Mayor 'Geoff' Meggs: "It's just business" (photo: Vancouver Sun)
Last night as I watched several minutes of media presentations by the RCMP on the six o'clock news, I had the eery feeling I was being softened up for something much larger by Chief Superintendent Bud Mercer. That "larger" something might be benign. The billion dollars worth of security planned by the Games organizers, the RCMP, CSIS and the Armed Forces might simply blend in to Vancouver's happy-go-lucky environment. I suspect we'll be feeling much different though.
As much as I've been a Games booster all along, I won't be happy with the constant buzzing of helicopters overhead before and during the Games. The traffic copters are bad enough. I live close enough to the Hillcrest venue and downtown that I suspect I'll be a regular witness to security checks, motorcades, and lots of serious folks in uniforms. Metal detectors and byzantine council by-laws do not give me a warm and fuzzy feeling about the upcoming Games.
Perhaps Meggs is the perfect pitchman for the upcoming lockdown of any non-sanctioned activities around the Olympics. When your rights are being limited, it's hardly the time for yucks. Could you imagine Heather Deal, for example, selling us on this crackdown on liberties?
The most puzzling aspect of this whole story is how successfully Vision have stamped out dissent on the left. No one, apart from anti-Games activist Chris Shaw and a few of his acolytes, have raised any serious questions about the heavy security, nor about the use of the gag law to squash any anti-Games sentiment.
Stop for a moment and think what we'd be seeing if Sam Sullivan was the mayor and the NPA were in government. The screams from left wing activists, and their representatives on council, would be a daily occurrence by now.
Pete McMartin over at the Sun put together a thoughtful editorial on this topic, and he has similar questions. Here's Pete's list of what we're looking at in terms of the new gag law:
- No distribution of advertising material, or the carrying of any sign "unless licensed to do so by the city."
- No display of signs other than those of a "celebratory" or directional nature.
- No causing of "any disturbance . . . interfering with the enjoyment of entertainment on city land by other persons."
- No "voice amplification equipment" on city property for the duration of the Games.
- As for anti-Olympic marches or protests, they will be relegated to "safe assembly areas" that Games organizers promise will be within sight of venues and spectators.
McMartin asks what famous rights protester Rosa Parks would have made of the heavy security arrangements and the "get on the back of the bus" rules for those who don't support the Games.
Rosa, may she rest in peace, is long gone. The last time I checked however, Vancouver's left wingers are still around. Amazingly, Vision Vancouver has them all firmly under their heel.