Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Pressing Matters

The parliamentary press gallery is up in arms about the Harper government's unprecedented assault on freedom of the press!

Are journalists being thrown in prison for reporting stories that embarrass the government?

Are publications and broadcasts being shut down for disseminating unfriendly commentary?

Is the government appointing censors in newsrooms to screen stories before publication?


They've changed the location for the scrums outside the Commons chamber!

The Parliamentary Press Gallery is accusing the Prime Minister's Office of impeding the freedom of the press to access decision makers after a decision to move the location for scrums with cabinet ministers.

On Tuesday, reporters were told by Prime Minister Stephen Harper's staff that they would no longer be allowed to hold scrums with cabinet ministers at two microphones in a hallway outside of the cabinet meeting room on the third floor of the Centre Block.

Under the new procedures, ministers could choose to speak to reporters at a microphone a level below in the foyer outside of the Chamber.

However, reporters are suspicious that this could allow cabinet ministers to sneak out of the Centre Block and avoid questions from reporters.

In a letter to Sandra Buckler, the PM's director of communications, Emmanuelle Latraverse, and Radio Canada correspondent and president of the Press Gallery, called the decision "abrupt and arbitrary."

"Switching the location of the availability of ministers would roll back decades of tradition and impede the freedom of the press to have access to our country's top decision makers," Latraverse wrote.

"It is a move that the Gallery and its members cannot support."

So a minister might be able to duck away from the scrum a little more quickly if he so desired, and that's considered an unconscionable attack on the freedom of the press. Boy, they sure do think highly of their self-appointed prerogatives, don't they?

PMO is not proposing to vet all questions in advance, or abolish the scrum, just move it a few feet down the hall.

But you'd think that we were dealing with another case of Joe Howe fighting the Halifax magistrates' charges of criminal libel.

Journalists in much of the world would be only so happy to have that as the worst of their problems with their government.

1 comment:

PGP said...

Let the mocking continue.......

The liberal/left MSM is entitled to its prerogatives and easy life without responsibility to report facts and without having to find the new location for the microphones......yeah right!

How about moving them OUTSIDE the buildings to the steps??