LAVAL - For just the second time in this campaign, a Conservative party rally and speech by leader Stephen Harper was disrupted by protesters who made it past security screening and got inside a pep rally.
What appeared to be three demonstrators stood up just as Harper began to speak, and unfurled banners that read "Stop Global Warming." Once again members of the security detail pounced, ripping the banners out of their hands and quickly hustling them out the door.
Party supporters leapt to their feet and began cheering "Harper, Harper" to drown out and distract from the ouster of the interlopers.
It's an unusual sight. Only once before, in Rockland, Ontario, did a single protester get past the party's gatekeepers at the door.
Here in Laval, outside the rally, there were other protesters, members of FRAPU, a group that advocates for affordable social housing. On the weekend, 5,000 protesters from many groups, women's advocates and labour unions included, protested against Harper.
The Conservatives, who just a few short weeks ago looked as if they might increase their 10 seats in Quebec, now are in a hard-fought battle with the Bloc Québécois, which has recovered in the polls.
Harper made an impassioned pitch for support here, saying Quebeckers should vote Conservative to be "at the table" and not just in outside "in the corridors," as BQ leader Gilles Duceppe wants, said Harper.
"The Conservative party wants Quebecers on the inside," Harper added.
Except during its campaign rallies, perhaps.