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In this May 13, 2005 file photo, Stephen Harper speaks to the media outside the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa.

JONATHAN HAYWARD/The Canadian Press

Stephen Harper's Conservative government has won this year's Code of Silence Award from the Canadian Association of Journalists.

The annual award recognizing Canada's most secretive government or publicly funded agency was handed out in Toronto Saturday evening.

The federal government was named for keeping information out of public hands on files such as the F-35 program, avoiding questions at media events and for restricting both public and media access to contentious information.

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Association president Hugo Rodrigues said the Harper government was the overwhelming choice of the CAJ's 600 members across the country.

"The death grip on information has long frustrated journalists in this country, but it may now be reaching a point where the public at large is not only empathetic, but shares it," he said.

The CAJ said federal government departments now deal with media almost exclusively by e-mails

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