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Breakenridge: Ambush protests solely serve to undermine their message

6 min read

The intent to disrupt the occasion and chase politicians away from the rostrum represents a troubling escalation that should not have any place in our political discourse

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Early final week, an Ontario man discovered his destiny for throwing gravel at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at a marketing campaign rally through the 2021 election. For his actions, Shane Marshall obtained a 90-day conditional sentence and one yr of probation.

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In handing down the sentence, Justice Kevin McHugh famous that what Marshall did “was not an expression of political opinions. It was a manifestation of mob mentality, which, if left unchecked, permits anarchy to prevail.”

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The gravel-throwing incident was a part of plenty of loud and indignant protests that adopted Trudeau on the marketing campaign path, a few of which ended up disrupting marketing campaign occasions. One occasion was cancelled altogether over safety considerations.

Trudeau, after all, ended up successful the election. It in all probability wasn’t solely as a result of sympathy created for him by the actions of unhinged protesters, however that definitely didn’t harm. No matter trigger the protesters had been championing, they in the end solely discredited that trigger.

Quick ahead to final week and a troubling incident on the marketing campaign path on this province. Simply three days after Justice McHugh was sentencing and admonishing Shane Marshall down east, Alberta’s incumbent authorities chief was whisked away by safety after three protesters crashed a UCP marketing campaign occasion the place Smith and two UCP candidates had been talking.

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To be truthful, nothing was being thrown at Danielle Smith, nor did any of the shouting seem like threatening. Nonetheless, the intent to disrupt the occasion and chase politicians away from the rostrum — the place they had been about to reply questions — represents a troubling escalation that should not have any place in our political discourse.

These specific protesters appeared motivated by the difficulty of well being care, or particularly the concept hospitals may probably be privatized (an concept Smith mused about in a 2021 speech now circulating on video however one thing the UCP vows would by no means occur), insofar as we may glean from their hospitals on the market indicators and their yelling. Look, it’s truthful to be involved about that problem — or any problem — and to voice these considerations, however not this manner.

It will be unlucky if we had been to see Alberta’s political leaders engaged in fewer marketing campaign occasions, or extra tightly managed occasions. It will be disappointing to have beefed up safety at these occasions and fewer choices for the general public to have entry to our political leaders.

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Whereas these protesters didn’t appear intent on inflicting any bodily hurt to anybody, they might have simply carried out so. Regardless that the UCP chief was shortly moved away, there was a really awkward minute or so the place one of many protesters stood defiantly on the podium holding an indication whereas the 2 bewildered UCP candidates stood proper subsequent to him.

And even when the ethical or moral argument in opposition to such antics isn’t compelling sufficient to these tempted to have interaction in them, maybe the strategic argument can prevail: once more, this solely serves to discredit your trigger. To no matter extent the general public is likely to be involved over the UCP’s dealing with of or intentions for the health-care system, what occurred final week was a political present for Smith and the UCP.

The NDP was sensible sufficient to pay attention to that. Chief Rachel Notley put out a press release saying that what occurred on the UCP occasion was “unacceptable” and that the NDP “strongly condemned the actions taken by the protesters.”

One can solely speculate as as to if these protesters left feeling happy with themselves or if any of the fallout from their stunt has prompted some introspection on their half. However the aftermath is evident: this stunt backfired terribly.

Widespread condemnation of such ways and the emergence of an apparent consensus can go a good distance in discouraging these of a extra activist bent — on both aspect of the political spectrum — from partaking in something comparable. Let’s hope that was the final we see of such nonsense.

“Afternoons with Rob Breakenridge” airs weekdays from 12:30 to three p.m. on QR Calgary and a pair of to three p.m. on 630CHED

[email protected]

Twitter: @RobBreakenridge

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