Crawl Across the Ocean

Monday, March 27, 2006

When They Said Reform, Reform, I Wonder What They Meant

The Calgary Grit is right, declaring war on the media seems like a poor plan for a government. If this is how Harper and co. are going to behave, they'd better hope the Canadian media is as scared of the right-wing noise machine as their American counterparts.

And you know, I like to think of this country as a democracy, so when I read things like this...
"Among a series of media access restrictions already imposed or being contemplated, the most inflammatory is a plan to bar reporters from staking out cabinet meetings, where they can ask departing ministers about their portfolios.

In order to stop the practice, the PMO is suggesting it will keep the weekly meetings secret."

...I find it upsetting. Democratic governments shouldn't be holding meetings in secret to avoid the media - do I have to spell this out?

The best line comes from Harper's communications director, Sandra Buckler,
"As for a series of complaints by the parliamentary press gallery about access, she said: "I don't think the average Canadian cares as long as they know their government is being well run."

Well, I like to think I'm pretty average, so speaking as a good old (down home, Joe Sixpack, salt of the earth) average Canadian, let me ask a simple question: how the hell am I supposed to know if the government is being well run if the whole operation is cloaked in a veil of secrecy. And if it is being well run, why are you so afraid of the media? (sorry, that was two questions, my bad)

On a less aggravating note, I applaud the CTV article writer for the best mental imagery of the week,
"Security on Parliament Hill barred reporters from attending a pair of Stephen Harper photo opportunities Monday as the Prime Ministers Office flexed its media messaging muscles."

I wonder what kind of exercises are required to build up your media messaging muscles, I may have been neglecting something at the gym...

But back on topic, consider this passage,
"The battle of wills came to a head Monday morning over -- of all things -- a photo-op of cancer stricken youngsters with the Canadian Cancer Society giving daffodils to Harper in his office.

Twelve Parliament Hill security officers, triple the usual contingent, lined the short hallway to Harper's office door to make sure no reporters entered. Sure enough, four reporters attempted to force the issue before an unusually large phalanx of news cameras.

None of the prime minister's staff emerged to explain the situation or deal with the media, despite repeated requests to do so. The beleaguered security officials -- who enjoy collegial relations with the media they see every day -- were left to play the heavies for the news cameras.

At one point, a TV reporter reached past a guard and knocked sharply on the prime minister's door while Harper was inside greeting the cancer society guests.

"It was children trying to give the prime minister flowers,'' said Buckler, who suggested those involved should do some soul searching"

If anyone wants to do some soul searching, I recommend it to the people who think that secrecy is good for democracy or those who think that trying to restrict the ability of the press to report on parliament is good for democracy or those who think that using children with cancer as a rhetorical device to try and make a point is good for democracy. I've looked through my soul and I know where I stand on these issues. Where does the Conservative government and its supporters stand?

Update: Dave from The Galloping Beaver adds some more commentary worth reading on this topic.
Post title adapted (with apologies) from 'The Future' by Leonard Cohen. Of course Cohen's version rhymed, but that's (0.001% of) why he's a genius and I'm just a lowly blogger.


  • Come back to us, Charles Lynch!

    (Check out "You Can't Print THAT!" of the library for one of the Grand Old Journos)

    By Blogger Thursday, at 10:01 PM  

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