If you go up to the Hill today

If you visit the House of Commons, your t-shirt could land you in trouble. That is if you wear one that says Greenpeace. Parliament Hill security, which is controlled by the RCMP, has banned anything with a Greenpeace logo on it from the Parliament Buildings in the wake of a recent banner drop by the organization.

Last Monday, approximately 14 Greenpeace activists scaled the roof of the West Block and unfurled a banner criticizing Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff of deadly inaction on climate change, an inaction that has become quite apparent in Copenhagen. The activists, along with others on the ground, were arrested.

While a spokesperson for the Speaker’s Office, which is responsible for Parliament Hill security, told reporters that this blanket ban on all things Greenpeace is merely a matter of security and not different from attempts to ban other types of cause-specific slogans from the observation deck, others disagree. NDP MP Libby Davies brought up the issue of freedom of expression and others feel this new crackdown is overkill.

Consider for a moment the fact that this security breech isn’t the kind that can physically harm anyone (except, of course, for the people who scaled the building). Also consider that people attempting a repeat action or another action and hoping to get away with it probably wouldn’t walk in the front door wearing t-shirts that shout their allegiance to the group that security is looking out for.

Now factor in the recent shouting match Harper spokesman Dimitri Soudas started with the group Equiterre in Copenhagen over a hoax that was later revealed to be done by The Yes Men (gotta love the Yes Men). Also consider the more than an hour-long inquisition of Amy Goodman, a respected journalist at the hands of border guards out of fear that she may speak negatively of the Vancouver Olympics. Throw in for good measure the treatment of Olympic dissenters as a whole.

We’re left with the impression that Canada has a government that is concerned, above all, with protecting its reputation. The tactics they use, however, just serve to make them look like a bunch of goons who will stomp on civil liberties without batting an eyelash. These, ironically, make them look far worse than their policies could.

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