Our Government Continues to Restrict Media Access

We’re in an era of media amalgamation. This is generally considered a bad thing for freedom of the press and unbiased reporting.

Unfortunately, we’ve also got a Conservative government in power that seeks to curtail those freedoms further. Let’s see what our Prime Minister’s done in the past eighteen months on this front:

What’s Prime Minister Harper’s latest restriction? Quietly muzzling Environment Canada:

The new policy, which went into force in recent weeks and sent a chill through the department research divisions, is designed to control the department’s media message and ensure there are no “surprises” for Environment Minister John Baird and senior management when they open the newspaper or turn on the television, according to documents obtained by Canwest News Service.

You know, aside from their head-in-the-sand environmental policy, I can’t complain much about the Harper government (of course, I’ve been out of the country for the past year).

But these tactics aren’t in the service of the Canadian people. They only serve self-interests. They serve to conceal, to obfuscate and, I assume, to deceive. They show a marked disrespect for the electorate.

Does anybody think these policies are a good idea? I’d love to hear a rational defense from a Conservative supporter (Stephen, maybe?), for example.


  1. Yes, don’t you just miss the Liberals? They were so good to us people. They were such good leaders. Do you remember the millions we paid for the sponsorship scandal, for the gun registry, the $500 million in fees for cancelling the Sea King helicopters, the HRDC misuse of $1 billion in funds, the $101 million spent on luxury Challenger jets, oh and Sergio Marchi making off with over $700,000 in money raised for his constituents office (but that one never made it to the press). What was that again, Stephen Harper isn’t kind to the press?? Oh my.

  2. Marie-Anne: I didn’t vote for the Liberals either, nor did I speak in praise of them.

    Yours is not a rational defense of these policies. Instead, it’s a classic Internet debate strategy–misdirect and attack. It seems to argue that “well, this party is at least slightly less bad than the previous one, so you shouldn’t complain”. Or even worse, “the previous government failed in many ways, just not the way you’re discussing, so you shouldn’t complain.”

    I can’t really say if the current government is more or less meritorious than the previous one. That wasn’t my question.

  3. Darren,

    If it were a matter of national security or something equivalent, I might defend it on those grounds. The example that comes to mind is that during the Iranian Revolution, PM Joe Clark quietly engineered the press (and everyone else) so that nobody ever bothered to follow up to Opposition Leader Trudeau’s one-time remark about how a good ally would help evacuate Americans from Iran. Turns out that we were evacuating them disguised as Canadians, but obviously, publicizing that would’ve been bad news all around.

    But as I said, that’s national security. There’s a pretty big difference between that and science, the environment, finances, the processes by which contracts are awarded and oooh, pretty much everything else.

    Hmm… The only excuse I can come up with is that there might be an argument that if the government controls the press agenda, they can carefully navigate some ambitious piece of legislation through the House or whatever. But again, that’s subjective. A good idea tends to be in the eye of the beholder, too.

    But the short answer is, No, I can’t justify it. Can you ever justify state control of the press? (Then again, I bristle at the CBC for the same reason!)

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