Harper Plans for Government-Run Media Center Exposed

Monday, October 15, 2007

1 Comment

Written by Kim Mackrael

Under the Access to Information Act, the Toronto Star discovered secret government plans to build a $2 million dollar media briefing center in Ottawa. Not only is this a serious waste of money - since the 47-year-old National Press Theatre, where briefings are usually held, is only blocks away - but it's also another massive betrayal of the Canadian public's right to information through a free and unbiased media.

Unlike his predecessors, who normally use the National Press Theatre for government news conferences, Harper has shunned the building, only turning up once for a surprise conference at the beginning of this month.

Why doesn't Harper like the Theatre? It's not just a matter of being camera shy. Since taking office, Harper's policy towards the media has become increasingly hostile. The trouble with the old Press Theatre is that proceedings there are moderated by the Parliamentary Press Gallery Association - a group made up of television and newspaper outlets - which forces a kind of accountability to the media that Harper has never really been too fond of.

In the new media center, the Harper government will be able to control which journalists and photographers are allowed past its security and who gets to ask questions. Additional plans to install cameras with media feeds suggest that government-employed camera operators will be filming proceedings (rather than journalists) and they will be providing the feed directly to television news outlets for use in their reports.

Harper's previous policy changes towards the media have included the withholding of announcements about the visits of heads of state and premiers, issuing official photographs of those meetings rather than allowing news photographers inside, and pre-screening the questions reporters plan to ask.

According to an article published in today's Toronto Star, one of the secret documents noted that the new media center would, "put in place robust physical and information security measures to protect the prime minister and cabinet."

Protection from whom? Is the PM that afraid of Canadian journalists and public opinion?

The answer would appear to be a resounding yes.

| More


Back to Top
  1. Posted by: Bol'ah Roll on Oct 15, 2007 @ 9:28pm

    All Canadian citizens and global citizens should be aware that we only witness true political motives through keyholes and cracks. This is in part because there are many nuances to politics, but more increasingly because there are hidden economic agendas and private interests keeping out of the limelight. The continuing strife in Haiti and the Canadian presence there is one example of this. Citizens need to be discerning and take the opportunities when they can, to see what really goes on.

Share your thoughts

Bookstore First Year