UPDATE 1: It appears The Star’s Tim Harper talked to the Prime Minister’s office – and they confirmed that they had asked the video be taken down. And now it appears to be back online.
UPDATE 2: Now back off line and with a copyright claim attached. This gets more interesting…
Tuesday’s Rob Ford backyard barbecue of Conservatives – both municipal and federal – was at first glance an awkward get together, hammed-up for the cameras and replete with stories of fishing trips and jocular teasing. Nominally intended to fête Finance Minster Jim Flaherty (forced to endure a mocked-up championship belt, and a giddy Doug Ford, the mayor’s brother, grabbing the microphone to shout ‘put your dukes up’) the event served a much more obvious purpose.
The gathering was meant to signal, through rigid smiles, a united Conservative presence in the GTA. After the federal electoral breakthrough in May, and the ‘lefty mess’ meant to be cleaned up by Tim Hudak after the October 6th Ontario election, the ‘surprise’ appearance by the PM capped off what was a show of force by all three levels of the Conservative movement in Ontario (including the by-tradition non-partisan municipal level)
.Such an event, to celebrate the party’s success in what was once solid Liberal country, required some doing. The Toronto Star says the party was organized by MP Patrick Brown (Barrie) and MP Kellie Leitch (who beat independent Helena Guergis in Simcoe-Grey), who came south to help host. This was no surprise drop-in by the Prime Minister but a carefully organized rollout of all the local Conservative star power.
Why? Inevitably Prime Minister Harper was teased (at least on Twitter) by those who suggested his fishing prowess is as believable as his cuddly blue sweater but the fact remains that Mayor Ford was indeed a guest at Harrington Lake and wanted to make sure everyone knew it.
Stranger still, if the event were meant for public consumption (a gallery of pictures from the event is posted on the Mayor’s Facebook profile why was the video evidence removed by those who filmed it within 48 hours? At least two videos were available – linked to by The Toronto Star, The Toronto Sun and The National Post. Neither remains and this sudden censorship is perhaps more telling than anything else about the event.
Local politicians were able to snap a few pictures to show their constituents that they really do have the ear of the PM – nothing wrong with that. Apparently Minister Flaherty has a long-standing relationship with the Ford family. But it seems odd to think that if this were meant as an all hands on deck photo-op that any video record of it would suddenly disappear. If the point was to make clear the recent and future success of all branches of the Conservative party, why pull the cheerful evidence?
Perhaps there was no need to remind us that all three levels of the Conservative Party are working carefully together especially given that one of them has suffered a rough couple of weeks. If the not-quite-ready-for-prime time Ford brothers are indeed understood as a liability to their federal and provincial cousins, and as it became clear the national media had seen and were commenting on these videos, then maybe it was best to quickly pull the video record down? Perhaps best just to keep the jokes flowing, the beer cold and never mind that fishy smell.