Spat erupts between PM and Quebec premier over how to plan a news conference

Andy Radia
Politics Reporter
Canada Politics

Quebec Premier Pauline Marois and Prime Minister Stephen Harper are embroiled in bit of a "spat."

No, it doesn't have anything to do with Quebec sovereignty; this disagreement is about a press conference.

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Marois and Harper will meet Friday afternoon to discuss funding for the province's ailing infrastructure. The two leaders were supposed have a joint press conference following the tete-a-tete but, according to the Montreal Gazette, Marois put a kibosh on that.

"Marois’s staff balked at Ottawa’s request that the standard Harper news conference format apply. That usually means four questions from journalists, with their names submitted in advance.

Quebec’s format is more spontaneous, follow-up questions are allowed and there are no lists. The exchanges can become heated.

The leaders will instead appear on the same stage to make what Marois’s agenda says is a “common announcement,” meaning each will read a statement in front of the cameras but then hold separate news conferences."

The Harper government's stance probably shouldn't come as a surprise to any of us. As explained by The Hill Times' Laura Ryckewaert in 2011, this is the 'modus operandi' of the his administration.

"Soon after Mr. Harper won power, the Prime Minister’s staff started deciding which reporters could ask questions, skipping those they suspected weren’t in the government’s favour," she wrote.

"Media access to the Prime Minister and his caucus, in general, has become minimal, with MPs and ministers kept on a short, silent leash."

Earlier this week, Stephen Harper Tweeted a #dayinthelife of the prime minister in an apparent attempt to appear more 'open' and transparent to the Canadian public.

[ Related: Stephen Harper tweets his #dayinthelife as prime minister ]

But, alas, it looks like it's business as usual for the PMO.

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