CFN – Tom Manley, pictured with Stephane Dion & David Jones from right to left above, reports from Day 2 of the big Liberal AGM in Montreal.
On media access:
I remember reading that media access was really difficult at the recent Conservative convention last year. Therefore, I asked the question to Terry Milewski, Senior Correspondent at the CBC Parliamentary Bureau. “Is there a difference for media access between the Conservative and Liberal conventions?”
Terry opened by explaining that the governing party, federal or provincial, and in any other jurisdiction, is always more restrictive to media and guarded in what they say. After all, they are the governing party; they are the target of attention; they have the power to act on what they say, and people will more readily hold them to account.
On the other hand, parties in opposition are more open to chat, are in more need of media coverage; and speak more freely without being held to account.
That being said, he observed, the media has greater access to the Liberal Convention floor and rooms, compared to the recent Conservative convention where there were more areas cordoned off. For example, at the Liberal Convention, he did not have to ask for a chair, he just went over and grabbed one. Nevertheless, there is not complete access at the Liberal Convention. Some rooms and workshops are still off limits to the media.
Terry highlighted that this issue is not one of media treatment for the sake of the media. Who cares about the media? The question is more about the target audience of the purpose being served. Is the Party in question being well served by controlling media access and hence public access to its people and activities?
According to a senior volunteer Liberal director, the media has free access to the hallways, the crowds, the plenary sessions, learning sessions, and policy workshops. However the media and observers from other parties are restricted from the “green” and “blue” workshops covering campaign strategies, campaign training, organizing, branding, party governance. These are considered internal party affairs of a partisan competitive nature and should remain internal.