Many in the Canadian mainstream media have been waxing lyrical over Liberal PM Justin Trudeau since he was elected last fall. In fact, sometimes the fawning has been embarrassing and Kardashian.
For example, I can’t remember where I saw it this week, but I read a column by a female reporter in a UK online paper that referred to our PM as Mr. Hotpants. Now, if that is not Kardashian, I don’t know what is.
Which brings me to the main point of this post. The PM is popular with the media, that we know. So, who are pulling his strings? How different is his PMO and former PM Stephen Harper’s?
Remember, Mr. Harper was always described as secretive and a control freak and that his staff went out of their way to keep he and his Cabinet away from Canadian reporters — at least from those in the national media.
Hmmm. So, let’s look at some of what we know about how Mr. Trudeau spent this week.
First there was the Cabinet retreat. As Mark Bonokoski wrote in the Sun earlier this week, when the Cabinet and the PM arrived in Alberta’s Kananaskis for a Cabinet retreat, only a “family” photo op was allowed.
No questions were permitted and certainly no details — although some facts about the agenda did leak out over the two days of the retreat, like a presentation on deliverology.
Then, yesterday, according to journalist David Akin, Mr. Trudeau made an historic visit to Shoal Lake 40, a Native reserve on the border between Ontario and Manitoba.
That reserve has been asking for federal government financial and expert help to deal with their drinking water problem for years and have been under a water advisory for 17 of those years! So, the fact that the PM was visiting was newsworthy.
Good on Mr. Trudeau for visiting. The problem, however, is that Canadians, who paid the bill for the PM’s travel, are not going to find out the reason for the visit until a U.S. media outlet is ready to share their documentary.
Specifically, Akin says that Kate Purchase, the Director of Communications in the Trudeau PMO, advised all the Canadian media, including APTN, that they could not record the visit in any format because VICE Media, a New York based operation, was using the visit to prepare a documentary.
Meaning, Mr. Trudeau was more concerned about his media image and message control than he was about either the Shoal Lake drinking water problem or communicating to Canadians in real time.
The crux of the matter is that the Canadian media, the same media that constantly decried former PM Harper’s message control, is now seeing that the more these things change, the more they stay the same.
So much for sunny ways. So much for transparency. So much for doing things differently.
One hopes that the lack of media access at these two events at least removes the glossy shine on Mr. Trudeau’s halo.