For news junkies, it has become a televised “must-see”: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau kicks off most days at 8:15 Pacific time with a Covid-19 briefing, right in front of his home, broadcast live across the country on CBC Newsworld.
Just after 9 a.m., federal health officials and various Cabinet ministers on Parliament Hill follow up with their own televised technical Covid related briefings; then throughout the day, by an assortment of provincial Premiers, ministers and health officers … right up to the 3 p.m. daily BC briefings/announcements by Health Minister Adrian Dix and Public Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry … and sometimes Premier John Horgan.
And ALL of these events include my favorite feature: extended opportunities by reporters, in person or on the phone to ask questions … eliciting responses, if not always real answers.
Having watched now for weeks, there is one very peculiar … but telling … aspect of the Prime Minister’s press conferences that I’ve noticed, but other media types have not, or are too complicit or intimidated to report.
When it comes to posing questions, the Anglophone reporters, almost without exception, initially address Trudeau as “Prime Minister” … showing respect for him, and more importantly, for the office he holds.
However, almost NONE of the Francophone reporters call Trudeau “Premier Ministre”: opting for “Monsieur Trudeau” instead. Almost NONE of them EVER address him by his title! Day after day, it has been “Monsieur Trudeau”.
During my own 38-year reporting career, in print and on BCTV … including stints at Vancouver City Hall, the Legislature in Victoria and eight years on Parliament Hill … when given an opportunity to pose a question during press briefings or in interviews, I ALWAYS addressed Prime Ministers, Premiers and Mayors by their titles.
Of course, that didn’t stop me from asking tough questions, hopefully some zingers, or even being quite aggressive in my follow-ups, when I felt they were evading questions or even lying.
But reporters should always be respectful, polite and recognize the POSITION these elected leaders hold … even if they don’t personally like, agree with or, frankly, respect them as individuals.
So I have wondered why the Francophone media … senior reporters that they must be, covering Parliament Hill … when asking questions, DON’T address the Prime Minister as “Premier Ministre”?
Do they disdain Trudeau as an individual … and let their personal prejudice subvert their professionalism ? Are they separatists? Just rude? Arrogant? Poorly raised? Then I thought, maybe it’s a cultural thing … after all, Quebec n’est pas un province comme les autres?
Because at 10 a.m. Pacific time, when Premier Francois Legault holds his daily televised briefing sessions in Quebec, the Francophone reporters regularly address HIM as “Premier Ministre”!
So why is Canada’s Prime Minister not addressed by his title by French-speaking media; but Quebec’s Premier is???
There clearly is a double standard in effect by the Francophone media … in their treatment of the two leaders … seems to moi!
And what makes it all the more curious is that, under Trudeau’s governance, the Francophone media are very well treated at his and his ministers’ press conferences: recognized to ask about HALF of the questions in the allotted time, even though Francophones represent less than 24 per cent of Canada’s population.
You would think they would/should be grateful.
It would make for an interesting story if any of our “national” media … English or Francais … had the temerity and the journalistic integrity to go back over their tapes, see how correct I am, and then turn the spotlight around and focus a few questions on their own about their disrespectful behaviour!
I’m sure the Prime Minister … le Premier Ministre … and many other Canadians would find that story most interesting.
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