|What were the organizers of the Ann Coulter event thinking?
The cancellation of controversial conservative commentator Ann Coulter’s Ottawa talk seemed to Capital Diary to be due less to protesters and more to incompetent organizers. Those in charge of the event kept allowing people into the foyer of the lecture hall until occupants were in danger of being crushed. The two sets of doors that opened into that foyer became difficult to open with all the bodies pushing through, creating a serious safety hazard. (At one point the fire alarm was pulled.) Ottawa police officers, who are certainly used to dealing with large crowds, seasoned protesters and dignitaries (like Barack Obama) rolling through town, were on hand but decided to allow the crowd to grow as more and more people from the long line outside pushed in. Ten minutes before the event was to start, two organizers started to slowly check off names from an email list and let people in. It soon became obvious many of the hundreds of people in line who had been waiting for hours would not get in, yet organizers chose not to inform them, fuelling anger in the crowd. “Will we even get in?” people started shouting. Fifteen to 20 minutes after the first people had been let in, entry to the hall was stopped (even though lots of VIPs continued to get in through side doors). Around 8 p.m., with the hall about half full, the event was cancelled. Coulter was to have been introduced by Ezra Levant, who has had his own freedom of speech battles after he published the infamous Danish cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in the Western Standard. But Levant notes that, compared to him, Coulter is in the big leagues when it comes to free speech. “She’s been pied,” he said. “When you look at who has been pied, it’s really big shots—premiers like Ralph Klein, Gail Shea, the fisheries minister.” Could Levant have a case of pie envy? “When you’ve been pied,” he said, “you know you’ve reached a certain level.” Hoping to catch Coulter speak was her former editor. Doug Pepper, now president and publisher of McClelland & Stewart in Toronto, used to edit Coulter when he was working in New York. He happened to have business that day in Ottawa. “She took editing very well,” noted Pepper, who along with Levant ended up meeting Coulter for a bite to eat at the Fairmont Château Laurier where she was staying.
|Harper’s house just happens to be in his jurisdiction
The Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs recently visited Ottawa. The association’s president, Bruce Burrell, says one of the top issues his group is lobbying for is a tax credit for volunteer firefighters. But the politicians “are not listening,” he said. Burrell is also Calgary’s fire chief. Stephen Harper’s home is in his jurisdiction.
|The MP who has a beef with South Korea
The Canadian Cattlemen’s Association herded onto the Hill and held a big beef reception in 200 West Block. Liberal MP Mark Eyking says one of the issues he wants to have resolved for the group is trade barriers with South Korea. He suggested putting a few Canadian cows on the front lawn of the South Korean ambassador’s home. Noted the Cape Breton MP, “It worked when the Brazilians did it to us.”
For five years, Tory Sen. Nancy Ruth has been asking for throw pillows for the deep couches by the entrance to the Senate. And now they’ve arrived. But the new ones “are not that comfortable,” the senator said. Why the long delay? Ruth says she was told for years that if pillows were put on the couches, “they’d get stolen.” To which she replied, “What? Right in front of security?”