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Throne speech a poor partisan photo-op
The throne speech is one of the many throwbacks to our constitutional monarchy, no doubt originally conceived to remind Canadians of the parliamentary agenda.
And while it may have made a good deal of sense in the pre-Internet days when the nation needed a refresher on the goings-on in Ottawa, it’s utterly and absurdly superfluous in the 24-hour-news cycle that is 2013.
If it were merely a laundry list of things the cabinet members hope to accomplish between now and next year–which it isn’t–that could be understood.
But the throne speech has devolved into what just about every Harper government public relations activity has become: a carefully controlled, contrived and condescending photo opportunity.
Make no mistake. This isn’t about sharing the hopes and dreams of a nation embarking on a new session of parliament. It’s a chance for Stephen Harper to get photographs with his cabinet, talk about how much the stimulus spending helped us escape the recession, and advertise the Conservative Party.
The level of contempt with which the media is treated in this whole circus situated on parliament hill was best exemplified on Wednesday when the prime minister’s office decreed that a single “press pool” photographer was to be allowed inside the halls of power during the throne speech.
Camera crews were to be permitted, but pesky reporters were not. After all, they might ask questions about European trade pacts, or other off-topic journalistic type stuff.
The throne speech is about taking pot shots at the expense of the NDP and the Liberals, not the government defending its record from public scrutiny. Fear not, however, that record will be provided complete with pre-screened quotes from a strategic communications director.
You may retweet meaningless platitudes as well, such as the one the PMO posted on Twitter: “Despite our accomplishments, we will not rest here. We must go further and we must go faster.”
When reporters are banned from reporting to the people, where else can one turn but Twitter? There you can learn that the government supports the troops, scrapped the long-gun registry, and fixed the economy.
What you won’t hear from the PMO Twitter account, however, is that the former Reformer who once campaigned on a triple-E Senate has presided over the largest expense scandal in the history of the red chamber.
This government has twice prorogued on the people when parliamentary questions became inconvenient to its message.
Perhaps it’s time we prorogue on the throne speech, ignore its public relations massaging and photo ops, and cover real news.