I sounded the warning more than six years ago, when I was still reporting and when the federal Conservatives only led a MINORITY government: Prime Minister Stephen Harper was silencing civil servants.
The first I noticed occurred with federal fisheries officials, who had always been quite helpful and available to explain to Canadians (media reporters are only the messengers) what was really going on in areas of public concern regarding their work. Then Harper’s goons (ministerial bosses) all but shut them down … requiring them to get permission from Ottawa to even give an interview and telling them what to say …or not to say …or refer questions to higher brass in the capital …often not available “that day”.
I other words, control or kill the story.
For the Tory government, that was no doubt often worth the effort … many media outlets, in the age of doing more with less, lacked the resources to pursue the story as they should have and would do the story “the government’s way” or drop it and move onto something else.
And under Harper’s majority, things have gotten even worse: control of the “message” or denial of open free access to officials is now routine.
The public has paid the price … denied full and timely information … while the centralist CONSERVATIVE government has grabbed greater control than ever before over our right to know.
So much for the Tory supposed ideological belief if in small government, with very limited control over our freedoms, our lives and our access to information.
Where are the conservative voices that so often railed in the past about Big Government, Liberal and NDP Big Brother mentalities? Why so silent when a Conservative government turns its back so easily and so widely on the public’s right to know?
Fortunately, there are those in the blogosphere and the media who will NOT let this issue die.
One of the most sharpest thorns in the government’s side is journalist Michael Harris of the website www.ipolitics.ca .
In February, Harris wrote two terrific pieces: Feb 7 “New Policy Gives Government Power to Muzzle DFO Scientists” , Feb. 12 “DFO and Science: a Fish Story “ and Feb 14: We’re living in a Golden Age of Falsehood” that detailed why he describes Harper as “the Lance Armstrong of politics …minus the urine test”.
Terrific work! All three deserve careful reading.
And among his examples, how the Federal Fisheries Minister was telling the House of Commons one thing about controls on publishing material …while his own scientists were secretly telling the opposite was true .. “one of them even posted documents on the Internet showing precisely how the rues of changed.”
I found it interesting that the loudest sustained voices against Harper’s muzzling mania is coming from the blogosphere.
To his credit, CKNW’s Bill Good had Harris on his show last Friday (Feb. 15) at 9:30 a.m. and you can access it in the station’s Radio Vault…Click here.
Fascinating… and frightening information!
The MSM should be doing much more to keep this issue front and centre wherever and whenever Harper…or any of his Ministers … appear, speak or take questions.
And so should REAL conservatives … who so often warn against government muzzling of information …when others are in power.
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