Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who has rarely faced reporters in the past year, had his own camera crew tag along on his travels this week.
The resulting video, which has been posted to the Prime Minister’s website, opens with the Maple Leaf Forever and then runs, event by event, through Mr. Harper’s past week.
The video shows him taking in a hockey game with his son Ben, chatting with Iain Black of the Vancouver Board of Trade, promising a new leg of the Trans-Canada Trail and then announcing the completion of the highway to Tuktoyaktuk. He boasts about trade deals and visits with adorable school children.
“We have a responsibility to share with Canadians what the government of Canada is doing, the events the Prime Minister is doing, the announcements we make, things like that,” Jason MacDonald, Mr. Harper’s communications director, explained in an interview on Friday.
Canadians are increasingly consuming information online, said Mr. MacDonald, “and we know that increasingly video content is what they go online looking for, things that they can watch.”
Noticeably absent from the video is any interaction with reporters. And journalists have noted that the normal trickle of access they get to Mr. Harper seems to have dried up in recent months as the Senate scandal reverberated through Parliament.
But Mr. MacDonald said it would be unfair to suggest Mr. Harper is no longer disseminating information through regular media channels. There were five extensive year-end interviews with the Prime Minister, he said. They were granted to Postmedia, Global TV, La Presse, TVA, and Fairchild TV, a Chinese-language network.
“Those were extensive interviews with a broad range of questions covering a broad range of topics, including the Senate,” said Mr. MacDonald. In addition to that, he said, Mr. Harper has done a number of regional radio interviews and cultural medial roundtables over the past couple months.
Mr. Harper is not the only world leader to turn to in-house productions while restricting access to the outside. Others, such as U.S. President Barack Obama, have not escaped criticism for the tactic. But Mr. MacDonald said the video produced by the PMO “is just another tool to help communicate to Canadians using a channel and medium that increasingly Canadians are turning to for news and information.”