Election tightens media policies: news report

The current election campaign has shut reporters out of Parks Canada, according to a recent story in the Canmore, Alta.-based Rocky Mountain Outlook.

A Sept. 18th story in the Outlook states that since just before the election campaign started, park wardens who work for Parks Canada are no longer allowed to speak with reporters without permission, including questions on routine matters. Reporter Cathy Ellis writes:

“The Harper government’s rigid control on information has rolled into
the region, with local park wardens now forbidden from speaking to the
media on operational matters without approval from spin-doctors. As
the federal Conservative government stickhandles its way through week
two of a tightly scripted federal election campaign, all Parks Canada
media interviews, including those on routine rescues, must be directed
through the media relations office.”

According to the article, Outlook reporters have historically been able to phone park
wardens directly on most operational issues, such as rescue operations
or wildlife issues, while they would go through media relations for other, more significant park issues.

The article stems from the fact that wardens were barred from speaking about a specific incident, the recovery of a body in
Bow Lake. David Taras, a professor with the University of Calgary’s communication and culture faculty, calls the Harper government “control freaks.” He adds:

“This is a campaign that’s tightly scripted. It’s no-errors baseball.
They’re trying to control every aspect of the process, make sure every
day’s a good news day.”