Harper’s media control continues

Prime Minister Stephen Harper seemed to relax his controlling tendencies toward public information during last fall’s election and his tightrope walk to passing the federal budget. With American president Barack Obama’s visit Harper has returned to form.

Excerpts of a Canadian Press story by Alexander Panetta:

  • “While the White House offered a half-hour briefing Tuesday that focused almost exclusively on the subjects to be raised, Canadian officials remained tight-lipped.”
  • No TV cameras, audio equipment, or reporters will be permitted in the airport lounge where the president will meet with (Gov. Gen. Michaelle) Jean … When asked why the event would be restricted to still cameras alone, Teneycke replied: “That’s a decision that has been made. . . . We can waste time by asking questions, but it won’t change the answer.””
  •  “Footage of Obama’s meeting with Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff will not be easily attainable… The meeting will take place at the military airport hangar where Obama will be arriving, and access to that spot will require grabbing a shuttle bus hours before the session.”
  • “Harper’s spokespeople threatened to cancel (a) press conference if, at any point in the day, a Canadian reporter shouts out a question without being invited to do so. White House reporters habitually bark out queries during photo opportunities with the president. But nobody had better dare pulling such a stunt in Harper’s office. “If you do (ask a question), the photo op will immediately cease,” Teneycke said.”