What journalists do
Canada's Leader Won't Talk to National Media
Prime Minister Stephen Harper, a Conservative, says the press corps is biased against him.
By Maggie Farley, Times Staff Writer
May 26, 2006
TORONTO — Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has declared he won't talk to the national media because they are biased against him, his latest move in a spat with the Parliament's press corps.
Since Harper's minority government took office after the Jan. 23 elections, his relations with the national media have become more and more strained. Determined to impose order on the traditionally chaotic press scrum in which reporters shout out questions, Harper said he would choose questioners from a pre-screened list.
The parliamentary media corps, which includes broadcast and print reporters from all over the country, worried that the new protocol would freeze out journalists perceived to be tough on the prime minister. After journalists refused to sign on to the list, Harper refused to take any questions.
On Tuesday, when Harper's press secretary announced there would be no questions after his announcement of aid to the Darfur region of Sudan, nearly two dozen reporters walked out, leaving the prime minister to make his statement in front of a single camera in a nearly empty room.
"We are responsible for asking questions, and he is responsible for answering them," said Yves Malo, the president of the Parliament's press gallery.
Malo acknowledged that the media culture in Ottawa was less decorous than other places, such as the White House, where reporters stand up when the president enters the room and don't interrupt while he is speaking.
He said that the once-unruly press corps had tried to compromise by forming a line behind a microphone, but even then Harper refused to recognize some questioners.
"Since the election, certain reporters have never gotten a question. No one is well served. We are not, the public is not, and the government is not," Malo said.
"I have trouble believing that, frankly, a Liberal prime minister would have this problem," he said. "The press gallery at the leadership level has taken an anti-Conservative view."
This is the polar opposite of what the lapdogs in Washington do.
posted by Steve @ 12:03:00 AM