Dear Editor:

Re: Debate dissent editorial in the July 17th Pioneer.

It has been brewing at the Columbia Valley Pioneer (CVP) for some time, but todays editorial really lays bare the political bias that has crept into your paper.Claiming that reluctance by our Prime Minister to participate in debates is another non-surprise since journalists have essentially been banned from Stephen Harpers events is a personal view, and marks a significant swing away from the traditional high level of objectivity that CVP writers brought to issues in the valley and beyond. Theres a reason that many readers grab your paper instead of The Echo.

I encourage the CVP to return to a more objective perspective instead of writing with bias and insular opinions that many of your readers I suspect find objectionable.

Jamie Fisher


Editors note: Prime Minister Stephen Harpers Office (PMO) has faced widespread criticism for restricting journalists. To list just a few examples: Areport released last year by researchers at Simon Fraser University and the non-profit group Evidence for Democracy assessed the media policies of 16 federal departments and concluded they do not effectively support open communication between federal scientists and the media.

At the International Maternal Health Summit held in Toronto in May, the PMO banned reporters from attending sessions about immunization and nutrition (confirmed by Macleans science reporter Kate Lunau). They were also told they could not attend a speech by Dr. Margaret Chan, director-general of the World Health Organization.

In his new book, Spinning History (2015), veteran Toronto Star political and economics journalist Les Whittington describes how the PMO has limited journalists access and turned the government into a tightly controlled message machine.

Earlier this month, after several reporters in Calgary were denied entry into a photo opportunity with Mr, Harper, parliamentary reporter Justin Ling penned a frank account (picked up by media outlets across the country) of how journalists on Parliament Hill have been complaining for years about the PMOs level of control, lack of information, and lack of access to Canadas top politicians and bureaucrats.

This dates back to 2007, when a University of Alberta Centre for Constitutional Studies paper on the Conservative governments restrictive media policy concluded that: To properly inform the public and hold the government accountable, journalists must know what the government is, or is not doing. Mr. Harper is criticized for his governments lack of open communication with journalists, and for his interference with their constitutionally protected right to report to the public.