The idea of paid protesters is a favorite of the right, though as always, the thing you accuse your opponents of inevitably turns out to be the thing you're doing yourself (Trump paid actors to cheer his presidential campaign announcement and big industry groups pay actors to protest regulations that undermine their profits).
The Trump administration has been seeking to extradite Huawei heiress/exec Meng Wanzhou since they had her arrested by Canadian authorities in late 2018.
This week saw a crucial juncture in that legal wrangle, when Meng Wanzhou faced a judge over her objections to her extradition. Cameras were barred from the courtroom, but outside of it there was a lively demonstration of pro-Huawei/pro-China protesters, with a very different makeup to the usual protesters who have taken up Ms Weng's cause, who are primarily mainland Chinese students who are studying in Canada.
By contrast, these protesters were primarily not of Chinese origin, and they all sported red, homemade protest signs decrying the Trump administration, calling for "equal justice," and seeking the return of "Michael" (two Canadians, both named Michael, have been detained by Chinese authorities in retaliation for Meng's arrest).
Bob Mackin of The Breaker attended the protest and talked to these protesters and found them both curiously reticent to speak about their cause, and also singularly ignorant about the cause they were supporting. Mackin asked several of the protesters if they'd been paid to attend the event, but none admitted it at the time.
Subsequently, some of the protesters have contacted Mackin to say that they were paid to be there, and moreover, that they believed they were performing as extras in a music video. One told Mackin that they were confused when he started questioning them because no one had shouted "action." They also say they were never paid their promised $100.
The protesters say they were hired through an obfuscated chain of recruiters and producers. The video of the protesters did not play prominently in US and Canadian news, but it was featured heavily on Chinese state media, where it was used as evidence that everyday Canadians were outraged that their justice system had been hijacked by the Trump regime.
Mackin discusses the story in detail on the latest Canadaland podcast, where host Jesse Brown makes the excellent point that this illustrates just how difficult it is to field convincing paid protesters that stand up to even cursory scrutiny.
The video itself is a hilarious, sad pantomime wherein the protesters are seriously confused and increasingly alarmed as they realize what's going on.
"That was the promise [$100 to be in a music video], and then it was like, when there was all these cameras, for a long time I believed it was filming a scene where someone was coming out of a car," he said. "So I was genuinely like, OK, fine to do this. Then reporters start showing up and, I don't feel great about this anymore. I haven't done anything wrong."
Happening now: students parroting the message of ex-Chrétien chief of staff Eddie Goldenberg await Meng Wanzhou's arrival at the Law Courts. Are they paid to be here? #cdnpoli #bcpoli #humanrights pic.twitter.com/02HaTcJN1d
— theBreaker.news (@theBreakerNews) January 20, 2020
Exclusive: Man says he was tricked to be in pro-Meng Wanzhou protest [Bob Mackin/The Breaker]
(Image: thumbnail from a photo by Bob Mackin)