Aloha, voters


At about 7:15 p.m., Prime Minister Stephen Harper is a few lines into his stump speech, to a ballroom packed with Tories at Vancouver’s Westin Bayshore, just a short stroll up the seawall from Stanley Park, when an intermittent fire alarm begins to sound.

He laughs it off with a quip about alarms going off in financial markets, too. A voice comes over the PA informing the throng that it the alarm is being checked out. Harper plows on. Wondering if the protesters I saw gathering outside earlier might have pulled the alarm, I head down two flights of escalators to see what’s going on around the hotel’s front entrance.

Before I can get to the door, though, I’m brought up short by the sight of Hawaiian dancers, in full regalia—well, plastic grass skirts—swaying in formation in the main-level conference area. Turns out they are the Tusitala Polynesian Dancers, performing for a luau theme night at the British Columbia Seniors Living Association’s trade show.

Outside about a dozen mostly black-clad demonstrators have turned on the sirens on their red bullhorns, setting off a piercing din. Their placards read “Trust evidence INSITE saves lives.” Mark Townsend, an organizer in a leather jacket, explains that they’re angry Harper’s government has ignored medical research that establishes a solid case for Vancouver’s safe injection site for addicts.

A senior citizen in a tweed jacket over a gray sweater vest loses his cool, strides over to the protesters, and makes as if to grab one of their signs. Then he thinks better of it, and instead finds a hotel worker to berate for not doing something about the demo. He declines to tell me his name, but describes himself as a Conservative voter from the Delta-Richmond East riding. He’s angry because he believes someone from the pro-Insite gang set off the fire alarm to spoil the PM’s speech.

The demonstrators move suddenly as if they’re going to try to get inside the hotel. A half dozen police officers, also in black, rush up in formation, blocking the door. The tweed-jacket guy stands back and looks on. So do a quite a few people, I notice, wearing colorful plastic leis. Everybody cools down. When I get back inside, the Tusitala Dancers are finished, the Prime Minister is wrapping up, and the fire alarm has finally stopped.

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Aloha, voters

  1. Down in flames?

  2. Sounds like a lot more fun outside than inside.

  3. Gee, was the angry Conservative an RCMP officer?

    RCMP secretly funded anti-Insite research

    In one of these emails former Constable Chuck Doucette of the “E” division reports to his superiors that “Dr. Mangham’s report has now been published…As per our request, the report has no reference to the RCMP”. Other emails refer to the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS as the “Centre for Excrements”, and call on members of the RCMP to phone in to a local radio show, stating “You know that the Pro Insite side will have people lined up to support it. Let’s try get more calls in than they do”.

    Emails also show that Conservative MPs met with the RCMP officials who commissioned the reports, and talked about shifting Canada’s drug strategy away from harm reduction. One RCMP email states “As we know, with a minority government, it isn’t going to change overnight; but, at least we know this is what they will be pushing for when they can.”

  4. Now the RCMP is working to denigrate relevant statistics? And they claim to always being short of funds for more members. Any chance they could maybe focus on solving crimes, as opposed to help Harper’s CONservatives battle science?

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