Stephen Harper announces changes to citizen’s arrest laws in most election-y way possible

Stephen Harper announces changes to citizen’s arrest laws in most election-y way possible

More and more, it’s looking like Canada is going to have an election on May 2. There are signs are everywhere: rumours aplenty, partisan attacks, choreographed events. Take Stephen Harper’s announcement yesterday that his government was changing the citizen’s arrest laws so that shopkeepers (like David Chen) that detain thieves don’t have to face trial. The proclamation gave us more insight than ever about the Tories’ preparations for a spring vote. Sure, Harper’s mouth says “no, no, no,” but his political theatre says “yes, yes, yes.”

According to the Globe and Mail:

Mr. Harper said the new legislation will strike a proper balance between individual rights and allowing citizens to protect themselves and their property, redressing a legal imbalance he said is unduly tilted in favour of the criminal.

Before the announcement, a beaming Mr, Harper stopped by the Lucky Moose to meet and greet Mr. Chen and buy a container of maple syrup.

Similar bills were introduced last year by Liberal MP Joe Volpe and NDP member Olivia Chow, both of whom attended Mr. Chen’s press conference, held at the back of his delicacy-packed supermarket.

Let’s review. The prime minister did a downtown Toronto photo-op, where the MP who represents the riding (and acted faster than the government to introduce a similar bill to the one being celebrated) was pushed aside. Check out this picture, in which Julian Fantino is front and centre, while Olivia Chow isn’t even mentioned in the caption and Joe Volpe is nowhere to be seen. Fantino, of course, has no responsibility for crime prevention in cabinet, but has a face many GTA voters will recognize on TV or in the paper. Incidentally, an event like this is perfect for burnishing the Conservative image among immigrants and small businesses. Hint, hint.

Whether Canada goes to the polls isn’t Harper’s choice alone, but an event like this sure makes it look like the PM is ready for one—and readier than the other parties who are still struggling to get mentioned in photo captions.

• Toronto shopkeeper welcomes changes to citizen’s-arrest laws [Globe and Mail]
• What a difference a couple of years make [Toronto Sun]
• The picture of lawfulness [National Post]