Tuesday, March 28, 2006

A Little Bit Of Heaven In Ottawa

Alberta is fondly refered to as Gods Country. In the house that King Peter Lougheed built; the post 1971 PC controled Alberta Legislature, the TV cameras all focus on the Government Bench and the Premiers front row.

There is no ability to pan across to the opposition or even the public gallery. And if the Premier moves out of range of these anchored camera's well they miss the action... as occured recently when King Ralph threw legislation at a page.

The Press gallery was two floors below any offices of importance. But the fridge used to have beer so that made it barable.

The Press in Alberta is dominated by Kleins autarchy, obey the rules or don't get called. Bite the hand that feeds you press tips and well, so much for your career as a political reporter. And then there is the Alberta Media version of FAUX News the CFCN network, and Limbaugh in Ruthordford.

Back in the ninties the only provincial public radio station in Canada; CKUA was fully privatized and lost its perennial contract to broadcast live from the Alberta Legislature during Question Period when it was held.

They had done this for seventy five years, and even survived the tyranny of the Social Credit government of Bible Bill. But in one fell swoop of anti-democracy the only station willing to carry the QP was cut off from access due to increased costs charged to them now that they were privatized. The logic befuddles the mind.

So good luck in Ottawa, you mighty media giants. You are about to face the wrath of Gods country. How DARE YOU PRESUME on the PM. Welcome to a little bit of Alberta in Ottawa. A little bit of Heaven for Cesar Harper.

Reporters face off with PMO over limits on access

Harper tightens secrecy, limits access

Tory gov't secrecy blasted by Graham

Battle heats up between media and Prime Minister's Office

Security on Parliament Hill barred reporters from attending a pair of Stephen Harper photo opportunities Monday as the Prime Ministers Office flexed its media messaging muscles.

The made-for-TV confrontation between security and reporters outside Harper's office door graphically illustrated the deteriorating relations between a PMO seeking total message control and news media defending their hard-won access.

It's a battle that may be beginning to resonate beyond the cozy precincts of the Peace Tower as the Conservatives threaten to hold secret cabinet meetings and withhold information about visiting heads of state.

"Harper ran on a campaign of open and accountable government," New Democrat MP Charlie Angus said Monday.

"And the first thing we see him doing is putting plywood up over all his windows and barring access to the doors. My question is, why? What is Harper afraid of?"

Among a series of media access restrictions already imposed or being contemplated, the most inflammatory is a plan to bar reporters from staking out cabinet meetings, where they can ask departing ministers about their portfolios.

In order to stop the practice, the PMO is suggesting it will keep the weekly meetings secret. At a minimum, it hopes to force reporters to wait a floor below the cabinet room, so that only ministers who want to speak - or have permission - will face the media.

Emmanuelle Latraverse, a Radio-Canada reporter and president of the press gallery, said the PMO is attempting to claw back access rights that have taken years to win.

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