Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Liberals Must Remain Open When Times Get Tougher

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Liberals Must Remain Open When Times Get Tougher

Article excerpt

Editorial Exchange: Liberals must remain open when times get tougher

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An editorial from the Toronto Star, published Nov. 16:

What's this? A prime minister who doesn't appear to hate the news media? Who actually seems to value the work that political journalists do? And who instructs the people who work for him to do the same?

Of all the welcome changes introduced by Justin Trudeau and his new Liberal government, this one is near the top of the list. After the secrecy, manipulation and paranoia of the Harper years, it's a head-snapping switch in direction that speaks volumes about how the Liberals intend to conduct themselves in office.

This isn't just self-interest on the part of the media, which naturally want the politicians to treat them with respect and let them do their jobs. Ordinary citizens don't have day to day access to the people who run our government, so journalists act as their eyes and ears and help to keep the powerful people in check.

Here's how Trudeau himself puts it in the "mandate letters" he gave to his new cabinet ministers, as reported on Friday in the Star by Susan Delacourt. He tells ministers they will be judged by how they treat a range of people, including business, labour, the opposition and even the news media:

"Members of the Parliamentary Press Gallery, indeed all journalists in Canada and abroad, are professionals who, by asking necessary questions, contribute in an important way to the democratic process. Your professionalism and engagement with them is essential."

As Delacourt pointed out, this is an elaboration on what the prime minister told some Liberal supporters in Montreal who booed reporters near the end of the election campaign. "Hey!" he said sharply. "We have respect for journalists in this country. They ask tough questions and they're supposed to. OK?"

A professor of journalism couldn't have put it better. …

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