Conservatives raise money on fight they picked with the Press Gallery

- October 16th, 2013

Sun Media and Sun News Network did not boycott the PM’s speech. While I, along with other reporters, was denied entry to the caucus room where Harper spoke, TV camera operators and one pool reporter were permitted by the PMO to attend and film his speech. Some news organizations found those conditions unacceptable and decided that if all reporters could not attend (as has been the usual practice) then no camera operators from CBC, CTV, Global and other networks would attend, neither would a pool reporter, and  they would simply not cover his morning speech.

I firmly believe that every news organization should always do what it believes is best for its viewers and readers  but, as we  decided our viewers and readers were best served by trying to cover the PM’s speech, our camera operator recorded the speech (and we broadcast it) even though I could not be in the room to watch it.  And so, in the end, one camera — ours — and no reporter, not even a pool reporter, saw the speech.

One other reason I preferred to avoid  participating in a boycott was  because I believed the PMO was looking to pick a fight with the Parliamentary Press Gallery to help with fundraising and to rally the Conservative base. In my view, it’s probably not a helpful thing for a group of journalists to be any party’s fundraising foil.  Make no mistake: The PMO picked this fight. But I, for one, would rather find other ways to fight for more access and transparency than provide a politician with an excuse to mobilize a political party’s base.

And sure enough, this evening, the Conservative Party of Canada is out raising money for re-election thanks to the Parliamentary Press Gallery. I’m certain you can expect more letters like this:

Friend,

You won’t believe what the Press Gallery just did in Ottawa.

Some media decided to boycott an important speech by our Prime Minister – one where he laid out his vision for our country, before today’s Speech from the Throne.

Rather than send cameras to cover the Prime Minister’s speech, they attended the NDP’s meeting, and were welcomed with cheers and applause. We knew they wouldn’t give us fair coverage – but this is a new low for the Ottawa media elite.

Since you won’t see this speech on the evening news, we’ve updated our website with video from our Prime Minister’s speech:

http://www.stephenharper.ca/SFT

Sincerely,

Fred DeLorey
Director, Political Operations
Conservative Party of Canada

Categories: Journalism, Politics

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15 comments

  1. Brad says:

    They contacted their email list here, but I don’t see anything about asking for money or fundraising.

  2. Elizabeth says:

    You do have a point there.
    So many people now don’t trust the media, believe they’re untrustworthy, so in his typical rabble-rousing fashion, Harper can get the unquestioning loyalists to actually say that Harper has the right to not answer anyone’s questions – including those in Question Period.
    I’ve had many discussions online wherein I try to point out that we do need good journalists – and that the PM’s job is to talk to us through them.
    Need a law, should be enshrined in the Constitution that the media is part of the Crown.
    Unbelievable thuggery going on in Canada now.

  3. Mark says:

    I wonder. You showed up, and got played anyway. I expect this letter was going out even if everybody showed up but someone was late. or a door was “accidentally” locked.

    Don’t get caught in the trap of modifying your decisions based on the PMO’ possible behaviour. In the end, the speech had little news value on a day full of media ops. And were ther an actual important message, you can bet they would have wanted everybody in.

    As long as you keep showing up to these silent movies, they’ll keep excluding reporters, or CTV cameramen. They need you guys, and I wonder if sometimes, you guys all forget that.

  4. Greg Vezina says:

    Canadian News Hall of Fame dinner and induction of two Canadian print media giants: Boris Spremo, legendary Canadian news photographer, formerly with the Toronto Star, and Les Pyette, former editor and publisher of Sun Media group, the London Free Press and the Toronto Sun. Many people commented about my late uncle Bob Vezina and that he would not put up with the b.s. from politicians that publishers, editors and journalists accept from politicians today. Real journalism and balanced news reporting are vanishing from our mainstream media.

  5. Arlene says:

    The Liberals & NDP both have Donate buttons in the same place on their home page & this appears to be a Conservative site, so I don’t see how this is any different.

  6. You are so wrong David Akin:

    Who Killed Canada:
    Media Ownership and the Radical Right in Canada

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d8D67YiLcOM
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fiurWhmOIgk&feature=related
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iRnZ43wxGvY&NR=1
    Part 1, 2 & 3. Note: each video about 10 minutes long

    No time for video? Read review instead:

    Mr. Hurtig begins by discussing the Canadian media and how we now have the greatest concentration of media in the western world. In fact, he states this would simply not be allowed in any other western democracy.

    And since these same media outlets control newspaper, television and radio news; we are essentially only being given one voice. There are few or no alternative views. As stated in the video, a healthy democracy should foster a healthy and independent news media.

    http://pushedleft.blogspot.com/2009/11/under-stephen-harper-we-are-no-longer.html

  7. Robert says:

    We have included your post in our ‘Around the Blog’ section at looniepolitics.com.

  8. Gabby in QC says:

    This is the notice (edited) the PMO sent out about an upcoming caucus meeting.
    “Public events for October 16, 2013
    October 15, 2013
    Ottawa, Ontario
    Public events for Prime Minister Stephen Harper for Wednesday, October 16th are:
    Ottawa
    9:30 a.m. – Prime Minister Stephen Harper will address the Conservative National Caucus.
    237-C Reading Room
    Centre Block
    Parliament Hill
    *Photo opportunity only (cameras and photographers only)

    NOTES:
    Media should arrive no later than 9:00 a.m.
    Media are required to present proper identification for accreditation.
    Media should assemble in the Rotunda. …”

    *Photo opportunity only (cameras and photographers only) …”
    The Press Gallery has surely received similar notices in the past. I cannot cite other examples, since I delete such notices from my inbox a couple of days after those events.
    So why the kerfuffle this time?
    The Press Gallery KNEW the caucus meeting was not open to reporters AND that there would probably be no Q&A afterwards, so why the controversy?

    I can understand the PMO’s reluctance to welcome reporters into caucus meetings, given the way some of them behaved at the May 21 caucus meeting. I also assume the PMO sees such access as pointless, since short shrift is usually given to the PM’s speeches. CBC News, for example, often broadcasts Obama’s speeches in their entirety, including the President CHOOSING reporters, IF he decides to take questions. The Canadian media apparently has no quarrel with Obama’s way of conducting Q&A’s but in contrast, the PM’s speeches are usually broadcast in snippets, if shown at all, and the media continues to balk at having to put names of reporters on a list in order to ask a question.

    On the other hand, I think the PMO is wrong to further limit reporters’ access because all that does is increase the media’s well-entrenched anti-Harper stance. The PMO should allow more access and more questions, even unruly ones shouted out of turn, which the PM need not react to. Obama ignores them, walking away; the PM could do likewise. And the viewing public would decide whose behaviour is more intransigent.

    • David Akin says:

      That last paragraph of yours,Gabby, I am in perfect accord with. For edification though: Though the “cameras and photogs” only rule is fine for photo-ops and fine for photo-ops where there is physically not much space, this has never been the tradition for any invitation to hear a leader to speak to caucus. So in that sense, the PMO was breaking with well-established traditions within the Parliamentary Precinct. There was lots of room in the caucus room for everyone to squeeze in. And, as I’ve told anyone anywhere (PMO, OLO, you name it) when I’m invited to an event as a reporter, I reserve the right to holler questions and I will be perfectly respectful of the host’s right to ask me to leave and prevent my attendance or the attendance of my news organization at subsequent events. But it is exceedingly childish to ban all reporters for the perceived sins of one or a few. (And in, fact, I may very well have been the original sinner here, hollering out questions at the PM the last time they let me into a caucus meeting.)

      • Gabby in QC says:

        Thank you for the clarification about “well-established traditions within the Parliamentary Precinct”.

        However, I must disagree with your contention — as stated in the title of your post — that this is a “fight they picked with the Press Gallery”. You yourself have set the record straight on the number of questions the PM takes (I would prefer more), how reporters get on the questions list (not selected by the PMO), whether questions must be submitted for prior approval (they are not), among other misrepresentations put forward by Harper-haters, who can count many PG members among their numbers. All I’m looking for is accuracy in the presentation of events & situations, free from vindictive agendas.

        More media access may not suddenly transform Harper-haters into Harper-lovers but it may give the general public a less jaundiced view of the PM’s ideas, still filtered but to a lesser degree through Harper-haters’ eyes.

        Some fellow conservative commenters must be wondering whether I’ve crossed over to the “dark side” for criticizing the PMO’s communications strategy. I merely suggest that a more conciliaTORY tone may help the Conservative exposiTORY messaging reach a wider audience.

  9. Sue says:

    I re-read the email I received from Fred DeLorey of the Conservative Party and there was no donate icon in the top right corner or any other corner.
    It wouldn’t have surprised me, but there just wasn’t a donate widget.

  10. Mark Shortreed says:

    Because the Prime Minister of Canada should always allow the media to decide how and when he makes announcements and allows questions, right?
    The same media who have never had ONE positive word about him or his government.
    As ye sow so shall ye reap.

    When journalists decided that influencing became more important than informing, their usefulness became null and void. Harper is simply living in the propaganda world people like Akin created.

  11. Charles Murphy says:

    Can not wait until 2015. Harper won 5 votes from our family in last election. Will lose 5 in the next. His true colors are showing. Poor judgement (Senate). For someone that is a “control freak” yet seems to know nothing of what is happening under his guide “PMO” etc. ?

    Should he be allowed to be in charge of our country if he does not what is going onaround him? He actually believes the canadian voters are morons!

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