Thanks to the modern miracle of FOI, the Toronto Star reports today that the Harperites are planning to build a $2 million dollar, government-run media centre. The new centre would be a direct challenge to the 47-year-old National Press Theatre, where on-the-record government news conferences are mediated by executive members of the press gallery.
The new centre would be run entirely by Harper's political staff. This would allow them to do all kinds of fun things, like block certain journalists from attending and using in-house cameras to provide edited footage to broadcast journalists.
It's hard to view this as anything other than an attack on the freedom of Canada's journalists. Harper's house of spin will make it even harder for reporters to access the PM, and those who do get access will have to toe the line lest their privileges be revoked. Sketchy. Nothing like using $2 million in tax payer money to make it more difficult for tax payers to get independent information.
Why are the Tories so scared of the media? I imagine it has something to do with how their dimwit policies don't stand up to scrutiny, so they try to keep the lights out. It's a coward's game, and one that threatens some very basic elements of our democracy.
UPDATE [16/10/07]: The PMO announces the Media Centre is dead. Bad optics much?