Stephen Harper vs. the media

Conservative leader refuses to explain the limits he places on reporters


Prime Minister Stephen Harper held his news conference Thursday and declined to tell journalists—corralled behind a yellow fence over 12 metres away—why he limits the daily encounters to just five questions. Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff and NDP leader Jack Layton place no such limits on questions. When pressed about the dearth of communication with the media, Harper ignored the question. Harper appears intent on limiting his exposure to the public. He has not done any “walkabouts” on city streets; photo-ops have been pre-arranged; and he gives just one news conference per day, where journalists who are travelling with his campaign tour are, as a group, only allowed to ask four questions, with one additional question by a local journalist.

Postmedia Network

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Stephen Harper vs. the media


  2. The media has from the begining not liked Harper, I do not think that he has had fair treatment from the media.

    • It depends on what you consider to be 'fair'. The media are just another interest group, and they have to be appealed to. You have to make them feel that you respect the power their job holds, you have to make them feel like they're getting past the script and into fresh territory, and you have to make them see that you're approachable.

      Media isn't an extension of a party's or government's comm department and anyone who thinks otherwise is deluding themselves.

      • The press is not a special interest group ; it is the 'fourth estate,' – the primary means by which the Canadian public is kept abreast of the activities of its elected officials. A free and open press that has unfettered access to public officials and the institutions they represent is vital to the functioning of a democratic state. Harper is answerable to us, the Canadian people, and the press serves a very important role in keeping him and those about him accountable. His contempt for the press is an extension of his autocratic and arrogant nature.

        • Nothing in my post disagrees with what you've written in your post, except the label by which we refer to them. If it makes you feel better, bureaucrats are also an interest group, industry and other non-government organizations are interest groups, various sets of constituents are an interest group, international governments can be an interest group; the demands of all must be balanced.

          The fact you've highlighted a particularly important interest group does not diminish the fact that their needs do need to be balanced; completely unfettered access would mean that the Prime Minister could never get anything done at all, as all his time would be taken up with interviews.

          That said, Harper is doing a pretty poor job of balancing the needs of various interest groups these days.

    • Oh! poor baby, the big bad media are bullying him!. I think not, he set the bar. with his attack ads.
      His fear of democracy could be his undoing Harper shows every sign that he is a loser.
      He has handed the over momentum and the message, Coalition every time he mentions it.
      As they say be careful what you wish for.
      Now the Great One is wimping out on the debate his bully-boy threat has backfired.

    • If that's the case, he should call them out. State his misgivings. But, if he's not being forthright, he should explain exactly why.

    • And.. your point is?

      If life was fair, we wouldn't need governments.

      Besides, if he doesn't like the media being unfair to him, perhaps he should have picked a different choice of vocation than one that is, by definition, heavily in the media.

    • I think Stephen Harper has been given a pass by the media for years and it's about time they treated him like the public servant he is. All our previous leaders walked through media scrums and took questions on the fly — All The Time. It's called accountability and it's how we have always done democracy in Canada.

      Mr Harper has demanded the kid gloves treatment the US media traditionally gives its President and has gotten it til now. Looks like the gloves are coming off.

  3. Mr Harper's contempt for the media is almost as blatant as his contempt for Canadian voters. Perhaps if the media had bothered with questions over the last five years instead of dutifully recording the spin Dimtri spews or going gaga over his stage performances we might actually have gotten some answers..
    The media needs to accept responsiblity for their part for failing to do their jobs. Good luck putting that toothpaste back in the tube.

  4. The tone and content of the leader above tells anyone who is interested all one needs to know about the media. In canada, it is biased, ignorant of the real issues, and only interested in parliamentary gossip and worse And nothing in the media can be trusted to fairly represent what was said. And you ask why Harper rations contact with the media. That is, if you can believe what the lead article above says. I personally doubt even that.

    • Whereas, in contrast, your posts are the epitome of truth and accuracy.

    • excanuck
      There is video readily available.

      Healthy skepticism is a healthy thing – simply disbelieving everything that you don't want to believe is just willful ignorance.

  5. Can't say the media has ever been very warm and fuzzy re SH. Some do go over the top, i.e. Scott Reid

    "Stephen Harper is the most dangerous animal lurking in the jungles of Parliament. He is a threat to the future viability of the Liberals. A blood simple opponent of the NDP and the only serious contemporary challenge to the Bloc Quebecois. Without him, his party is an unlikely combination of Reform Party leftovers, Harris refugees and Red Tory desperates. They don't matter or even exist without Mr. Harper. So before you think a moment longer, opposition leaders, think on that.

    And if that's not compelling enough, remember: He doesn't play to win. He plays to conquer. Under his guidance, the public interest is always subjugated to his personal political advancement. And he poisons Parliament with an extreme, bare-fanged breed of partisanship that has no hope of repair until he is banished."

    • Go Scott Reid!

    • Stay classy Liberals….lol….stay classy.

  6. There is media and then there is activists such as the Toronto Star. Harper would rather be working in Ottawa on the economy… but… so he is out there, not hidden, and not with a script in hand.

    All of you of the left I predict a Conservative Majority. If interestd check this weblog piece. Many journalists and columnusts read my satirical yet serious weblog. Even Andre Coyne of Macleans.

    • What can we say.. people like Epic Fails

  7. How appropriate keeping the Liberal party media behind a "yellow fence"… the perfect colour for yellow "journalism". The Liberal party media are having a difficult time creating their twisted narratives, and they hate the fact that PM Harper keeps warning Canadians about the Liberal/Separatist coalition. The media making themselves the story illustrates their overt bias against the Conservatives and their frustration at not being able to set the Liberal agenda. The media are a disgrace.

  8. Simple really. It does not matter what he gives to the media or with holds from them, they are bound and determined to screw him, so, screw them. I would do the same thing. Damned if he does and if he doesn't, so to hell with the leftist media. He has better things to do.

    • Why doesn't he just come out and say that? Go on a 'left-wing media' rant to explain to the voters why he's choosing to only certain answers about certain things. Call the leftists out, I say.

      • I agree, I think he should, but it would only get spun again and the message would not get out. That is the point, he can never get out what he really wants to say because it gets lost in translation. But you are right in essence.

        • I mean, there's no way that strategy won't backfire with undecided voters. None at all.

          • Either way he has apparently taken your advise so we both stand corrected.

            I think it will back fire. At best we are looking at a minority, either Con or Liberal. I am tired of the instability of minority governments. That's my real beef!

    • The media tries to screw all politicians. That's their job. Feet to the fire and such. Keeps them on their toes, which is good for democracy. Politicians in a democracy are supposed to stand up and take it, and better yet, act and make policies in such a way that they welcome the opportunity to defend their positions.

      • Unless they are favored by the press, like Iggy, in which case questions are to be lobbed in such a way as to give him every opportunity to look good. Then of course we do not parse everything he says in reply, unless he is not in favor, aka Harper.

        • Since he became leader, Ignatieff has been tarred by the press as a thoroughly ineffective leader (which was probably pretty accurate). If you can't see that, then it's probably you not the media who are biased.

          • Ignatieff is doing a fine job of tarring himself. Recent election promise “increasing” Canada Pension contributions from working folks.

            Didn’t the liberal party scoop Employment Insurance and Canada Pension money to balance (cook) their books , showing a surplus of funds?

    • Please explain the source of the supposed "left wing" or Liberal bias in our corporate media. These are large corporations who have largely benefited from the big spending of Stephen Harper and the CPC advertising budget. They would no doubt prefer the corporate tax cuts to remain in place.

      Take your time.

  9. Harper cannot improvise because he is limited and he is smart enough to know he is limited. If he interacted with the press openly he would be destroyed because his lack of depth and neo con agenda would be revealed.

  10. yay he's smart. i don't really care if he's good at that part of the job. it's part of the job. our democracy needs the the 5th estate. It must be able to question the head of our country. I've read this a couple of places now. This story might grow and hurt him, as well it should any leader who hides.

    • That would make sense if we had a 5th Estate. Unfortunately we only have the taxpayer subsidized Liberal party media, and they only care about one thing… getting the corrupt Liberal party "back to power", while giving them an absolute free ride.

    • trouble is you don't have a fifth estate but a fifth column determined to turn Canada into another pansy state aka eu.

  11. im sure that's a leader the canadian people want : slow to deliver and quick to dodge.

  12. Don't think the plight of the National media is going to be of great concern to most Canadians. I think most of us ignore them, knowning its biased nature. Locally maybe we pay a bit more attention. I always thought Conrad Black got it about right:
    "My experience with journalists authorizes me to record that a very large number of them are ignorant, lazy, opinionated, intellectually dishonest, and inadequately supervised. The ‘profession' is heavily cluttered with abrasive youngsters who substitute ‘commitment' for insight, and to a lesser extent, with aged hacks toiling through a miasma of mounting decrepitude. Alcoholism is endemic in both groups"

    • You've just made me admire Conrad Black just a little more. Not for his business ethics, perhaps, but for his insight and his wonderful way of expressing an idea.

  13. scary – and we might be even vote him back in….just to think that most Canadians find it ridiculous, puzzling, almost laughable that George Bush got re-elected – I think Canadian voters are about to drink the same kool-aid that was served back then!

  14. Why won't PM Harper cuddle with the vipers of the Liberal party press corp. LOL! The Liberal party media should just stick to creating and manufacturing "scandals" against the Conservatives and continue the free ride for the American candidate Iggo and the Separatists. The Liberal party media are angry that PM Harper won't help them to destroy him. The Liberal party media whining that PM Harper won't help them manufacture their narratives is quite funny though.

    • Please explain the source of the supposed "left wing" or Liberal bias in our corporate media. These are large corporations who have largely benefited from the big spending of Stephen Harper and the CPC advertising budget. They would no doubt prefer the corporate tax cuts to remain in place.

      I asked this to someone else above – excuse the repetition. I'm genuinely curious about the logic – if it exists.

  15. Harper's a control freak and a coward.

    • Hey Budster………..beer prices are going up, you better stock up buddy.

  16. Main Stream Media are liberal party lapdogs. The CPC party would accomplish nothing if they attempted common sense thinking on these so-called-journalists.

    Previous liberal party promise was axing the GST, did that happen? NOT. They wanted to increase it. to 8 or more percent.

    The CPC fought tooth and nail to knock it (GST) down from 7 to 5 percent eventually eliminating it completely. Difficult task when pressured by opposition demanding bail~outs OR ELSE threats over and over constantly like a broken record until the CPC caved and bailed out Lib & NDP mismanaged buddies.

    Give some common sense thought to the 2% drop in the GST has saved the people in this country. Saving on home heating, gasoline, electricity, big ticket items like home or auto purchases, right down to a roll of toilet paper. Do the math, on your monthly bills, you’re welcome to add more savings, these are what I thought of tonight. Imagine the Libs wanting to increase GST? When people quit spending our economy dies.

  17. The media are whining because they helped to create this election purely out of boredom, and now need something to write about. Unfortunately for them, they aren't getting all the 'access' they wanted….whaaaaaaaaaaaaa. The media have treated him like crap since the early 90's, but now they expect to be treated as though they matter – they don't. Mr. Harper has won elections without the MSM and will continue to win without them….THAT is what drives them nuts.

  18. The so-called media, is Our Conservatives best asset. He used them but good to win, and will use them again to go majority. Mr Harper is not going to spend much time with the media, which like our whining french military, is made of highschool dropouts.

  19. Harper doesn't know how to be nice, because he's never had to be nice to get what he wants. Typical despot.

    • Be nice? lol. I will take some one with intelligence, knowledge and honesty any day over the quebecers who have been ruining the Country! Luckily they can only ruin their own now, which is going just great.

  20. Anyone know exactly how the Conservatives get the media to go into their yellow pen each day. With my Lab, I usually throw a treat into his pen, which he seems to view as a fine trade-off for a temporary loss of freedom. I am sure it is quite different with human journalists. Perhaps donuts are involved?

  21. I rather have a man who talks less that those who talked too much. As for the media and commonly in Canada, there obsession with words make them over compensate Harper's lack of words by making them up. Let us look at the contradiction; they have been accusingHarper of being dictatorial and whose hands are in every pie, yet complained of him saying so little. These type of people make them so gullible to snake oil salesmen.

  22. Breaking News – Layton will be Leader of Coalition not Iggy

    Now it turns out Ignatieff is out on his ear in a two leader debate. We learned today that if there is a coalition on the left, people want Jack Layton to be the leader by a long shot ( 59% to 27%), and not Count Iggy . So if consortium of broadcasters arrange the two leader debate, it will be Layton versus Harper – what a turn of events – but that is democracy that Ignatieff believes in and defends.

    OTTAWA — If Canadians find themselves being governed by a Liberal-NDP-Bloc Québécois coalition following the May election, they want to see the NDP's Jack Layton become prime minister, results of an exclusive poll for Postmedia News and Global National released Friday suggest.

    Only 27 per cent of the poll's respondents said they'd want Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff to be top dog, compared with 14 per cent who support Bloc leader Gilles Duceppe and 59 per cent who said Layton.

    Read more: http://www.montrealgazette.com/news/Layton+prime+

    • Thanks for the link Peter. People are an odd breed , aren’t they? LOL

      Jack Layton a MAN for the people, savior of the poor unable to find affordable housing, superman saving seniors and healthcare.

      He lived in a government subsidized 3 bedroom apartment (low income) when he and his wife made over $120thousand annually. Hummmmm less space for real people needing affordable homes..

      As for health care, he had hernia surgery in a private clinic and claimed he “didn’t know” talk about bull dung. If our public health system is so good and requires protection, why’d he go private, paid for by subservient taxpayers too dumbed down to see him for what he is.

  23. The media shall be mute and not report on Mr. Harper's campaign. He does not want questions to be asked, national journalists shall not ask any question. Why do you have journalists following your campaign if you don't want to be questionned? May be Mr. Harper shall dismiss the national journalists from his campaign.

  24. Perhaps instead of complaining that Harper is only taking 4 or 5 questions per day, the media could inform us what the questions were and what his answers to them were. To the media, no one cares about you, stop making the story about yourselves.

  25. Why did the chicken cross the road? To avoid a debate.

  26. In this game of chicken, it's Harper and the Conservatives who have dodged first. Harper has been advised to not engage Iggy in a one on one because he would go down like F 35 in flames. The damage of appearing like a coward is less costly than being revealed for the inept nerd neo con that he is. If Harper goes not have the questions in advance he will disintegrate into a long nosed blob of quivering incoherence.

  27. All we need to look at is the huge success our Country has been, since the liberals drank themselves out of office into jails. Harper has led us through some of the worst times with not a worry by us. He has improved Canada's image in the United States, where they though we were electing the metal challenged only.

  28. Is it just me, or are there more Conservative trolls here than usual spewing talking points? Was that Craigslist ad seeking paid Conservative posters for real?

    • the only trolls around here are you leftist pansies. go tend your garden dear.

      • Pansies eh? Thanks. I'd almost forgoten the Cons were also a bunch of homophobes.

  29. I guess the fact that you are badmouthing Quebec makes you guys on the same level as the separatists since you want Quebec to leave Canada so much. I never thought I would see the day that people would make so many people in Canada choose sides but that is what happens when anyone challenges the Conservative Party. I guess this is what also happens when people say that a region should leave. Aren't we all part of Canada? Well you cannot get more negative than the people here. Also, this story has shown to be a separatists' dream. Well thank you and don't all down-vote me all at once you may want to think about allowing Canada to separate. I suspect most of the people here are Westerners that despise Quebec and the same ones who agreed with Harper when he said he wanted a firewall around Alberta.

  30. I don’t understand Mr. Stephen Harper’s communication plan at all. Even former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, who was some times annoying, but still classy, never limited the number of questions the media can ask during the election. This 4 questions per day situation is very weird. Why would a candidate who wants Canadians to vote for his party to be the majority government not wanting to let us know who he is, what he stands for, and what his plans are to bring Canada and its economy to a health state? Weird, weird, weird.

  31. Was this article “Steven Harper vs. Midia” from Postmedia Network a Macleans early April FOOLS joke?

    “journalists – corralled behind a yellow fence over 12 meters away.” TWELVE meters? Think about the distance PEOPLE? Sad , very sad when people actually believe that type of nonesense.

    Four questions per journalist per day.

    • Yeah, great joke. They got the PM to play along and everything. Now will somebody tell him it's not April Fools Day anymore and he can start taking questions again?

    • Watch the news. This is no joke. RCMP goons keeping journalists behind a fence. No security issues. These are journalists traveling with the conservative bus. Contempt of parliament and now contempt of the electorate is no April fools joke. Do vitizens not ha a right to question our Harper government divtatorships are keft to third world countries. I care that mr Hatper and his ministers deceive parliament. And the take no questions. He should be impeached.

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