Media relations -

Media relations


The reporters travelling with Mr. Harper’s campaign used some of their few questions today to ask Mr. Harper why he permits so few questions. Mr. Harper typically takes five questions each day: four from the reporters travelling with him, one from a local reporter. For the sake of comparison, Jack Layton took 22 questions by my count this morning. My notes for Mr. Ignatieff’s media availability in Montreal four days ago list 13 questions.

For a number of reasons, disputes between politicians and journalists are rather fraught and problematic. In this case, Conservative Senator Michael MacDonald is siding with the the man who appointed him to the Senate. One of the reporters named by Sen. MacDonald is defending her profession.

But regardless of profession, partisan affiliation or distrust for either journalism or politics, perhaps we could agree that, as an objective observer of Canadian politics once observed, “Canadians’ freedom is enhanced when journalists are free to pursue the truth, to shine light into dark corners, and to assist the process of holding governments accountable.”


Media relations

  1. Can they use questions to ask for more questions, or does that start an infinite loop?

  2. “Canadians' freedom is enhanced when journalists are free to pursue the truth, to shine light into dark corners, and to assist the process of holding governments accountable.”

    This is what Wherry and his media pals do now, do they? lol

    I'm always amused by the fact that the greatest admirers of the media today is……the media.

  3. MacDonald's attack on journalists for trying to do their jobs is despicable. Harper's refusal to answer questions is cowardly.

  4. I think that should read

    "I'm always amused by the fact that the greatest admirer of the media today is……Stephen Harper. "

    As it is his quote

  5. Why isn't anyone allowed to criticize the media? They can dish it out but they can't take it?

  6. (b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;

    Canadian Charter of rights and freedoms
    Fundamental freedoms 2(b)

    Members of the Fourth Estate have both the freedom and the duty to keep an eye on, and ask questions of, the govt.

    Go for it!

  7. Why are you telling me how I should write my posts? God. My comment still stands. Deal with it. Next.

  8. I'm sorry, I don't think I follow you Dennis. You do NOT believe in media helping to hold governments accountable?

  9. Just trying to help you out. You appeared to have attributed the quote to the media.

  10. Dennis as an avowed anti-communist, I would have thought you of all people would appreciate the role of a free press.

  11. I disagree, I would say the young reporter dished it right back in his face. And then some.

    I'm personally never keen on politicians (an unelected one at that!) whining about the media.

  12. Thought the reporter you were referring to was Heather Mallick – this is reporting?

    "We're being conquered. If Stephen Harper wins a majority, the United States of Canada is what we'll be. Maybe you're fine with that. I am not.

    The Harperites' attitude is Republican with a layer of Tea Party, a “current of bitterness, an anger born of a sense of exclusion,” as Lawrence Martin wrote in his fine book Harperland, Conservatives “viscerally hating their political opposition” in a way that was new and startling in Canada but old poisoned hat for the Americans. We will become more American in word and deed, in thought and feeling."

  13. Jan as an avowed knee-jerk poster I'm not surprised that you need to lie about what I actually wrote, and do it in such a lazy and angry fashion. It's you. Next.

  14. They tried that this morning but he refused to answer them. Why he would want to go out of his way to alienate the press is beyond me.

  15. Then why did "Reverand Blair" describe it as a "vicious attack" by MacDonald? And why is the media blasting him for it?

  16. You're right. You're not following me. I just don't much of today's media as this truth-seeking champion. And my bet is that most Canadians don't either. The media spends all its time attacking everyone else, but does nothing to improve its own standing in our democracy and with its citizens.

  17. And you were wrong. I'd be careful about that.

  18. Reverend Blair didn't use the word "vicious".

  19. No, that is a column.

  20. It is lamentable that during election campaigns the media wastes so much time scrutinizing candidates when they really should be scrutinizing each other.

  21. Harper's restrictions on media access are worse than ridiculous during an election. He is denying Canadian voters access to information which may help them cast an informed vote. Perhaps Harper has his behind the scene machinery to get out his vote which doesn't rely on an media or other scrutiny. But there are still voters who might vote CPC, but not necessarily, who are interested in the kind of information and analysis the media can provide if they have access to it. I see this as just one more example (among many) of Harper's contempt for many Canadians. Perhaps it all arises from insecurity, but it comes across as contempt to me.

    I give kudos to the press for openly reporting the problem. If Harper returns as Prime Minister, he can make things difficult for those he choses to. At least some of the press have decided this is too much of a compromise to make and I agree with them.

  22. Personally, I've never been a fan of hers. Chris Selley takes her to task regularly, I think he usually spot on in pointing out the often glaring holes in her columns.

  23. Quotation marks can be confusing sometimes

  24. Mallick is a columnist who writes an opinion column. She is not reporting, she is opining. Read some newspapers to learn the difference (National Post doesn't count).

  25. I did, and I didn't directly quote him, did I? For the record, he used the word "despicable." Yes, how dare someone criticize the media!

  26. Notwithstanding MacDonald's criticism of the media, I'd like to hear an answer from Harper on the question, why he's limiting questions. I hear all the 'left-wing media' stuff on this board, but I'd like to hear it from the horse's mouth. I mean, if he thinks the media doesn't deserve an answer, I'd like to know why.

  27. How dare I criticize you!

    Shame on me.

  28. Scratch the skin of any bully and you'll find a coward.

  29. Dennis, you're doing the typical Harper-style misrepresentation of what someone said. Here's a clue – it doesn't help make your case.

  30. He refused to this morning. Would not discuss what was of asked of him. I think the press should boycott his campaign for a while, while he re-thinks his attitude. They're paying something like $10,000 a week to be part of this silliness.

  31. Tom (? regular reporter) from CTV just commented on Power&Politics, that Obama during the last part of his campaign had decided to not take any more reporter's questions. None.

    Could we accept it from Obama but not from Harper? Why always the dubble standards.

    I think that if Harper's comments were to be more objectively reported, perhaps Harper would open up more freely. It gets kinda tiresome that no matter what Harper answers to then read a negative reporting on his answers the next day, no matter what he says.

    And now he gets critized for not answering enough. So I can't see where he would be at an advantage, either way.

  32. I have no problem with the media asking questions, although meta-questions about themselves in an election campaign are narcissitic. I also have no problem with campaigns pursuing media strategies. A media strategy to limit questions may not be wise, but campaigns are entitled to their choices, just like the media is entitled to their questions.

    However. The mainstream media establishment are agents of the oligarchic elites and unfortunately still subsidized by taxpayers. I can't wait until the technological revolution forces the elites to pay for their own propaganda rather than ask me to subsidize it.

    One need only look at the monopolistic practices and rules of the Parliamentary Press Gallery which prevents alternative media from access to and to questioning of government. i.e. Wherry is a hypocrite. The mainstream media itself blocks access to the process from media that it does not control.

  33. Fair enough. Not sure I agree with you on this particular instance. I'll have to steep on that thought for a while.

  34. I give kudos to the public for openly reporting the problem:

    on ctv Question period last Sunday, Craig Oliver started his introduction of Harper's campaign by describing that Harper was not wearing a tie. Reporter Fife, who then took over from Oliver, went on to discuss the tie issue some more before going into some more detail about Harper's attire. And yes, there was some room left within Fife's report to mention how angry Harper looked, and he has to repeat that a few more times. Angry Harper. Angry Harper.

    And anyone wonders why Harper is getting a bit testy with reporters who pretend to want to do some serious reporting.

    Oh, yeah, Fife did talk about something policy wise, I believe, but those few seconds were too short to be able to make any sense of policy making. But I had understood the media's policy vey well: do not as we do; do as we say!

  35. Last I checked, not being American's and all, we don't have to accept or expect jack from Obama.

    Harper, on the other hand, can answer every question I have until he runs off to prognosticate on Fox News.

  36. Nope- sorry I'm calling you on that- it's by far and away the right wing candidates who are running away from the media these days. Sharron Angle, Sarah Palin, Stephen Harper, Julian Fantino. And all the while painting themselves as victims.

    Harper has been running a tightly controlled, scripted, limited-access campaign like his brethren (sisteren?!) in the United States.

    It is wrong. It needs to stop. I don't care that everyone else does it, I care that my Prime Minister is doing it right now.

    Do you hear me- I DO NOT CARE that everyones else is doing it. I DO NOT CARE that Barack Obama did it 3 years ago. It needs to stop. It is wrong.

  37. No, he's like the genie from the lamp in that Disney movie.
    No wishing for more wishes.
    What the reporters need to do is trick him into getting them out of the magic cave.

  38. Well, with Mr. Harper not giving the media the time of day, what is there left to talk about?

  39. Than report your complaint also to Tom from CTV because if you will listen to Power&Politics, it was Obama he mentioned.

    I care about fair coverage. To put out a report yesterday by CBC by Keith Boag trying to convince every watcher that the 2008 coalition agreement never was one, was a flat out distortion of the truth.

    Mr.Harper has never, ever,signed a coalition agreement with the BQ to form government. Harper has always insisted on going to the voter when asking for a mandate to govern. But the 2008 coalition agreement indicated to do exactly that: to form government without going to the people first, and to hand the BQ the balance of power without asking CANADIAN voters what they would think about that. And when my tax dollars are being used to distort the truth, Mr.Boag, then we have every right to call the reporter's action into question, including the question of why Harper's answer's cannot be reported on accurately.

  40. When will the Right stop playing the victim card?

  41. It's a free country. Journalists are free to ask as many questions as they like, politicians are free to answer as many questions as they like or they are free to not answer questions at all. Of course I miss the eternal question, boxers or briefs, and the classic, if you were a vegetable, what vegetable would you be? If they only have four questions, maybe they should make them good ones.

  42. MacDonald … MacDonald…. Oh, you must mean this Senator MacDonald …

    And the Senator Greene is a failed Harper candidate who was silly enough to run
    against Saint Alexa ..

  43. by corollary, everyone has the right not to answer insipid quesetions from reporters with agendas bent on villifying their target. You confuse the two, the right to ask questions is not the right to an answer no matter how hard you wish it. You can argue all you want about how this effects the campaign but don't get yourself in high dudgeon because you feel you've been slighted.

  44. Yes I do mean Senator MacDonald, not Alexa. The apparent shortage of surnames among our political class does lead to some confusion.

  45. You seem like a very angry man, Dennis. Heyyyyy…are you really Steve Harper?

  46. Criticizing the media is fine if you can back it up. I have some very real concerns about the concentration of ownership, the influence of advertisers, cut backs to staff etc., for instance.

    Criticizing the media for wanting to ask questions and demanding fair and coherent answers to those questions…doing their jobs…is not an honest criticism though.

  47. Funny, no other PM has had a problem with it.

  48. Not to get grammatically correct or anything, but you spelled reverend wrong, placed it in quotation marks erroneously, then used quotation marks around the phrase vicious attack in such a way that you appear to attribute it to me when I didn't actually use that phrase.

    I'm just wondering whether the education system let you down, or whether there may be some other reason for the occasional incoherence of your posts.

  49. Yeah, the National Post is like the crazy bus of Canadian newspapers. Just ask Coyne.

  50. The media is not above criticism; however, by suggesting the media's query as to why they can't ask more than 5 questions seems to be tied to the fact that they may ask a hard question. No doubt you just want Duffy and Don Cherry to be tossing soft balls at Harper, and real journalists pressing Ignatieff and Layton… Another step down Harpocrisy.

  51. What you didn't realize was that by criticizing Harper's attire, Fife was giving the so-called leader favourable coverage. He avoided another bungle, didn't talk about the creepy crawlies under investigation who the party has been hiding in various campaigns across the country. If the 'chickenly pitbull' insists on poking the media with a stick, it won't be long before an industrious one starts digging into these strange occurrences — no doubt they'll lead to the 'honorable' senator from Millhaven Finley…

  52. How politicians dress has a lot to do with the message those politicians are trying to send and which demographic they are trying to impress, so it's a valid thing to discuss. So is their apparent mood, since that's as stage-managed as their wardrobe most of the time.

    Why does Harper look so angry all the time though? I don't understand why the Conservatives would want him to portray himself as the guy at the party about to start swinging at people.

  53. I think the media should have a questionometer for each leader. How many questions will reporters ask per day?

  54. Quite obviously when they're no longer the victim.. of anything..

    ..unfortunately, that includes the consequences of their own actions. So don't expect to see it soon.

  55. A digression, but did anyone see the clip on Colbert the other night of Fox News talking about the fall of Stephen Harper's "coalition government"? That must of hurt Harper good.

  56. Thumbs up!

    To Stephen Harper: "Would you wear a pink shirt?" (Not including pink shirt day)

    Any more questions?

  57. Yes, playing "gotchya" politics, reporting on the latest meaningless poll, one-sided coverage, and self-important attitudes are exactly what this democracy is in need of from its fourth estate. Thanks.

  58. It's not hard. It's politics. He's way ahead in the polls. He doesn't want to jeopardize that. He knows the media wants to play "gotchya" politics with him. He doesn't want to indulge them. On the other hand, Iggy is way behind, so he'll do anything to get the media's attention. It's usually how it works.

  59. Really, "Jan." And how did I do that? Never mind. You never back up your angry accusations. Thanks. Next.

  60. Why? Because I dare to talk back to some of you? Why is that not allowed?

  61. Sometimes the media does that, and sometimes they play "gotchya" politics. It's why they usually rank right above used cars salesman in public popularity.

  62. Or you want Liberal hacks like Wherry to hound Harper 24/7 while they swoon after every one of Iggy's utterances. Next.

  63. You're write about the quotation marks.

    In your highly esteemed educational circles, did they teach you to draw conclusions from isolated examples simply because you resent a person's politics?



  64. My highly esteemed educational circles? Do you mean high school, where I was last marked on punctuation and grammar, or elementary school, where they actually taught punctuation and grammar?And your politics have nothing to do with it. Your errors causing you to misquote me do.

  65. This is a message board, not a PhD dissertation. I make the odd mistake or two. That you generalize incorrectly from that very much suggests it's motivated by political anger and resentment. And, if you're so hot on grammar and spelling, why did you miss my misuse of the word "write" in my previous post? lol. Next.

  66. Why would Harper let him self get set up by the leftist/liberal media that seems to have one goal, to trip up Harper and get the visiting professor elected with his coalition of losers.The media in this counrty,wherry being on the top of the list are in bed with the libdipbloc coalition every canadian can see it simply by turning on their TV, the problem is 40 % of Canadians seem to have no problem at all with hopefully some how it comes back to bite them in the butt.

  67. Dennis,
    I tend to agree with you. For instance have the journalists costed out Iggy's campaign promises thus far? Can we afford these and who is paying? Perhaps Jack's speech in Quebec today? Have the journalists analized how many folks from the different provinces work in the Fort that he wants to shut down? Are any jounalists analyzing the Prime Minister's anouncement in Halifax re the power project in Newfoundland and the impact on electricity prices in Nova Scotia?Quebec?Boston?New York?
    But iI guess thats work and that would interfers with other important things they do.

  68. Trudeau!!!!!
    Emily you are in a way over yor head.

  69. How about you naming 5 mainstream Canadian journalists worthy of asking Mr Harper unscripted questions?

  70. Fverhoeven is correct about Obama not taking questions

  71. And let's not forget their deliberate attempts to turn the tables on Harper regarding coalition. He's never formed one, certainly not after the last election. He most certainly won't form one after this next election. Yet the media spent three days asking him about letters and comments made about a decade ago. Quite something, isn't it?

  72. Diefenbaker actually, 1960.

    You were saying?

  73. I don't think the PM or anyone else has to answer questions from a clearly antagonistci and continually biased media. Jennifer Ditchburn and Terry Milewski the two journalists in question are clearly that. They've demonstrated this negativism towards the PM and his party thourgh their many appearances on CBC and their slanted, opinionated reporting. As have you Mr. Wherry.
    Conrad Black, perhaps not as objective as you might like but clearly very perceptive got it right when he told a school of journalism class;
    "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"

  74. Ok. Now, while the folks that are already going to support him probably think it's fine for him to ignore the media, the folks who have no fixed opinion see this guy thumbing his nose at the media, and they figure he's an a**hole. The 'I won't say nothin' to the lefty media and their gotcha politics' isn't without its downfalls, either.

  75. Curt you should try watching the leaders news conferences to get a feel for what questions are being asked and which leaders are answering them. Doesn't sound like you are.

  76. Why isn't anyone allowed to criticize MacDonald? He can dish it out but he can't take it?

  77. Funny that – Milewski was the right-wing cat's meow all during the early run-up in sponsorship investigation. Now he's an evil weapon of satan. Kind of like when Liberals are government, whistleblowers should be protected; now that Harper's in charge of the store, the defacto person appointed by Harper to protect whisteblowers gets to put up walls and avoid whistleblowers and gets a mighty nice buyout complete with silence bought.
    Did you get the same flip-flop chip implanted that your so-called leader has?
    You CONbots are a hoot!

  78. We are talking about asking questions, right? Or the pretense of answering them, because it is what people expect from their politicians during a campaign — and it's exactly what all the other leaders are doing? Where did you start imagining spotlights and Col. Klink searching for Hogan's hideaway?
    I think your losing it, denis.

  79. Exactly – because you only 'dare to talk back to some of you' – not all. ;0)

  80. He's not ignoring the media. His support has risen despite their efforts. Some of them would like to change that with their "gotchya" questions.

  81. Where is there a shortage of people yelling and screaming at him for daring to speak out?

  82. Yes, I'm "losing it" because I dare disagree with some of you. Why is politics so personal for some of you? Why do you have to hunt down opponents like this? Wow.

  83. So?…This isn't the U.S…So whatever precedent is set there has NOTHING to do with here…………..Harper is starting to look like a coward

  84. Oh spare me……is Harper a man or a mouse!

  85. Heavens old boy- you're at plus 3 as of 8AM Pacific time on April 1.


    or is it April fools?

  86. Reporters need to have their feet held to the fire as well.

    CBC got it wrong on cigarette labels story

    CBC's ombudsman says a TV broadcast last December on CBC's flagship newscast The National, that accused the Harper government of bending to pressure by the tobacco lobby, missed its mark.

    The National's conclusion of a causal relationship, in which the lobbying seemed to be the reason for the shelving, was insufficiently supported to meet CBC's Journalistic Standards and Practices that call for facts and evidence to arrive at conclusions,” CBC ombudsman Kirk LaPointe wrote in a carefully worded nine-page report released late Friday.

    In fact, the new anti-smoking labels weren't shelved at all but were unveiled by the government a few weeks after the broadcast was aired.

  87. Where is there a shortage of conbots yelling and screaming at the media for daring to ask questions?

  88. Let me see. The list of "conbots" you refer to: Me and the senator. lol

    Suggestion: knee-jerk posts won't get you too far. Just saying.

  89. Except that's not really what happened, Leo: it was a 'Schrodinger's cat' type scenario, in which the body at rest moved BECAUSE it was observed. The report's rec. to change the labels WAS shelved, at least, that's what the Provincial Health Ministers had been told, until the CBC story reported that, which embarrassed them, so they… quickly un-shelved it. So the story was fair, and the ruling was not, really, although it was prudent, I suppose, to not antagonize their government funder further on this.

  90. If reporters actually reported truth and didn't slant things all the time maybe they would be more open. If they let reporters do their job all we get is wrong information or a slanted viewpoint.

  91. You are a realist. Thank you.

  92. Harper has said he is going to change Canada so none of us will recognize it. He is using the PNWER organization… which is a Conservative/Republican club registered in the US away from Canadian law.

    Certainly, this group has the tools to do just that! Harper doesn't want questions off the cuff; he has too many irons in the fire.

  93. I don't mean to be unkind Mr. Wherry, but if your pot stirring, politically biased articles are typical of how the media covers issues I don't blame the prime minister for maintaining his distance.

  94. Totally agree

  95. walnor – The bottom line is that the Canadian voter has the right to some answers to the tough questions and simply not those provided in the varnished press releases offered up by the campaign hacks. Refusing to take at least a dozen questions from the media at each appearance is cheating the Canadian public of their legitimate rights. Blaming the media is like shooting the messenger

  96. What the Liberals, NDP and Bloc do on a daily basis cheat the Canadian public of legitimate rights. If the worse the Conservatives do is refuse to play their play-school games then we are in good hands. I can't wait for the election, going to be real nice to have a Conservative majority government in power. Maybe the rest of them will throw another tantrum and team up and try to overthrow the house again, because thats totally honoring the publics rights.

  97. Well said

  98. walnore – A conservative majority? Wow! Republican policies at their best. Bigger prisons. Capital punishment. Abortion illegal. Homosexuality illegal. Sarah would feel right at home!

  99. Not even the Libyan government is as draconian when it comes to the freedom of the press. Gadhafi's government has not imposed any question quota (5 per day) for journalists.

  100. So let me get this straight, you are opposed to Killing criminals through Capital Punishment but are FOR Killing innocent babies who have no choice. Which is it? you oppose or are for taking a human life. Thats the problem with Liberals, as long as it feels good its not an issue. Do what you want, say what you want and as long as you can justify it its all good. Look at the Liberal government in the US, thats really helping that country. Worst state they have been in history. Obama the super liberal is doing a bang up job.


  102. Our "Country Bumpkin" P.M just doesn't know how to make intelligent conversation with city-slicker reporters. So, in the fine tradiiton of that other VILLAGE IDIOT, George Dubya Bush Jr., he's decided to
    "Keep it short and stupid"

    This is the man who created a stuctural deficit with his parochial self-serving policies. He took $10 billion from 08-09 cut the GST and lost 15 billion BEFORE the great Recession hit.

    Canada's Economic Deficit is not the resutl of global crisis, but a Harper-made-in-Canada disaster. Ask the economic watchdog and read his report!

    A vote for Harper now is a vote for the demise of Canadian sovereignty and a race to the bottom. The international community already slapped him and we lost for first time in 60 years the UN Security Council seat! The man's a disaster for this country! God help us if this village idiot gets in with a majority….

  103. Harper's refusal to answer questions from media does a great disservice to all voting Canadians, except perhaps the 15% of his fanatic extreme right-wing Republican base. The other 15% who may vote for him are more centrists and more likely to want to hear their chosen PM speak on issues of importance.

    The rest of Canadians –70% of us — really want to hear answers to what this country will look like if he gets a Majority. Shutting us out of the light of his answers is not the way of a transparent, democratic govenment-in-the-making.
    I'ts cowardly, really—and he may lose a few votes, too by being so strategicallly childish and petulant. The press should be thanked for telling us about this Qaddafi-like stragegy.

  104. Mr. Harper says we as Canadians want to elect a government we can trust and he is right.

    On the day Mr. Harper announced the election he was asked about his government being defeated because of CONTEMPT of PARLIAMENT his response………….."THAT WAS A PARLIMENTARY PROCEDURE AND CANADIANS DO NOT CARE"

    Mr. Harper CONTEMPT of PARLIAMENT is lying to Parliment and the Canadian People and we do CARE

    when the reports travelling with Mr. harper get to ask him a question ask him this one for Canadians please.

    Mr. Harper if this election is about TRUST as you say and that we as Canadians want to elect a government we can TRUST then why is it that you stated in front of the Governor Generals house that we as Canadians do no Care that your government Lied ?