Reporters please leave – the opposition leader is going to speak

The Prime Minister’s Office has apologized for an incident at the Museum of Civilization Friday night, in which a PMO staffer hustled reporters out of the room after a speech by Prime Minister Stephen Harper – and before Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff spoke.

According to a Canadian Press report, Harper and Ignatieff were both at an event hosted by the Indian High Commission to launch “The Year of India in Canada.”

The Canadian Press report said reporters knew Ignatieff was present but not that he would be speaking, and therefore left without protest.

Leslie Church, Mr. Ignatieff’s communications director, was quoted by The Globe and Mail as saying: ““It’s an appalling abuse of power on a day when the government is under fire for using public resources to fund an ethnic media campaign to restrict the press from hearing the leader of the Opposition at a non-partisan, multicultural celebration.”

The Globe also reported that the PMO said it did not organize the event. The report did not say why, as the PMO did not organize the event, its staffers were telling reporters when to leave. The National Post’s report said some reporters refused to leave and were present for Ignatieff’s speech.  The next time PMO staff tell reporters what to do at someone else’s event, one hopes they will be universally ignored.