Thursday, October 19, 2006

I love a good "Tories in trouble" headline in the morning

Really, what could be better? These guys are violating one of the cardinal rules in politics. Make the media your friend. Not your enemy. Otherwise, they'll seek out such stories and run with them. They'll make it their daily mission to trip you up due to your lack of availability to them. Due to your changing of rules that all on Parliament Hill have lived under for years, and relatively well at that. And it doesn't help if you're a government who is apparently paranoid to such an extent that it's forbidding its elected members from communicating with the people. Pretty unbelievable communications strategy for politicians!

The damaging details here:
Mr. Harper and his communications director, Sandra Buckler, have imposed strict rules on when and how the government interacts with the news media.

Cabinet ministers have served as silent backdrops to announcements by the Prime Minister, such as last week's press conference in Vancouver, where Mr. Harper announced that a Clean Air Act would be introduced within a week. Four cabinet ministers were at his side for that announcement.

The Prime Minister has stopped taking questions from reporters on Parliament Hill in response to the unresolved debate with the Press Gallery over who should control the list of questioners. Members of Parliament are also discouraged from speaking with reporters.

The Globe and Mail has learned that at a caucus meeting last month, Mr. Harper informed MPs that cuts were coming to various government programs. He said that spokespeople would be assigned on the issue and that MPs should not comment, even if the cuts affected their ridings.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, some MPs said they had no problem with the order and described the comments as consistent with the Prime Minister's disciplined approach to public policy announcements. Others interpreted Mr. Harper's remarks as threatening.

Some Tories have quietly expressed concern with restrictions on their ability to speak out. One caucus source said recently that despite personal admiration for Mr. Harper's successes, the Prime Minister's Office does not use MPs enough.
There is something very strange about Stephen Harper's fear or loathing (or both) of the media that is driving his control of this communications process. It makes you naturally wonder, who is it that he needs to silence? What is he trying to hide?