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Parliamentary security stand outside the Conservative caucus room during a speech by the Prime Minister in Ottawa on Oct. 16, 2013, before the delivery of the Throne Speech. (ADRIAN WYLD/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Parliamentary security stand outside the Conservative caucus room during a speech by the Prime Minister in Ottawa on Oct. 16, 2013, before the delivery of the Throne Speech. (ADRIAN WYLD/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Tories decry ‘new low’ for media after standoff over reporters’ access to Harper speech Add to ...

After barring reporters from covering one of Prime Minister Stephen Harper's speeches, the Conservative Party is decrying a “new low for the Ottawa media elite” because some TV cameras refused to film the event if reporters weren’t allowed inside.

In an e-mail to Conservative supporters, the Conservatives’ director of political operations, Fred DeLorey, sought to explain why a speech Mr. Harper made to his caucus Wednesday won’t be seen “on the evening news.”

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“You won’t believe what the Press Gallery just did in Ottawa,” Mr. DeLorey began. “Some media decided to boycott an important speech by our Prime Minister – one where he laid out his vision for our country, before today’s Speech from the Throne.”

On Tuesday, the Prime Minister’s Office announced cameras would be welcome inside Wednesday morning’s speech, but not reporters. In the past, both had. And the PMO has clashed recently with people trying to ask questions. One CTV cameraman was reportedly nearly banned from an overseas trip after shouting an impromptu question during one Harper event, while during the summer the RCMP whisked away a reporter who tried to seize a microphone during Mr. Harper’s Northern trip to ask a question.

On Wednesday, some TV stations refused to send in cameras without reporters. Most other media, including newspapers, were never offered the chance to come in at all – and therefore never given any opportunity to cover the speech live, much less boycott it.

The PMO refused to budge and allow in reporters, and most TV stations – all but Sun News – ultimately refused to send in cameras without reporters. So the speech went on without most of the media there. Soon after, the NDP meeting across the hall opened its doors briefly to the press, some of whom covered a speech inside. Mr. DeLorey cited this as an apparent example of bias against the Conservatives, who refused to allow reporters in, in favour of the NDP, who allowed reporters in.

“Rather than send cameras to cover the Prime Minister’s speech, they attended the NDP’s meeting, and were welcomed with cheers and applause. We knew they wouldn’t give us fair coverage – but this is a new low for the Ottawa media elite,” Mr. DeLorey wrote.

Mr. DeLorey took over the role as political operations director from Jenni Byrne, who managed the 2011 election campaign and was brought back into Mr. Harper’s office in August, a move widely seen to help lay the groundwork for the next campaign.

Mr. Harper’s office released portions of the speech live on his Twitter account. The Conservatives have uploaded a video of it.

Follow on Twitter: @josh_wingrove

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