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Today was a great day for Canadian democracy and press freedom.
After the Trudeau government-created Leaders’ Debate Commission—in cahoots with the Parliamentary Press Gallery—tried to bar journalists from True North and The Rebel from being able to cover the official leadership debates, a judge forced them to give the journalists accreditation in an emergency hearing held hours before the English debate started.
The judge’s decision almost immediately shown to be the right one when a journalist from each organization was poised and threw hardball questions at Trudeau that the parliamentary press gallery would not.
First up was The Rebel‘s Keean Bexte.
“Prime Minister Trudeau, since your multiple use of blackface became an international scandal, Canada’s international reputation has been irreparably harmed. Have you reached out to any African leaders or any leaders from the Middle East to apologize for your conduct?”
Trudeau, in Trudeau fashion, completely ignored the question.
“Canada will continue to engage in a positive, constructive way around the world, standing up for human rights, engaging with leaders right around the world. Because we know that promoting our values and prosperity for everyone around the world is good for Canadians and creates better opportunities for everyone.”
Bexte wasn’t having any of it.
“So that didn’t answer the question at all. Have you spoken to any African leaders or leaders from the Middle East to apologize for your personal conduct?”
“I have continued to engage with leaders around the world in a responsible way. During an election campaign, my focus is connecting with Canadians as I was able to do tonight. I was very pleased to see so many of the questions turn to the environment. In all sections, there was a clear contrast between those on stage who don’t think we should be fighting climate change and those of us who do. And again, we are the only party with a clear plan to fight climate change.”
Bexte was then cut off by another reporter. But not long after, True North‘s Andrew Lawton also got to ask Trudeau a question after the Liberal Leader’s campaign team banned him from the Liberal press bus and had the cops called on him, even though he has a long history working for mainstream publications.
“Good evening Prime Minister, Andrew Lawton from True North. This afternoon a federal court judge ruled that I had a right to be here, to cover this debate as a journalist despite opposition from your Attorney General. This comes after two weeks of me being kicked out or not being allowed into your campaign rallies. The Conservatives have criticized you for being ‘not as advertised.’ You’ve advertised yourself as a champion of press freedom. Will you take a stand right now sir as the leader of the Liberal party and allow me to cover your campaign like every other journalist?”
“We are a party, and we are a country that respects journalistic rights and who respects the freedom of the press and we will continue to,” was Trudeau’s glib response.
“So is that a yes, sir?” Lawton responded since Trudeau’s campaign has blocking him for weeks as he tried to cover them.
“We are a party and a country that respects the hard work and the freedom of the press, and we will continue to.”
These two exchanges just proved within hours of the judge’s decision how vital it is to have a diversity of opinion within the press of Canada so that a diversity of questions are asked. The mainstream press, now receiving some of the $600 million Trudeau-government political press bailout (because they fail to connect with enough Canadians), were largely fine letting Trudeau and the government pick on independent right-wing media.
But when these independent journalists were treated equally, they outshone many of the so-called professionals.
True North founder and Toronto Sun columnist Candice Malcolm said it best after the court victory today:
“Everyone knows what is going on with the parliamentary press gallery. They’re biased. They consider themselves the in-crowd and they are trying to prevent competition and other interesting upstart media companies from coming in with a different perspective, showing a different side of the story, appealing to a different segment of the Canadian population. And they’re trying to act as gatekeepers to stop us, and they failed.”