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Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Canada's Touchy Turtle 


It doesn't take very long in public life for a politician's "brand" to be established, however unfair it may be.
A few incidents and stories, and soon both reporters and the general public have created a shorthand description which gives us a quick way to frame the latest move.
Martin was a ditherer, Chretien was the little guy, Mulroney was a braggart, Joe Clark was well-meaning but clumsy, Trudeau was clever but mean, and so on back.
Harper is rapidly getting branded as a petulant paranoid -- Canada's Touchy Turtle.
Our story so far: on Tuesday, some press gallery reporters apparently exited a Harper news conference because he wasn't going to answer any of their questions.
Now Harper has had a further "L'Etat-C'est-Moi" Moment and decided that he just won't talk to national reporters anymore; instead he will talk to what the CP reporter writing the story described as "less hostile local media".
Does Harper really think that the people who work for the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix and CKOM Radio are just a bunch of ignorant rubes who couldn't possibly come up with any difficult or embarassing questions for the Prime Minister like "Do you have any idea what you are doing?"
The Toronto Star says that Harper's relationship with the media "began deteriorating just weeks after the prime minister took office" and now it is "so poor that his spokespeople have asked registered lobbyists to act as intermediaries in dealing with reporters."
This is pretty strange, isn't it?

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