five questions for stephen harper: post yours here

Stephen Harper - famous for sticking to his prepared script and not answering questions from the media (that is, from the people, because that's as close as we get) - has decided he will answer questions after all.


He'll answer five questions.

Harper has transferred his famously control-freak style of governance from the PMO to the campaign trail. He will answer questions, but only five, and from a media held behind a yellow fence, 12 metres away.

The strategy described by this Vancouver Sun commentary is well-known to USians: it's exactly how Republican handlers worked GWB.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper held his news conference Thursday and declined to tell journalists — corralled behind a yellow fence over 12 metres away — why he limits the daily encounters to just five questions.

The episode highlighted the brewing issue of whether Harper, as the apparent front-runner in the race, is running a campaign in a bubble to prevent embarrassing mistakes.

After several days, it is clear his daily schedule is carefully designed to minimize political risk. Harper has not done any "walkabouts" on city streets where average voters can meet him. Moreover, the photo-ops with voters — such as at a seniors' home and a deli — have been pre-arranged. Also, people who attend rallies must be on a list to gain entry to the event.

Harper only provides one news conference per day, and it is specifically designed to ensure that it is not free-wheeling. Journalists who are travelling with his campaign tour are, as a group, only allowed to ask four questions. One more question goes to a local journalist at the news conference.

On Thursday, Harper was asked to explain why — when Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff and NDP leader Jack Layton provide news conferences with no limits on questions — he insists on no more five questions.

Harper chose not to answer that question and moved on to the next questioner. [See comments for more on this.]
In light of this, I thought we should start compiling our own five-question lists for Harper. It's not easy to do, but if we each take five, we could cover a lot of ground.

I'll kick things off. Please add yours in comments.

Five questions for Stephen Harper:

1. Why do you refuse to answer certain questions during this election campaign?

2. Do you believe Canadians have a right to know the truth about the government they are being asked to elect?

3. Do you believe Canadians have a right to ask the government questions?

4. Many Canadians feel your government and your style of leadership has been un-democratic, even anti-democratic. Without reference to partisanship or the opposition, what is your response to those concerns?

5. Given that, in the past, you have acknowledged the need for and the legitimacy of coalition governments - and given that coalition governments are constitutional and are quite common in other Parliamentary systems - isn't your ongoing campaign against a coalition government deceitful, as your real motive for opposing coalitions is simply to remain in power?


Skinny Dipper said...

Welcome to Harper's "No Question Air."

Anonymous said...

Question 1 and 2:If you where to gain a majority government, what measures would you take on the abortion issue and the gay marriage situation here in Canada?

Question 3: how important is your faith in God to you?

Question 4: Would you say your religious ideologies have clouded your ability to critically decipher policy and represent Canadians as a whole?

Question 5:Can you tell me why you fire or persuade the firing of anyone who disagrees with you such as Marty Cheliak,Linda Keen,Steve Sullivan,Col. Pat Stogran... is it not for ideological reasons that you fire such an abundance of leaders and replace them with your own?

laura k said...

IPSOS says:

he Conservatives say a Liberal-NDP coalition government would be bad for the country, but Canadians wouldn’t have a problem with it.

A new Ipsos Reid poll conducted for Global National and Postmedia News indicates the majority of Canadians would prefer to see a Liberal-NDP coalition government (54 per cent) than a Conservative majority government (46 per cent).

Also, almost half of Canadians (48 per cent) support the idea of a coalition of opposition parties forming the government.

A little more than half (52 per cent) of Canadians oppose the idea.

...If a coalition of all three opposition parties - Liberals, NDP and Bloc - were to be formed, 59 per cent of Canadians would like to see NDP leader Jack Layton lead it. Just 27 per cent would like to see Ignatieff do so, and 14 per cent would choose Bloc leader Gilles Duceppe for the job.

Via David H - thanks!

allan said...

Yesterday's print edition of the Toronto Star had the 5 Question Limit as the lead story:

Harper Limits Questions To Five

Tenions rise as Conservative leader imposes daily cap on queries from reporters at campaign events

In the initial paragraphs, Harper is described as "an over-controlling politician",
"controlling and restrictive", and "facing questions about his questions ... refusing to answer". It also mentioned reporters being kept behind a fence.

That story has been removed from the Star's website. (Dr. Dawg has a link to the original.)

Now why would the Star yank its lead story from its website? I wonder if they will offer an explanation.

Even the Sun disapproves of Harper's plan:

"We bet you weren't too happy when that clip aired on TV — where, with a scowl, you snapped at a highly-respected national reporter who dared ask you why such restrictions are imposed.
To be blunt, you came across looking like an arrogant micro-manager with the warmth of a robot and with absolutely no regard whatsoever for the media, either personally or professionally."

allan said...

This blog has also posted the now-unavailable story, and notes that the Globe & Mail -- Canada's national paper -- has so far ignored this issue.

allan said...

The Star's David Olive blogs about how Harper challenged Ignatieff to a one-on-one debate and Ignatieff immediately agreed ("any time, any place"), and how Harper, just as fast, chickened out and lied about it, trying to rewrite a history that was only a few hours old (and with both men's comments on Twitter for the world to see).

For someone who is supposedly within grasp of a majority, Harper is floundering around like a fish out of water, thrashing about because he knows the end is near.

M@ said...

[Harper] came across looking like an arrogant micro-manager with the warmth of a robot and with absolutely no regard whatsoever for the media, either personally or professionally.

How surprising! Because he's been such a personable, open friend of the media throughout his career as PM.

Btw, this might just be the media (finally) hitting back for the way they've been treated by this government. Not that they aren't culpable themselves -- they don't have to accept pile the government shovels their way -- but I think he's out of their good graces.

My question for Harper: Would you accept the prorogation of parliament by a Michael Ignatieff government to avoid a confidence vote?

DavidHeap said...

1. Since a coalition government is good enough for the U.K., as well as for most European democracies, why do you continue to sow fear and misinformation about the concept in Canada?
2. Why should Canadians believe what you say about coalitions now, since you were in favour of forming one when you were in the opposition?
3. You have said that your party backs Israel "whatever the cost". Why should Canadians vote for a party whose allegiance to a foreign state is greater than their allegiance to the interests of Canada?
4. Women form more than half the electorate, and with your government's vicious record of un-funding women's groups and services, why should they support you?
5. Why should anyone believe any of your electoral promises, when you can just instruct your ministers to insert "not" into them at any time?

DavidHeap said...

Supplementary question: The Greek Catholic Archbishop of Jerusalem (89 year old Hilarion Capucci) was supposed to visit Canada this month but recently (this week) denied a visa by your government. Why? Will you apologize to the Vatican, Greek Catholics and the various (Middle Eastern and other communities) who were planning on this visit?

johngoldfine said...

Everything I know about Canadian politics I learn here, laura k--that five-question stuff and the fences and so on is very Bush IIian. Bush, of course, had plenty of reasons to fear unscripted intercourse (not only his lack of glibness but his inability to control that fat-boy smirk and then there was the matter of his actual policies, which were, let's say, hard to characterize in a positive way.)

Harper, from what I have read here over the years, is also a nasty piece of work, though, obviously, has much less scope to spread the nastiness than the Leader of the Free World.

laura k said...

Everything I know about Canadian politics I learn here

A wise policy that more Canadians should follow. :)

Harper, from what I have read here over the years, is also a nasty piece of work, though, obviously, has much less scope to spread the nastiness than the Leader of the Free World.


Paul Tomblin said...

1. Will you really only answer 5 questions a day?
2. Really?
3. Just 5 and that's it?
4. No matter what happens that day?
5. Every day?