NDP rookie MPs avoid media questions, even though party criticized Harper for same thing

In an ironic twist, the NDP, one of the parties that criticized Prime Minster Stephen Harper for not answering more than four questions at press conferences during the election, isn't letting its rookie MPs answer any - at least not to the national media.

In a column for The Hill-Times, Kristen Shane describes how the NDP are "cautiously limiting media access to its 68 rookie MPs."

"You watch (deputy leader and House leader) Thomas Mulcair walk behind them (new MPs) and he's got everything but an earpiece," Liberal MP Rodger Cuzner told Shane. "He looks like a secret service (agent) when he walks along with the younger members."

Perhaps you can't blame the NDP. After all, there have already been some embarrassing blunders.

Shortly after the May 2 election one rookie MP, Marc-Andre Morin, told a reporter he had been a supporter of sovereignty for Quebec.

"I supported the Bloc for a long time," said Morin, whose riding is northwest of Montreal.

"I saw that in a certain context it could have been justified," he added. "But I think that things have changed in Canada and Quebec, and it is perhaps not as pertinent now as it was in the past."

The party's youngest MP, 19-year-old Pierre-Luc Dusseault, raised eyebrows with a" less than ringing endorsement of Canadian unity" in a radio interview.

"Sovereignty will be done in Quebec. And Quebecers will decide if they want to be a country," he told Toronto radio host John Oakley. "(While) awaiting this moment, I've said why not give us a real government that is good for us . . . We will respect sovereignty with the NDP."

Toronto Star columnist Gillian Steward compares NDP Leader Jack Layton's leash to that of Preston Manning's in 1993 when he also had to deal with a crop of rookies.

"One of the Reform rookies was 34-year-old Calgary MP Stephen Harper, who made a name for himself with the Ottawa Press Gallery as Reform's "go-to" guy for quotes and comments. He could be found lurking in the background of almost every media scrum waiting to be asked for his point of view on issues of the day," she wrote.

"Others were so outspoken on issues such as aboriginal rights, gay rights, abortion and capital punishment that Manning eventually put them on a very short leash."

At the time, many criticized Manning for being too controlling but ultimately it paid off - Stephen Harper apparently did well for himself.

(CP Photo: Thomas Mulcair)

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