Canadian Prime Minister Harper attempts to muzzle the press

By Keith Jones, wsws.org, 27 May 2006

Canada’s new Conservative Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, is refusing to meet the country’s national press.

Harper announced Wednesday that he will no longer give press conferences for the parliamentary press gallery, after journalists balked at the attempts by the prime minister’s office to dictate who can and cannot ask him questions.

On Tuesday many reporters walked out of a Harper press conference to protest his handlers’ demands that prior to such conferences they be given lists of who wants to question the prime minister so that they and Harper can choose journalists to be called upon for questions.

“We can’t accept that the prime minister’s office would decide who gets to ask questions,” declared Yves Malo, the president of the press gallery and a reporter for the French-language television network TVA. “Does that mean that when there’s a crisis they’ll only call upon journalists they expect softball questions from?”

Harper subsequently justified his attempt to vet and muzzle the press corps—an action patterned after steps taken by the Bush White House—by charging the national media with anti-Conservative and pro-liberal bias. “Unfortunately,” said Harper, “the press gallery has taken the view that they are going to be the opposition to the government.”[...]

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Photo: The Star

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