Harper Imposes Limit of Five Questions Per Day – Less If He Gets Asked Why

This story initially ran as the headline story in The Star on April 1st. Curiously, it was later pulled and substituted with an article about twittering about the election debates. However, the  comments responding to the original story remain, evidence of The Star’s flip-flop. Luckily, the original story was saved and posted on Politics and its Discontents. I am reposting it here, because anything that gets pulled after speaking the truth about our current anti-democratic Prime Minister and his hermetically sealed campaign, deserves to be widely read. As Gille Duceppe said of Harper today: “That guy would be happy with no opposition and no Parliament.” Apparently, Harper would also prefer to do without those pesky journalists, too.

The cost to travel with Stephen Harper’s campaign? $10,100 a week.

The number of questions Harper takes each day? Five.

Looking like an over-controlling politician? Priceless.

The bright yellow fence that kept reporters penned in far from the Conservative leader Thursday during a campaign event here was an apt metaphor for his first week dealing with the media — controlling and restrictive.

Now Harper is facing questions about his questions. Namely, why he isn’t willing to take more. And he’s refusing to answer. Harper takes only five questions from the media each day — four from the reporters on his tour and one from a local reporter. His political rivals place few restrictions on how many questions they take.

That’s produced tension between the Conservative leader and the journalists following his campaign tour as it criss-crosses the country.

Harper has settled into a routine in his first week — a morning announcement, followed by a media availability. Journalists on the campaign tour get four questions — usually two in English and two in French — and a local reporter is given the chance to lob a question at the Conservative leader, as well. But the situation boiled over Thursday when Harper was asked — using one of the five questions — why he refused to take more than a handful of questions from reporters each day. Harper refused to answer, but when pressed, suggested he would be open to addressing any issues he hadn’t already discussed.
But he never explained his rationale for not fielding more questions.

“In terms of questions, is there any specific issue that I haven’t addressed that you want me to address?” Harper asked.

“If there’s another subject, I’ll answer,” the Conservative leader told journalists behind the fence, more than 10 metres away.

Later, Harper supporter David Cameron, who was at the event, came up to the journalists to express his frustration with their questions.

“You guys reporting the news or making it?” he asked.

Senator Michael MacDonald, a Harper appointee, tweeted: “Lovely day on Halifax waterfront for PM’s trade status. CBC reporters (Terry) Milewski and (Jennifer) Ditchburn were like attack dogs afterward — pathetic!”

In fact, Ditchburn works for The Canadian Press.

MacDonald later wrote that he withdrew the comment.

The New Democrats soon issued a news release noting that MacDonald — who was vice-president of the Conservative Party of Canada before Harper put him in the Senate in 2009 — earned $132,300 last year and rang up expenses totalling $257,142.

Harper spokesman Dimitri Soudas said later the Conservative leader has several media interviews with radio and television stations across the country this week.

More links:

The Star Finally Exposes Truth About Harper’s Press Restrictions

Harper’s ‘Five Questions” Policy Rankles Journalists

Tim Harper: Keep Those Conservative Questions To Yourself

And this article, written by one of the “attack dogs” herself: Stephen Harper Takes Heat Over Conservative Campaign Media Chill

Link to the original Star article: Tensions Rise As Conservative Leader Imposes Daily Cap On Queries From Reporters At Campaign Events (don’t forget to check out the comments section)

And this one, that shows Canadians are waking up: Protestors Hold Anti-Harper Rally on P.E.I

0 thoughts on “Harper Imposes Limit of Five Questions Per Day – Less If He Gets Asked Why”

  1. LOL – when do you think the majority of Canadians are going to catch on to the controlling Steve’s limited bag of tricks?

    • Thanks for sharing the photo, Antonia – it supports the statement that this indeed was The Star’s front page story, only to be pulled from its online version later on in the day – a little harder to do that with the hard copy :).


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