Bloc blocks Maclean's UPDATED

A certain cover story lands us on the the Bloc Québécois's blacklist

UPDATE: Gilles Duceppe flak Karine Sauvé just called, apologized, something-something misunderstanding, and all is well. I’m going to get my interview after all. Hallelujah, as Leonard would sing.

Elections are fun, yes? At least, they’re meant to be for us journalistic types, who live and die by the relatively pointless day-to-day piss ups, delightful photo ops (There’s Iggy in Montreal, juggling a bagel! There’s Harper in Brampton with some salami!)  and the talking points that elections entail.

Part of writing about elections, though, is actually gaining access to those who are electioneering—something the Bloc Québécois has apparently decided not to do when it comes to Maclean’s. Or have they? They don’t seem so sure themselves. Read on…

On Friday I put a call into Shirley Bishop, the Bloc’s media relations person for Quebec City. I wanted to interview Michel Létourneau, the Bloc’s candidate in Beauport-Limoilou, for a piece I’m writing for the magazine. Ms. Bishop got back to me Sunday, saying that no interviews or exchanges with Bloc Québécois MPs would be forthcoming, given that Maclean’s “never apologized for the Bonhomme cover.” I laughed—I honestly didn’t think she was serious—and then hung up shortly thereafter, because a) I was driving onto the Eastern Townships autoroute; but mostly because b) I was mad.

Cooler heads prevailed, however, and I called Ms. Bishop a couple hours later, and asked her to reconsider. When I asked again why I wouldn’t be getting an interview, she said the candidates were “too busy campaigning”, which is a slight different from the previous answer. “You didn’t believe the first reason, so I’m giving you another,” she said, when I asked her why there were apparently two differing reasons why the Bloc candidate wouldn’t be made available.

She’s right: I didn’t believe her, mostly because Bloc leader Gilles Duceppe himself had a Twitter-rific exchange not three days before with Andrew Coyneyes, the same Andrew Coyne who wrote a column for the Bonhomme cover package. If there’s a ban on chatting (electronically or otherwise) with Maclean’s, it seems the news didn’t trickle up to Mr. Duceppe.

Ditto Daniel Paillé, the Bloc’s MP in Hochelaga-Maisonneuve. You’d think, given the Bloc’s blustery attitude towards Maclean’s, that the BQ war room wouldn’t even want its MPs breathing the same air as my fair magazine. Yet there he was 10 feet away from me not three hours ago, as we debated the merits of the Bloc Québécois on live television (sorry, I can’t find a link to it on the TVA/LCN website…). I bitched and moaned, he stuck to his talking points. In short, democracy in all its glory.

It’s an odd thing to be on a blacklist with a political party. It’s odder still when the party itself doesn’t even know it. Memo to the Bloc: this is why memos were invented.

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