Harper and the press gallery hit the road: 3 nights, 3 1/2 questions

For the record:

Members of the Parliamentary Press Gallery hit the road this week to travel, at their own expense, with Prime Minister Stephen Harper as he made his first appearance at the influential World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

We left on Tuesday evening (Ottawa time) and arrived in Davos mid-day on Wednesday (I’m counting that as night 1). Towards the end of that day, at the end of a photo opp with Zimbabwe prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai, the PMO allotted the assembled press one question in English and one in French. As is the normal practice for reporters travelling with the PM, we huddled and decided we needed one question on global financial system reform (FSR) and one question on Harper’s stated goal of getting the G8 to focus on maternal and child health health. We selected Heather Scoffield of The Canadian Press to pop the FSR question (she had been, until last year, the Globe and Mail’s ace-in-the-hole reporter for coverage of central banks and financial system reform) and we agreed CBC television’s Terry Milewski would query Harper on his perhaps admirable but rather vague ideas about focusing the G8 on maternal and child health during Canada’s year of being the G8 President.

And that was it for any questions from Canadian reporters travelling with Harper. Two questions.

The next day, Harper did a photo opp with former U.S. President Bill Clinton. We had been warned by Harper’s aides that we could not ask Harper a question at this photo opp. If you are a Harper supporter, you likely think this a perfectly reasonable prohibition. If you are a Harper opponent, you likely think we are lapdogs for caving to such a demand.

Fair enough. I don’t think we can win on this one either way.

But for what it’s worth, our readers and viewers, of course, include both Harper’s supporters and his detractors and reporters must remember that we write for all of them.

Harper’s detractors may think we should just give the metaphorical finger to such directives from the PMO but, at one photo opp while we were here, a reporter who did just that and asked a question at a photo opp, despite warnings not to, was immediately warned that, if she continued, reporters would no longer be allowed to attend such photo opps. That would not be good for our access would be curtailed even further. PMO staff also made veiled threats that that individual’s organization might suffer further sanction — all because of the impertinence of asking a question. If you are a media organization in Ottawa, these are no small consquences. If the PMO doesn’t like you, you can bet that every cabinet minister is going to give you the cold shoulder, too. I know, I know: Those who hate Harper say, tough! Ask away and bring on the consequences! Well, …  maybe: But if we did yell at him and disrupt his schedule and annoy his rather large RCMP bodyguards, what would we get for our trouble? Do you think he — or any public figure accosted this way — would say anything? Would you in the same situation if someone was yelling questions at you? I don’t care if you’re Judy Rebick, Stephen Harper, or Bobby Orr: If a TV crew starts chasing you with a reporter yelling at you, you are not going to say much. Now sometimes that’s part of the story: we’ll report that they would not answer questions and let a reader decide if that was appropriate behaviour. But remember: A good reporter remembers that they represent viewers of all political stripes. So if you’re going to hound a politician by yelling and screaming after him, you’d better be sure that an overwhelming majority of the people you represent — your viewers — would agree with that kind of behaviour. Some readers and viewers think I should yell and scream at Harper. But should I also yell and scream at Ignatieff if he isn’t forthcoming? At Layton? At Duceppe?

At the end fo the day, the best scenario here is to have a political leader — Jack Layton, step forward as a great example — who is perfectly willing to spend 20 minutes a day standing in front of reporters patiently answering whatever stupid questions we might put to him. Sometimes those questions will be softballs; sometimes they will be difficult questions. But whatever they are, the politicians cannot have prepared precise answers and must speak from the heart and with some candor when they answer.

And so back to the Clinton photo opp. As PMO had warned me not to ask Harper a question, I naturally hurled a question at Clinton as he and Harper emerged from their meeting. It would be great to hear from Clinton in any event but our thinking was that if we get Clinton to stop and talk to us, Harper’s going to have to stop too. It turns out that getting Clinton to talk to reporters is pretty easy. He enjoys it. He’s good at it. He knows that if he talks to us, he’s pushing his message and his agenda. But I’d never pitched a question to Clinton before so I figured if I yelled out a relative softball question, he’d stop and answer. So I shouted: “Mr. President, what do you make of Canada’s reaction to the Haiti earthquake?”

Easy question for him to answer and so he stopped.

But I didn’t even need to throw him an easy question because, after I did, he actually sought out the Canadian media from the few dozen reporters in the crowd scrumming him. He wanted to say something nice about Canada and Haiti. But before he said anything, Clinton turned to Harper and invited him to speak. (That’s the 1/2 question) Now the PMO may have been annoyed if I’d asked Harper something at what was, ostensibly, a photo opp, but Clinton can do pretty much what he wants.

When Clinton stopped Harper to have him answer questions, that opened the door for the rest of us. The Sun’s Peter Zimonjic asked if either he or Harper were worried that the world would forget about Haiti in 2 years. Good question. Some not bad answers from both men. After that, though, our third question of the PM over two days, his aides shut us down, had Harper do his handshake photo with Clinton, and hustled both out of our reach.

Now though, as I type this, Bill Clinton is not around and I could use him.

We’re in the PM’s plane on the tarmac at the airport in St. John’s. We’ve just landed here after flying from Davos, Switzerland. The PM, at the front of the plane, got off here but no reporters were allowed off the plane. While we were in the air, the PM announced 5 senate appointments; the Supreme Court ruled Omar Khadr’s human rights have been violated; Elections Canada is appealing a court ruling that the Conservatives won; and our GDP grew sharply last month. Sure would be nice to hear from the PM on any of those topics but he’s not talking to reporters today. He’ll give a speech tonight in St. John’s but then leave the podium — without taking any questions — for a private meeting with Premier Danny Wiliams and then he’ll take the Challenger back to Ottawa.

Now, as I said, I’m paid to represent a broad cross-section of readers. How do you feel? Is the prime minister perfectly right to ignore our attempts to ask him how he feels about these issues? Or are you upset that he doesn’t provide a little more information about how he feels about these issues? Comments below. …

27 thoughts on “Harper and the press gallery hit the road: 3 nights, 3 1/2 questions”

  1. David, this sounds like just another media whine, particularly when you start off saying the media travelled “at their own expense”. Are you trying to say the taxpayer should pay for the media costs ?
    Correct me if I'm wrong, but during the trip to Davos, the PM took part in a number of question and answer forums where some of the distinguished invitees asked him about economic policy, the environment, etc. Granted the media didn't get to ask questions, but don't you think Canadians might have been just as interested in what Bill Gates for instance wanted to talk about, rather than listening to a couple of questions put together by the media committee. Those questions, and the PM's responses would tell Canadians a whole lot more about how people in the rest of the world view Canada and our Prime Minister than anything the MSM can come up with.
    So Stephen Harper is not as comfortable with the media as Bill Clinton. Get over it and learn to deal with it. This idea that only questions posed by the great Canadian media are of any validity is just childish and egocentric.

  2. I guess Jad thinks the freedom of the press as an integral part of our democracy is childish, too…
    Let's just read the PMO press releases and take their word for everything like good little sheep, shall we?

  3. No I don't think the freedom of the press is childish but that is a completely different issue. The issue here is the media whining because they don't get the availability with the PM they think they are entitled to. The issue is that the media want to show up at press conferences and ask questions they already know the answers to, and then think they have done a good day's work.
    “one question on global financial system reform (FSR) and one question on Harper's stated goal of getting the G8 to focus on maternal and child health health. “
    What exactly did they think they were going to get in answer to these questions that was not already in the press release ?
    BTW, freedom of the press is ” is the freedom of communication and expression through vehicles including various electronic media and published materials. “ It has everything to do with being able to communicate, and nothing to do with how many questions the MSM is entitled to expect.

  4. Interesting article … I appreciate your acknowlegement that different viewers and readers may have different interpretations of events depending on their own political views.
    I'm not sure what to make of this ongoing story about Harper's efforts to 'control the media' … I'm not partisan, but I tend to think concerns are somewhat overblown. It seems to me that Harper does provide fullsome answers on important issues; but as you point out, it is usually on his own terms. But one thing you can say about Harper is that he addresses most issues head-on and eventualy takes clear and thoughtful decisions (whether you agree with them or not).
    Having said that, I am also disappointed Harper wouldn't take more opportunities to talk to the media while in close quarters on the Challenger like that, and your story about the PMO warning about questions at photo opps does sound heavy-handed.
    Could it be that Harper is just less comfortable speaking off-the-cuff, whereas Clinton enjoys it? Or maybe its because Clinton doesn't have to worry re-election. Are there any allowances to be made for personal style or political circumstance?
    Maybe the PMO simply wants to ensure the Davos trip gets into the news cycle, and who can blame them. The Opposition have been very successful at engineering political scandals that drown out domestic coverage of Harper's international trips. For example I recall Keith Boag asking whether the government bugged Julie Couilard's bed while Harper was in France – it was unfounded and just silly, but all the coverage that week was about Bernier's ex-girlfriend instead of Harper's trip abroad. In other words, what's wrong with the PMO trying to craft their message?
    I predict the PM will be back in front of the cameras next week, and none of those questions will go unanswered. Does he really have to scrum at every opportunity in order to maintain the favour of the press gallery? I'm not sure Jack Layton is any more successful by being more accessible.

  5. Jad at 02:53 PM:
    “This idea that only questions posed by the great Canadian media are of any validity is just childish and egocentric.”
    Not only that. As a consumer of political news, it’s tiresome having to listen to some of the repetitive questions asked of politicians, or the interpretations of the kind “in other words, what you're saying is …” and then reading or hearing misinterpretations of what the politician has said anyway, or outright ridicule of whatever initiative the politician puts forward.
    I also wonder why the media is far more forgiving, if I can use that word, of other politicians.
    “… he doesn't really like it and he is asking reporters to be a little more respectful; to stand back. Stand back behind the camera line. He wants them at least five feet away.” 6,600
    That was Dalton McGuinty saying that. Were there the kind of accusations hurled at him as there have been against Harper, of his wanting to control the press? I doubt it.
    I’ve watched scrums of MPs coming out of QP. The camera pans from whoever seems the most likely to utter the required 15-second clip usable on the nightly news. Reporters swarm in mid-way and fly off to more interesting prey, pecking at parts of the politicians’ responses. You’ll never convince me that reporters have gotten the full story, what with all the surrounding noise and confusion.
    Oh, and then there’s the mesmerized look some journalists get when a Liberal or NDP politician is talking, but the minute a Conservative opens his mouth, it’s time to interrupt the speaker.
    And then, of course, there’s the famous list. President Obama, who chooses the reporters allowed to ask him questions, is the great communicator as far as the Canadian media is concerned. Yet if our PM does it, it’s because he’s a control freak.
    And finally, this partisan appreciates the kind of reasonable comment made by Zoop at 06:36 PM.

  6. Quick point, Jad. I point out that we pay our way on these things not to complain but to note that taxpayers are not paying for the media to follow him around. (Well, except for CBC, I suppose but I digress…)
    And you're quite right: We have no special right to ask any question. But we're you're proxy — or we ought to remember that we are. And those questions from Gates, etc. came yesterday. Today, Harper appointed Senators, the Supreme Court ruled on Omar Khadr, and lots of other things happened that I thought — as your proxy — you might be interested in hearing what your elected leader thought about those developments. If you don't care, you don't care. Fine with me.

  7. How about these questions on Harper's stated goal of using the G8 to improve maternal and child health (which many might believe to be a laudable goal): Prime Minister, could you give us some more details on this laudable goal? How will we do this? What will it cost? Won't this add to the deficit you've vowed to pay down? Will the Canadian government use the G8 focus to pay special attention, to the health of poor children in Canada, particularly on First Nations reserves? I don't know the answers to those questions but they all seem pretty reasonable to me.

  8. Could it possibly be because he has been so shabbily treated by the media as a whole? Often his words are taken out of context or spun or intentionally misinterpreted. It upsets me when we are only shown a part of the Prime Minister's speech or press conference, which is interrupted only to have a couple of journalists have a discussion (too often with a sneer) with their interpretation of his motives in saying what he had just said, etc. etc. I want to hear the whole thing and not have it filtered through a journalist. Is that unreasonable? When the Prime Minister was in the North, he was making an announcement which was cut short, and journalists began talking between themselves. I phoned CBC to complain, because, I said, I want to make up my own mind about what he says. The young man I talked to began to argue with me… which really made me mad. It's for them to decide what we will or will not hear.
    As an example, I understand that the Swiss escorted your plane in a display of honour for our Prime Minister, something which they rarely do. Why didn't you comment on that, David, in the details of your trip with the Prime Minister? This seems momentous and a great tribute to Canada's Prime Minister. Did you think it was not worthy of mention? I learned about it through a blog, not the main stream media that pays big bucks to ride to exotic places.
    That's what I mean by fairness. A little slip is blown up out of proportion; an honour is ignored.

  9. Who or what kept reporters on the plane in Newfoundland? The RCMP? Threats of reduced access to the PM?
    Does the PM and his entourage have to go through a full body scanner when they travel by air?

  10. I appreciate your input, and I also appreciate that in asking your questions you're thinking about a varied audience.
    But to your questions … Remember what Mr. Ignatieff replies whenever someone asks him for details on some of his … his ideas, his plans, his policies? Ignatieff smiles that Cheshire cat smile of his and answers “I don't want to scoop myself!”
    A long-winded way of reminding you that this new initiative of the Prime Minister's is something he wants to showcase at the G8 & G20 meetings. Why do you want him to scoop himself? It would be stale news by the time the G8 & G20 meetings convened.
    Anyway, the naysayers have already started questioning his sincerity, his motivation, etc. so better to unveil it at the G8-G20 meetings rather than now.
    As for how this new initiative would apply to First Nations, there has already been some related legislation proposed, Bill C-8:
    “An Act respecting family homes situated on First Nation reserves and matrimonial interests or rights in or to structures and lands situated on those reserves.”
    Unfortunately, Bill C-8 has met with some opposition both from some First Nations organizations and the Official Opposition as well.
    From Hansard, Mr. Bruce Stanton (Simcoe North, CPC) in May, 2009:
    “On that point, the Liberals have moved what is known as a six month hoist amendment. …”
    And Bob Rae: “I am in support of the hoist motion. I hope it is successful. If it is not successful, the bill will go to committee. That is what the Bloc and the NDP have said they think it should do. …”
    So the bill apparently did not go beyond second reading.

  11. Thanks for the highly interesting and valuable post. I really appreciate your 'inside baseball' posts. While criticism of the media is legit, I think many of us jump to criticism without, often, getting a glimpse like this one at the realities of how you do your job.
    I am particularly interested with your focus on the the different interpretations of various readers will respond to not only what you write but how you do your job more generally. While, like Zoop, I appreciate your realization that “different viewers and readers may have different interpretations of events depending on their own political views” I am somewhat more surprised by your statement “A good reporter remembers that they represent viewers of all political stripes”.
    I guess I had never thought of the role of a journalist as representative, per se, especially in a manner that influences how you do your job. I am doubly perplexed to the degree that I, on one hand, find myself somewhat unsettled by that as a philosophy of journalism and on other firmly believe that you are one of our best journalists on my shortlist of daily reads.
    Perhaps I am making too much of the point? I know this is going to sound somewhat Pollyannaish but I am uncomfortable with the sense that news I am reading is influenced by how the constituencies of different parties/leaders will react to it.
    As far as chasing after the PM or yelling questions. I am not a big fan of either, but I am firmly in the camp of you guys should stop 'covering' him live. I can appreciate how hard a situation that it is but he treats the Canadian press with contempt. There are a lot of ways that he can be covered effectively without following to events where he ignores you, or his office will only give anonymous briefings or whatever. Some of the best journalism of the past year on what the government was/is doing happened no where near a live Prime Ministerial event (e.g., you and your colleagues work on the stimulus spending; Paul Well's latest on the happenings of Rights and Democracy, etc). I would rather the money spent by employers on flying you to events where you are lucky to get one pooled question a day was funneled into bolstering more of the difficult digging that keeps up better informed (ps how does your employer feel about the cost of sending you to Davos to not be allowed to ask a question… perhaps a future post?).

  12. How about this?
    The press gallery is simply doing its job, when it persists in trying to get the PM to answer its questions.
    The PM is certainly within his rights to refuse to. But he and his staff don't look very good when they keep on doing that, and they pay somewhat in the court of public opinion. On the other hand, they benefit themselves somewhat by managing the message that goes out — which presumably is why they still do it.
    And the dance goes on — press and government relations in a liberal democracy.

  13. David, it seems to me that this issue with Harper and the press goes far beyond simple 'politics' of whatever persuasion. Canadians have a right to expect their elected representatives, government and opposition, to be willing to take questions that we want answers to. By muzzling the press, Harper deprives us all of our right to hold him and his government accountable. We do not want you to 'yell and scream' at anyone; just tell us the truth, the whole truth, and we can decide for ourselves whether or not we are being well served by our elected representatives.

  14. Harper gets away with it because you guys have rolled over for him. You've allowed him to define you, and now he confines you.
    The British press would never let their MPs or PMs get away with this kind of bullying. Grow a pair and stop whining.
    And, by the way, the press corps are not supposed to “represent” anybody. They're supposed to seek out and report the facts.

  15. Thanks for taking the time to respond, David. As someone else says further down, you provide a great “inside baseball” look at how reporters think.
    It's not that I don't care about what the PM has to say on Khadr or the Senate appointments, but you and I both know he is not going to say anything different from the press release, so why bother asking.
    I get the impression that reporters only think they are truly “reporting” when they are asking questions. But you were in Davos to cover an international event, so why milk the domestic agenda. If the PM won't answer questions, get a little creative. There were reports of his speech in the media here (although I don't believe I noticed your byline !), but virtually nothing about how it was received, virtually nothing about the Q and A segments. Don't assume the Canadian people are only interested in headlines.
    To be honest, if I was the PM and got asked a question about FSR, I would be tempted to say, “Look guys, I just gave a 30 minute speech on the subject. What exactly did you not understand ?”
    The impression I get, and feel free to correct me, is that the Canadian media get off the plane in Davos, or wherever, and huddle around together like a flock of geese trying to track down the PM and shout out a couple of questions. If you are there at these international conferences, get out and about and do some reporting on the general tone of things, or stay home and save the money. Anyone and his brother can take a copy of the speech and write an article about it, but you can only convey the flavour of an international forum if you are actually there and see and hear the participants.

  16. Fair enough, re: defining freedom of the press.
    I think tigerinexile below has it right… he's muzzling himself, and it doesn't look good.
    I think it's a cause-and-effect relationship.. and it's not just this one example that Akin brings up that disturbs me about Harper's practices with the media/people. If Harper thinks having as much control as possible over how many questions he receives and when he receives them, and then limiting them as much as possible, is a good strategy with the media, then people who support him shouldn't be surprised when the media comes up with articles and stories based on pure speculation. And then the media shouldn't be criticized, because they're not being allowed to gain the information they need to do their jobs. All of us, the public, suffers, because we don't get to ask the PM the hard questions. Sure, we have our official opposition party to question him (but hey, when you suspend Parliament twice in a year, we don't even have that mechanism to keep him honest!), but as we all know, they have their own agendas.
    A press release or speech or any prepared statement only says what the organization wants people to hear. If we base our opinion on what Harper is doing on his website or press releases, then we should just blindly praise him, because everything he puts out there is going to be positive. I think it's fundamentally dangerous to have the arrogance to try and muzzle yourself – or the media, by proxy – because it doesn't let anyone tell any other side of the story.
    Most people don't care enough about what our political leaders do or say and don't bother digging for what the PM didn't say or ways he's contradicted himself or whatever; that's what our media is for. Biased or slanted or whatever, that's their job, and it's an erosion of democracy to hinder them from doing their jobs, in my opinion.

  17. Since you “huddled & decided” on which question & who would ask the questions why don't you all get together & decide that you will ask questions of the PM or you will report to the public that the PM and his office (who are working for the Canadian Citizens – us) does not like to answer any questions & will not give access to anyone who ask pointed & specific questions.
    These people work (or at the moment don't work except to have photo ops) for us and if you reported on them not coming forth with answers to questions that we would like to hear then maybe we would like know & have our say on it at the next elections.

  18. A couple of more points on this topic.
    1. If the PM is making an announcement, usually followed by some questions from the press, and President Obama is scheduled to speak at around the same time, which speech do you think the Canadian news networks will cover?
    I have seen Newsworld & CPAC broadcast Obama's speeches in their entirety, yet the PM's speeches and pressers are often given short shrift, with only a few short clips chosen to illustrate a particular point the talking head wishes to make.
    2. Many journalists, be they op-ed writers or reporters – and those lines are often blurred – write blog posts in addition to their columns or articles. Some of those same journalists, while complaining about the lack of openness on the government's part and accusing the PM of muzzling his ministers, are not shy about suppressing some comments which may be critical of points in their columns.
    I know the comments here are usually not moderated. I wonder what Mr. Akin thinks about opening up journalists' columns and articles to readers' comments, and whether those that criticize the column/blog post should be suppressed, even though they conform to the rules of propriety.
    3. Finally, I can't help laughing at commenters who sign in as “Anonymous” blustering “grow a pair.” What are they afraid of? Why not choose a moniker to go by?

  19. Very interesting article and worrisome.
    The PM is a master at controlling the media and the message. I feel very troubled when journalists ask only soft questions in order to appease this punitive leader. I can't think of too many instances when Harper has had the guts to face questions from the general public and obviously his communications with the Press is severely limited. The problem with this is that he simply ignores issues which are problematic to him. You would have thought that thousands of Canadians weren't up in arms over the prorogation and the issue would already be dead if the people hadn't persisted through in their outcry over the internet and rallies and through editorial letters. I think that journalist have to step up to the plate because otherwise they are complicit in the loss of free speech and free press in Canada. I think this is a vital challenge before this leader has an opportunity to clamp down even further.

  20. The PM is accountable to the Canadian Public, and while a number of media personalities are not as objective as they should be, they do have the responsibility of asking questions on behalf of the public. Harper's control of the media and refusal to answer questions is a form of censorship. While I can appreciate the 'some access is better than no access' arguement, it is essentially making the media pawns. Perhaps if the media as a whole were to establish its own rules (ie: to receive coverage of photo ops, the PM must include 15 min of questions) when dealing with the PMO we might get back to some degree of accountability. With parliament prorogued we don't have opposition members to ask the tough questions.

  21. Mr. Harper is accountable to the public. He serves Canadians. The media needs to stop paying him lip service, and start acting like real reporters.
    If he will not answer your questions, refuse to publish his press releases and his statements. If he won't take questions, no publishing of photo ops.
    For some reason, everyone from the opposition to the media only seems to concentrate on what they will lose if they do not have Harper's favour, and in doing so, they forget what Harper owes to Canadians, and to those who should be doing their jobs.
    Is Harper Caesar that he has to have to RCMP guards intimidate reporters?
    If Harper will not answer questions, go to the opposition. Publish questions and photo ops from the opposition parties, and ignore the prime minister until he understands who is serving who.
    Mr. Harper has forgotten who he serves. Canada is not Mr. Harper's personal fiefdom. He was elected, and taxpayers pay his salary. It is the job of reporters and the opposition to question him to the best of their ability.
    If Mr. Harper does not have the courage to take questions, he does not belong in politics.
    Mr. Harper controls access to himself, the media controls information that goes out to the public.
    Mr. Harper has made the media forget who holds all the cards in that situation, because it's not him.
    Shut him out, and shut him off until he has the decency to take real questions and give real answers.
    If Mr. Harper can't give you more than a press release because he's afraid he'll go “off message”, stop publishing the press release.
    If he will not submit to questions, you are not doing true reporting. You are merely a mouthpiece for a government, and you might as well be taking Tory money, because you're not earning your paycheck as a reporter.

  22. To all the Harper supporters here who think that the media should just shut up with the questions and be satisfied with a PMO press release or speech, that their job is to regurgitate government spin… I ask, honestly, for you to imagine if they had taken that approach under Chretien or if the Liberals had shut them up in a plane to avoid difficult questions?
    I'm not wondering about your reaction if that had been done – we all know you would be saying the exact same thing as the Harper detractors here, except louder and with more anger and more discussion about how The Media (it's a single monolithic entity afterall) is inherently biased and hates conservatives.
    No, I'm wondering what Canada would look like. For all the accusations of bias in The Media, it was the dogged work of two journalists who uncovered the sponsorship scandal and it was the dogged, unrestrained questions of PMO talking points that added to the pressure that led to Martin calling the Gomery Inquiry which killed them.
    So when a government tries to duck the media, our proxy, it is not the end of the world but it is also quite concerning, especially with a government that has already a long history in its short reign of avoiding accountability and using government for highly partisan purposes.
    I don't know what the answer is because we all know how vindictive this PMO is if you don't regurgitate their talking points.
    I think over time such behaviour by a government is self defeating. Eventually an issue will come up where the government needs The Media to press its case, get its message out, like during an election or when a move to avoid accountability backfires like prorogation. Without surprise, The Media you've been bashing and threatening and punishing and blacklisting… isn't as keen to regurgitate your talking points unfact-checked (like they are doing now with the claims that Liberal senators have been blocking legislation for example; simple fact checking proves the PMO spin wrong) or, if it does, gives the opposition equal space.

  23. When Parliament is prorogued, he owes it to Canadians even MORE to answer questions. He's entering into another trade agreement without Parliamentary debate. Someone besides Harper should have a say.

  24. Yes! This times 1000.
    I don't care if you're Liberal, Conservative, Green, NDP – if you want to run the country, part of your job is to maintain a relationship with the press. If you don't want to deal with the press, then don't become Prime Minister.
    If you can get enough reporters together in a press conference to not abide by the “rules” dictated by the PMO, what are they going to do? Ban the Globe & Mail, CBC, CTV and the Toronto Star? (to name a few?) You can bet that would be reported, and fast, and that the ban would quite quickly be lifted.
    I don't know what the others on this board want, but I want a press that can report the facts and let me decide for myself. Staged photo ops and regurgitated press releases are a far cry from what the media should be reporting, and aren't necessarily the best source for “facts.” Funneling everything from Environment Canada to communications from my local MP through the PMO is guaranteed to give the Canadian public a false image of how well our government is performing.

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