Sunday, November 19, 2006

Accountability at work

The PM elected on a platform of accountability has issued his most direct statement yet to the effect that he not only doesn't see that principle applying to him, but is proud to be less accessible than most APEC leaders:
It was the Korean government that told Canadian reporters about the visit of a Canadian diplomat to North Korea.

And the news of his discussion with the Chinese president came by e-mail to reporters travelling with him 14 hours after the fact. It was the Chinese foreign ministry official who gave the Canadian media the first substantive description of the meeting.

Mr. Harper's staff also blocked Canadian journalists from attending all but the first of Mr. Harper's public activities, even while foreign media were present or invited.

“I think if you're going to have frank discussions with other leaders, then you know, except obviously for the broad objectives you're trying to pursue, I think the details of those discussions have to be private,” Mr. Harper said. “If you run out of private discussions every 10 minutes and give a play-by-play of everything that was said, nobody will have a frank discussion with you.”
Or, to be more concise: "If the public knows what I'm doing most of the time, they won't let me get away with it. So they shouldn't know anything. No more questions."

Mind you, it's clear that other countries and their media delegations aren't playing by such restricted rules. In fact, even China's government is showing more openness to the media than Canada's - which must surely serve to both embarrass PMS and deflate his argument when he tries to lecture Chinese leaders on the closed elements of their own society.

Unfortunately, PMS is probably only being encouraged by the continuing presence of reporters who should know better than to waste their time looking for any substantial comment from Canada's Secretive New Government. Which means that it's long past time for the media to take the Cons' hint and start spending more time looking for what's being hidden, rather than trying to press for official word from a PM who isn't interested in providing it.

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