was already wasted so there was no point in wasting any more.
But thanks to some ingenuity of a colleague, I did manage to get myself a pass that looked good enough to pass. Friday night, I spent some time in hospitality suites that were mostly not in the convention centre (and therefore no pass). I went between the Equal Voice suite (where the ratio was about 15 men to 1 women) and Campaign Life Coalition suite (where the ratio was about 8 men to 1 woman), drinking their alcohol and having interesting conversations.
(There’s nothing quite like telling someone who wants the Catholic Church to go back to pre-Vatican II that you’re a socialist and that there is no god. Do it with grace and it’ll make them laugh, which will make you laugh.)
In all these spaces, I always identified myself as a journalist. Of course, without an official lanyard, it meant that people didn’t stop me so fast — one of the reasons for why parties are smart to give all journalists accreditation — but I was never asked to leave by the space organizers. In fact, when I said I was a journalist, I was usually welcomed. On Saturday night, I was invited into a hospitality suite and given a drink ticket even though I had declined at first. It was there that two fully decked out security guards waited for me at the door to finish my wine.
As I was leaving, the guy at the door who had been very warm was suddenly ice cold. I pretended not to notice the proto cops or the staffer who had been following me from the start. Or the woman who had appeared that had had the job on Thursday to watch me. As my colleague and I walked out, I weaved a bit, abruptly stopped to tie my shoe — did things to confirm what my body was telling me — I was being escorted out. Past the long line where Pierre Poilievre was still shaking hands.
And then, in a whiny voice that tried to be authoritative, some loser called out my name. I didn’t even flinch. Why would I? I had already won. He asked me to hand over my fake credential which I looked at him and laughed at. Why would I do that, I asked. Do I look like an idiot?
I don’t know if he got off pretending to be a cop. The proto cops with him didn’t seem to speak much English so I told them that they were working for some osti caves. They laughed and wished me a good evening. Hard to try and stay neutral on the facts when they treat me like this. Of course, they didn’t even glance at my colleague who was, on paper, as banned as I was. But he is a he and I am not and I dunno, maybe I scare them.
One thing was crystal clear, though: journalists who cover federal politics do not act like they understand what is at stake for a free press in Canada. The way that I’m treated by the party is a warning sign. The CPC is practicing how to shut journalists out completely but too many of them think that the only thing at stake is their own jobs and so they act accordingly. There was barely any solidarity shown towards me. People were nice, of course, and I saw a lot of folks I haven’t seen in a long time. But when you’re shut out of a convention, you’re also shut out of access to embargoed speeches, schedules and the humanness in the press gallery that helps you get through the slog of covering a political convention. One friend offered to help me but otherwise I did it alone. Anything I missed, I had to figure out — I couldn’t ask anyone sitting around me.
And sure, you can blame all of this on the fact that my politics are not the same politics as most political reporters in this country. But that’s too easy. Lazy, even. They harass and isolate me because they know they can. And they’re coming for everyone else to — they’re just practicing on me as they have been since 2017.
But regardless, here’s what I was able to do —
Dispatch from day one:
Dispatch from day two:
Summary of the policy motions passed:
I hope you enjoy. There are a few more things coming but till then, this should tide you over.