The CPC 2013 convention this weekend in Calgary was nothing short of a fantastic experience. For those that believe an individual can have no effect on politics/government, you obviously have never been in a room with a thousand other people of diverse backgrounds from across the country discussing policy and setting the future course of a political party before. It is grassroots at it's finest and if you ever get the chance, I would highly recommend it. I am not going to get into the policy stuff today, (you can see those for yourself on the CPC website when it gets posted or check out Kady O'Malley's coverage here if interested) but rather I am going to discuss a favorite subject of mine, the media, and their ever continuing narrative of being locked out by the CPC.
For those that are buying into the media complaints of being locked out or as some have put it, the CPC "holding its conventions in Stalag Luft 17" ask yourself a couple of questions:
Q: What happened at the convention that was not covered by the media and you did not find out about?
To my knowledge, aside from the workshops which should be kept media free IMHO, the convention was was well covered by the numerous press in attendance. The meat and potatoes of any convention is policy and the final plenary sessions were extremely well covered. Look no farther than Josh Wingrove's twitter feed from the weekend or as linked to above, Kady O'Malley. And we all know the amount of coverage the PM's speech received, including the stories written on it before he had even delivered it. The fact that you know what happened at the convention is proof in itself the the media were not really locked out.
Q: Can you provide me with the name of any member of the media who could not obtain a delegate quote?
I doubt you can because the truth of the matter is that the media could and often did talk with delegates. The media was everywhere in Calgary. They were at the the only entrance to the BMO, occasionally in the foyer, always available in the hallway towards the north east end of the building, inside the hospitality suits (drunken delegates do make good sources for dirt), in Hall D at plenary, and even in my hotel elevator ( I had more CPAC people in the elevator with me at one point on Saturday than they had in Ottawa) I myself was asked for comment by the media about 15 times over the course of the weekend, which may be higher than average due to my habit of wandering around more than most, but I don't know of any who were not approached or if they did want to offer their opinion to media, were ever unable to do so.
I wrote earlier that the workshops should be kept media free and I do believe that to be for the best. Having media in the room is not only a distraction, it makes some people very nervous knowing that what they may say on a particular policy etc may end up on the nightly news. This is really not very conducive to discussions where you want everyone to be able to voice their ideas and opinions openly and freely, which is what conventions are really all about. Delegates were NOT there for the media and really should not be bothered by them while they are trying to do their work.
While I do see the media's point that they would like more access; of course they would as it makes their job much easier and who wouldn't want that, and I am sure they would like to sit in the PMO for meetings too but that is not very realistic. Could you imagine the chaos if the close to 300 accredited media from 60 outlets had free rein in the BMO Centre during the entire run of the convention? It would be an absolute zoo, where you could in theory have had more media in a workshop than there were delegates in the room.
Could more have been done for access? I am sure there could have been but to compare the convention to a Nazi POW camp or say that it was the way they do it in unsavory countries is not only wrong, it is just plain silly and makes them look like whiners.
Just to show that I am not all about bashing the media, I will offer up a couple of shout outs and stories from CPC13. A shout out to Stephen Taylor ( is he media?) who I finally had the pleasure to meet in person and who gave a social media presentation at the Manning Centre. He is sort of responsible for unleashing this blog upon the world and I am grateful for the opportunity. To the reporters that I had long talks with at the convention and in the hospitality suites, thank you all. I know we are opposite sides on the blog and on Twitter at times, but it was a pleasure meeting and speaking with you in person. I would get into more details on the hospitality suite conversations but drunken conversations between blogger/delegate and media are kept strictly off the record, including which of us were drunk! ;-) And for that story I promised, although this may get me into trouble with the readership, I actually praised the CBC's Kady O'Malley while speaking with the Minister who was responsible for the CBC up until this past July, James Moore, much to the chagrin of bystanders. True story and she does deserve the praise for the job she does and how open she is, although somewhere in Calgary someone may be still missing a coat.