For all those Canadians who think Michael Ignatieff, the newly-installed Liberal Leader, is an intellectual snob, read on: He enjoys keeping up on all the celebrity news and gossip in tabloid magazines, including Star Magazine and HELLO! Canada. As a result, he says he knows all about the ravages of cellulite, the dimply-skin problem that affects mostly women. Indeed, his knowledge of that issue is as rich as it is of the carbon cap and trade system. However, he is just enough of a snob that he refuses to be seen buying the magazines; his wife, Zsuszanna Zsohar, does that.
Ian Davey is Michael Ignatieff’s principal secretary and he admires Stephen Harper’s steely control over the national media and the Conservative caucus.
More than once, Mr. Davey has dismissed a reporter’s attempt to get behind the scenes of a Liberal decision, noting the Harper Tories do not allow the media that kind of access.
Tearing a page from the Harper playbook is revolutionary for a Liberal. For years the Grits have suffered from very public in-fighting – battles which landed on the front pages of newspapers, aiding and abetting the party’s demise – while not a peep has been heard from the Tory caucus since Mr. Harper became leader.
“It’s worked for Harper,” Mr. Davey said, suggesting that iron discipline over caucus members and keeping the media at arm’s-length are the keys to victory.
Yesterday, at the end of CTV’s Question Period broadcast, there was some strong and remarkable evidence of journalists pushing back against the Prime Minister’s Office. Rather than explain the story, why don’t I just put the transcript here? I would imagine we’ll be hearing more about this in the days to come:
JANE TABER: Craig, we’ve got to address a complaint. We received a complaint from the Prime Minister’s director of communications Sandra Buckler about something you said on the show about the fact the Environment Minister or the Finance Minister would not come on to talk about Dion’s green plan.
CRAIG OLIVER: And it was accurate for me to say they had both turned us down. However, they did offer us Jason Kenney, the Minister of Multiculturalism, to attack the government’s green plan, and we said, sorry, we’re not talking about multiculturalism, we’re talking about taxation or we’re talking about environment. And so they’re insisting that we should take their person. And the question really is who’s producing the show? Are we producing the show or is the Prime Minister’s office producing the show? Would somebody tell me?
First Jason Kenney gets rebuffed by CTV and then Craig Oliver mistakes the Liberals for the government (and Stephane Dion as the Prime Minister by extension)
ADDENDUM: Why wouldn’t Jason Kenney be permitted to speak for the government? After all, he was the first one quoted on the Conservative “Will You Be Tricked” ad campaign in Sun Media. He’s been quoted in just about every Conservative Party press release attacking Dion’s Tax Shift plan. Kenney has also been the government point man in QP answering all of the questions put forward by the Liberals on the topic of the environment during this latest Tax Trick/Green Shift arc. Kenney also had a press conference at the National Press Theatre to give the government’s reaction to Dion’s plan. It sets a horrible precedent for journalists to choose who can respond on behalf of the government.