Conservatives drop restrictions on photos, tweets at Harper rallies

The Conservatives are backtracking on restrictions for supporters who want to take pictures and tweet at rallies with Stephen Harper.
Conservative Leader Stephen Harper shakes hands as supporters capture the moment on smartphones during a rally in Brampton, Ont. Monday. The party has dropped language about restrictions on photo-taking from tickets used to access the events. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press )

The Conservatives are backtracking on restrictions for supporters who want to take pictures and tweet at rallies with Stephen Harper.

People who wanted to attend a Harper event were told they had to be registered and vetted by the Conservative Party to receive a ticket.

As a part of that process, they also had to agree to not take pictures or transmit those images.

Now Conservative campaign spokesman Kory Teneycke says the rule was never enforced and has been removed from the party's standard legal disclaimer.

"That language is part of some legal boilerplate that was a part of your ticket. It was never the intention of the Conservative party to not have people using social media and taking pictures and sending tweets and making Facebook posts," Teneycke told CBC News on Monday.

The party still decides who can attend many events, like a campaign office or political rallies, leading some to criticize the campaign for distancing Harper from regular people.

But Teneycke said there are also times when Harper and his family meet everyday Canadians.

"So, it's like going to a bakery or a store or some sort of public venue. There's no invitation process round that. The people there meet the PM," he said.

Teneycke says this type of vetting process for rallies has been in place since the 2008 election. Only party supporters are invited to attend the official party events.

Former PMO spokesman Andrew MacDougall, in an online piece last week, wrote that limiting rallies to the party faithful is part of the Conservative strategy to reward supporters — and encourage them to talk up the party and its leader to friends, relatives and neighbours.


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