New Democrats complain about the media's Liberal obsession

Ever since I arrived on Parliament Hill in 2005, I’ve heard complaints from New Democrats that they can’t get any respect from the Parliamentary Press Gallery. I didn’t think much, at first, of their complaints. After all, they were the third fourth party and none of the press gallery colleagues I was getting to know seriously thought they’d ever be the government. Parliament Hill reporters paid attention to them in minority parliaments only when their votes mattered on a confidence motion. Continue reading New Democrats complain about the media's Liberal obsession

The Longer He's Prime Minister

PM-Elect Harper
i snapped this pic on Stephen Harper’s first day as prime minister-elect, the day after the 2006 general election, on his campaign plane winging it back from Calgary to Ottawa. This sight — Harper scrumming reporters on his plane or anywhere else was about to become an increasingly rare sight and, seven years on, is something almost never seen.

I’ve just finished reading Paul Wells’ The Longer I’m Prime Minister, a book I’m happy to recommend to Harper-haters and Harper-lovers alike largely because of the way Wells treats his subject:

I offer no blanket endorsement of the twenty-second prime minister. Much of what he has done makes me angry; much more is open to serious debate. But too many people in this country have spent too much time trying to ignore Harper, or to dismiss him, or, with varying degrees of ineptitude, to defeat him. He endures. I figure it is not too soon to try to understand hi . . . Readers who still cannot bring themselves to believe he is the elected prime minister of this country not only misunderstand Stephen Harper. They also misunderstand Canada..

The Harper-lovers will love paragraphs like this: Continue reading The Longer He's Prime Minister

Conservatives raise money on fight they picked with the Press Gallery

Sun Media and Sun News Network did not boycott the PM’s speech. While I, along with other reporters, was denied entry to the caucus room where Harper spoke, TV camera operators and one pool reporter were permitted by the PMO to attend and film his speech. Some news organizations found those conditions unacceptable and decided that if all reporters could not attend (as has been the usual practice) then no camera operators from CBC, CTV, Global and other networks would attend, neither would a pool reporter, and  they would simply not cover his morning speech.

I firmly believe that every news organization should always do what it believes is best for its viewers and readers  but, as we  decided our viewers and readers were best served by trying to cover the PM’s speech, our camera operator recorded the speech (and we broadcast it) even though I could not be in the room to watch it.  And so, in the end, one camera — ours — and no reporter, not even a pool reporter, saw the speech.

One other reason I preferred to avoid  participating in a boycott was  because I believed the PMO was looking to pick a fight with the Parliamentary Press Gallery to help with fundraising and to rally the Conservative base. In my view, it’s probably not a helpful thing for a group of journalists to be any party’s fundraising foil.  Make no mistake: The PMO picked this fight. But I, for one, would rather find other ways to fight for more access and transparency than provide a politician with an excuse to mobilize a political party’s base.

And sure enough, this evening, the Conservative Party of Canada is out raising money for re-election thanks to the Parliamentary Press Gallery. I’m certain you can expect more letters like this: Continue reading Conservatives raise money on fight they picked with the Press Gallery