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Is that new Conservative Media HQ really THAT expensive?

UPDATE @ 4:36pm: Elizabeth Thompson of the Montreal Gazette has posted a further clarification in the comments section. Obviously if you’ve read Taylor’s site, she’s the reporter who complained about his presence there. She gives her version of events

So there was a post by Stephen Taylor yesterday at his site where he alleged the Parliamentary Press Gallery (and 1 reporter in particular) were wrong in their getting Commons security and escorting Stephen from Parliament, Hill Pass notwithstanding. Stephen also made mention of an earlier incident when “two female staffers from the Conservative Resource Group were similarly removed from the Hill by security when the Liberals complained to the Gallery”. He said further that the “Prime Ministers office called the sergeant-at-arms (who works on behalf of the Speaker on Hill security) and was told that the Gallery and Liberals were wrong to ask for the ouster of the CRG staff from Dion scrums (and scrums in general).”

The Conservative Resource Group in case you’re wondering, are paid hacks by the Conservative Party designed to find footage to run in campaign ads (such as attack ads). I don’t doubt the PMO is claiming the Gallery or the Liberals are wrong – they wouldn’t want to lose their free footage they would get by sitting in on scrums – but I wondered about the circumstances, and thought I’d do some poking around myself. I got in touch with someone who has good contacts with the media.. and I asked them whether the reporter in question was justified in asking for Stephen’s removal.

“Yes, because she had good reason, he isn’t a reporter.. he’s not bound by a code of ethics”

So, I asked, if I were to go up there with a pass like what Stephen possessed, or if any Liberal blogger/NDP Blogger/Progressive Blogger/Green Blogger did, but had a camera in my possession (which seems to be the issue the reporter had) we’d all have been kicked out too?


Correct, I was told. It has nothing to do with political affiliation. It has everything to do with not being a reporter and not being bound to their code of ethics.

I asked that person to elaborate further – particularly on the Conservative Resource Group people – why were they kicked out of there? I was told that the rules are only the Parliamentary Press Gallery (PPG) and CPAC are allowed to film scrums – CPAC inside the House + 1 Canadian Press photo, and the rest of the media outside the House in the Foyer. The concern is, according to this contact, that the Tories through their resource group or through partisan bloggers like Taylor may want to use scrum footage for their attack ads, and don’t want to pay the networks for the use of that footage. Further to that, if Stephen was allowed in there, the fear is they will have hacks of all political affiliations filming all day, and filming everything. (“Its not like hacks are in short supply around there”, my source sarcastically added).

So, the view from that source is its less to do with PPG bias against bloggers then it is to prevent hackery. My source rhetorically asked me if the Conservatives were so cheap nowadays – perhaps from building their multi-million dollar media bunker designed to get around the media – that they need to send hacks to go film the scrums.

Now, I’m not saying here that Stephen Taylor is actively looking to do that, but I am saying that’s what is at play here, and my source said they (as in the PPG) will continue to shoo away partisan bloggers and paid Conservative propagandists (and anyone else who they consider a partisan hack) from using the scrums for partisan advantage.

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7 comments to Is that new Conservative Media HQ really THAT expensive?

  • Is there a link to the code of ethics referred to and is that the sole stumbling block or would that merely be the precursor to another gatekeeper exercise?

    I don’t mind what the restrictions are, and I think there should be some, but I don’t think the PPG, reduced to three or four conglomerates as it is (West Wing devotees will recall something similar) should be the sole deciders – rather the Speaker should be the one to accredit. The criteria for any new media accreditation should be – are you adding to as opposed to replicating existing coverage and are you a front for PMO/LPCHQ/Dipper Central. If the answers are yes and no respectively, the PPG should not be able to retain any kind of exclusivity and might just have to raise their game a bit.

  • [quote comment=”3076″]….The Conservative Resource Group in case you’re wondering, are paid hacks by the Conservative Party designed to find footage to run in campaign ads (such as attack ads)…..

    You’re factually incorrect. Try doing some of this “journalism” thing and research before you post these lies.[/quote]

    I don’t think so, CL. Its Conservative Research – they do “research” on the opposition parties, looking for things to exploit. Everyone else has research groups too, but those groups haven’t been known, as Ms. Thompson said prior, of trying to exploit free scrum footage – hence my “hacks” remark.

    You may not like my harshness, but there you are. (The media source I talked to about this also called them “hacks”, so I’m not the only one who thinks of them as that). However, if you’d like to prove they aren’t hacks, be my guest. I might be partisan in my description of them.. but I dont think I’m lying about them (and I’m allowed to be partisan if I want to be). As far as I’m concerned.. trying to get free scrum footage without paying for it from the networks is hackery.. and that would be my description of other parties Opposition Research Bureaus if they tried the same stunt.

  • CL

    ….The Conservative Resource Group in case you’re wondering, are paid hacks by the Conservative Party designed to find footage to run in campaign ads (such as attack ads)…..

    You’re factually incorrect. Try doing some of this “journalism” thing and reserach before you post these lies.

  • Ethompson

    For those interested in better understanding why Stephen Taylor was stopped from filming and asked to leave by security, here is a copy of the note I posted on his website. It was not about whether or not it was a blogger. It was about whether he was respecting the rules associated with the pass he obtained to access Parliament Hill.

    Elizabeth Thompson

    *************

    Stephen,

    What happened budget day had nothing to do with whether or not you are a blogger – it had everything to do with the fact that you were violating the rules that go with the pass you were wearing around your neck.
    Different kinds of passes entitle the wearer to different types of access. The pass you got identifying you as part of an MPs office no doubt allows you to go some places that the media are not allowed to go. On the flip side, it does not allow you to tape or videotape people in the foyer of the House of Commons. If every one of the 308 MPs sent a single staffer to tape or videotape other MPs it would be chaos – and dangerous – for MPs and the media in the foyer.
    I can assure you that if I saw anyone without the right credentials doing something that violated the rules that go along with their pass I would also flag it – regardless of their political affiliation. Lately, the Conservatives appear to be the only ones doing it. Odd, since tapes and videotapes are so easily available and the Conservative party has a long history of respecting both the rules and traditions of Parliament Hill.
    As for Garth Turner, his access to the Hill is determined by his status as an MP – not as a blogger. Even then, he has already been told he can’t take his camera into a lot of areas of the parliamentary precinct.

    Elizabeth Thompson

  • Ted

    [quote comment=”3052″]A little off topic but just wondering why Mr. Harper wasn’t at the opening of the CPC ‘media centre'[/quote]
    It’s called plausible deniability. If he isn’t seen anywhere near this huge election war machine and state-of-the-art war room facilities, then it is easier for him to go on trying to convince Canadians that he doesn’t want an election and only Dion does.

  • Annie

    A little off topic but just wondering why Mr. Harper wasn’t at the opening of the CPC ‘media centre’

  • […] Update: Scott Tribe got in touch with The Parliamentary Press Gallery regarding protocal for bloggers. I got in touch with someone who has good contacts with the media.. and I asked them whether the reporter in question was justified in asking for Stephen’s removal. […]

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