It was an early morning rally for Thomas Mulcair in Surrey on Wednesday, October 7. People were walking the oval at the Surrey Arts Centre and the trees were beautiful in the morning sun.
When I arrived at 7:30 some people had been standing in line for an hour, and with all the media, handlers and candidates, there was no way we were all going to get into this building. Not that that's a bad thing... the optics are better if it's standing room only.
|The media bus|
Many of us did make it into the building and were herded into a room slightly removed from the main action. This wasn't going to work so I manoeuvred myself back into the auditorium to be with my people: the journos and camera guys.
Finally, much after the designated start time of 8:00, former premier of British Columbia, Mike Harcourt, provided a spirited introduction to Tom Mulcair.
It then became a scripted affair. Tom was excellent of course, in both official languages, but at this stage of a campaign these things tend to be message tracked. In many ways, the crowd is a backdrop for the media coverage. We know this, yet so many of us want to be a part of it, even if it means arriving at 6:30 in the morning.
|Security agent at far left.|
One thing that stood out was the security presence. When I first met Tom Mulcair at an event at Kwantlen University in Richmond in February 2014, there might have been one staff person with him, and no evidence of security.
I counted at least eight agents, and while they can be identified by their green lapel badges, they tend to stand out anyway. During the event, an agent stood at each of four doors; if someone left the building they weren't allowed back in. Inside, three agents watched the crowd. Another agent spent the entire time watching Tom. If he moved, her eyes followed, and when he left the building she followed close by, and again nearly always watching the candidate.
|Security agent with lapel badge, and another at extreme right.|
|Watching. Always watching.|
Somewhat later than expected, Tom Mulcair left the building, shaking hands, hugging friends, and taking time for all the photos that have become a big part of this campaign. His security detail seemed to be used to it, though not entirely comfortable either.
People, of all ages and all stages in life, want to have their photos taken with the Leader, and Tom, though obviously tired from the long campaign, and his handlers, had patience and time enough for everyone.
Even Mike Harcourt got into the photo action. No security agents needed.
Tom Mulcair's final campaign rally in MetroVancouver will be on Saturday, October 17, 12:30 pm at the Vancouver Convention Centre (West Building).
We're all in this together.
Photos by Jeem. Copyright 2015 by Jim Murray.