If it’s not scripted, don’t expect much

No one can accuse Prime Minister Stephen Harper of being open and accountable with Canadians.

Well, at least journalists can’t. And his latest ‘five questions only’ campaign strategy is doing little to change that. Those working in the media who have had to write anything remotely controversial involving the federal government are well aware of the growing stranglehold our authoritarian prime minister and the PMO has in determining what messages are suitable for public consumption.

It’s federal election time, that increasingly frequent phenomena where hopeful or incumbent prime ministers should want to reach out to the media with a desire to appear desirable.

Not our man Harper. Sure, he’ll tolerate posing for photos staged in pubs and mechanics shops mingling with Average Joes and Janes (to help tell them apart, Harper is the one in the suit).

But when it comes to taking questions from reporters about serious issues of the day, they must either be scripted (with a scripted answer ready at hand), or else there’s a cap: four a day from his travelling media posse, and one from local media.

Here’s how this might unfold: How was your flight, Mr. Prime Minister? (1) Are you enjoying your visit to our community? (2) Why are you only allowing five questions a day? (3) Aren’t you the prime minister responsible for Canada’s Accountability Act? (4) Why are you not answering my questions? (5)

Harper: “No more questions.”

Essentially, journalists have the option of running supplied Conservative spin on evil coalitions (the federal political kind, not the kind that topples dictators), or make do with oft-repeated snippets of party line that don’t amount to a whole lot of meaningful information.

And when journalists are not getting the information, neither are the Canadian people.

-Salmon Arm Observer