Vancouver activist Sean Devlin forcibly removed from Stephen Harper event for wearing Alan Kurdi T-shirt

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      A Vancouver activist who was removed from an event featuring Prime Minister Stephen Harper this morning (September 3) has shared his account of what happened.

      In an email to media, Sean Devlin, an activist best known for his comedy work with the group Shit Harper Did, wrote he was forced to leave the campaign stop in Surrey after Conservative party staffers noticed he was wearing a shirt with a message on it that read, “Aylan should be here”.

      Those words are in reference to Alan Kurdi, a three-year-old Syrian boy whose body washed ashore on a beach in Turkey on Wednesday, September 2. (Initial media reports misspelled the boy's name as "Aylan".)

      Photographs of the child as he was found on the beach have caught the world’s attention and brought the issue of Middle East refugees to the forefront of Canada’s October election.

      The Ottawa Citizen reported Kurdi was part of a family that was trying to get to Canada with the help of relatives in the Vancouver suburb of Coquitlam. On September 2, the family was sailing for Greece when their boat sank of the coast of Turkey, leaving only the father to survive.

      The September 2 event featuring Harper was originally scheduled as a campaign stop but was delayed and then convened as an opportunity for the prime minister to speak on Kurdi and the family’s failed ambitions to immigrate to Canada.

      Here’s Devlin’s account of what happened:

      “After arriving at the event Devlin was initially asked to stand on stage behind the Prime Minister because, as a Conservative staffer said they ‘need more young faces’,” the email reads. “However, the Prime Minister's team spent 20 minutes arranging the human backdrop and during this time security officials noticed the writing on Devlin's shirt and asked him to leave the stage. He refused and as a result was forcibly removed by three members of the Prime Minister's security detail using pain compliance. He was arrested for obstruction of justice and resisting arrest. No charges have officially been laid, however Devlin was informed by police that charges could still be made at any point in the next 6 months.”

      This is not the first time Devlin has attempted to broadcast a political message by trying to share a stage with Harper. In January 2014, he was removed from a Vancouver Board of Trade meeting at the Fairmont Pacific Rim Hotel after he walked towards Harper and in front of television cameras while holding sign that read “Climate justice now”.

      At the September 3 event in Surrey, Harper went on to defend the Conservative government's record on refugees. “Our country has the most generous immigration and refugee system in the world,” he said.

      The New Democrat’s Thomas Mulcair and Liberal party leader Justin Trudeau reacted to news the Syrian family was trying to leave the Middle East for Canada at separate events this morning.

      “Over the past years, Canada has failed to be the country that we like to imagine it to be,” Trudeau said.

      Both candidates for prime minister in the October’s federal election called for the current government to do more to support refugees fleeing violence in Syria.




      Sep 3, 2015 at 5:16pm

      Yes, Aylan should be here - his father and mother should have never put him in such a dangerous and deadly situation.

      As it turns out, they didn't file any papers with the Canadian Government - the family in Canada having only partially filled out papers for Aylan's uncle.

      Can't blame Harper on this one. Sorry.


      Sep 3, 2015 at 5:22pm

      So he was the guy who walked onto the stage back in 2014 and yet staffers were going to use him as a backdrop! Great security.


      Sep 3, 2015 at 6:48pm

      If you want to make a scene, make a scene, but don't wear a stupid t-shirt, wait until the cameras are rolling, then start screaming! Any footage of him at all? If not, he wasted his opportunity.


      Sep 3, 2015 at 7:41pm

      Pain compliance?What's next ?Death compliance?


      Sep 3, 2015 at 8:53pm

      Let's see, people went to a rally to hear the Prime Minister speak and someone wanted to disrupt that and deprive him and the crowd of the opportunity to do so. Hmmmm.... Sounds like someone was grandstanding and couldn't resist the opportunity for his 15 minutes of fame


      Sep 3, 2015 at 9:37pm

      Harper and the Conservative Government does wear this and should wear this! No they did not kill the two boys and their mother directly but what in heck did Harper think would occur in Syria if more bombings to tackle ISIS/ISIL were to be doen? Is he that naive? That stupid? Is Harper that desensatized to what bombed people's homes and buildings and cities and loss of work and fear of being shelled or shot on a daily basis would be like?

      Once there is more bombings and the like to get ISIS/ISIL then this Harper Conservative government should have gone outof its way to reduce the non-combatant deaths by offering refugees a safe haven in Canada.

      We are NOT talking about immigrants, that is a seperate pool of people Canada takes and are covered under separate procedures. These are refugees from a war torn area, an area that the Harper Conservative Canadian Government is actively asking be targetted to get at ISIS/ISIL! The process to handle refugees should be faster because of thenature of their situation. Like someone in a burning building but the governmetn instead of calling the fire department is asking the people in the burning building to complete their refugee claimant forms in triplicfate and wait 6months or so before they are recognized as needing the fire department or not!

      These Syrian refugees cannot waot for this Harper Conservative government to didle dadle and wait to be processed. If Harper and the Conservative government don't know that then they are incompetent! If they know that and still do not do anything then they are complicit in anyone that dies! You can't have it both ways Harper. Either Canada is the best at handling refugees or your excuses are the worst spin for why Canada does not need to do anything differently so senseless deaths are avoided!

      Sep 4, 2015 at 4:46am

      BSOUTH,Your a GD fool.Are you that naive? That stupid?That you don,t realize that these people are beheaded and killed by ISIS daily .ARE YOU THAT DOPED UP that your trying to blame PM Harper for this trajedy like your heroes in the Liberal party and the NDP.Your as sick as they are.

      Thea Ostermann

      Sep 4, 2015 at 7:30am

      I don't think anyone has the right to blame Canada for this. His family put the children at risk - and we don't know the whole story on that either. We can't accept everyone - our infrastructure won't support it.

      The world as a whole should do more to keep these people in their own country and make that a safe place to live. Where is the UN in this?


      Sep 4, 2015 at 9:12am

      Great action! One t- shirt vs the Conservative spin machine.


      Sep 4, 2015 at 9:20am

      "Can't blame Harper on this one. Sorry."

      That's a lie. Just two years ago the cons were openly bragging about how they made the refugee claim process more difficult to dissuade people. The family couldn't get the paperwork together - and that wasn't an accident.

      In previous refugee crises, people came first and paperwork later. In previous crises, we flew to them, brought them here if they had support here, and sorted out the paperwork later. We didn't hide like moral cowards behind requirements for documents from a hostile, racist foreign government.

      The process is made difficult *on purpose*, to make conservative voters like you happy, and that kills people, including children.

      If Harper wasn't PM, that little boy would be in Vancouver, alive. The fake 20,000 spots set aside for such people wouldn't be a cruel lie, any previous Canadian government would have been true to its word and had those people here.