Musings —09.25.2014 01:50 PM—
[Posted here early, frankly, because the band is getting together.]
Forget about Justin Trudeau and Ezra Levant. Difficult, we know, but try.
Reflect, instead, on David Akin.
David Akin is a journalist, a real one. Unlike Ezra (or Yours Truly), David is not a purveyor of infotainment. He is a real reporter, one who chases facts, and I would not be surprised if he has actual ink running through his veins.
David has worked as a journalist at the Hamilton Spectator, the National Post, the Globe and Mail, Canwest and CTV News. At CTV, he won a Gemini Award for his work. At the Globe, he was a National Newspaper Award finalist.
David presently works at the Sun News Network, where he covers elections on his Battleground show. I can tell you, without qualification, that he is one of the most respected journalists on Parliament Hill.
And Justin Trudeau won’t talk to him.
Not because Ezra Levant called Trudeau’s parents names on his TV show last week. After Ezra did that, Trudeau announced that he would not be talking to anyone associated with the Sun News Network.
No, Justin Trudeau hadn’t been talking to David Akin for long, long before that. Simply because he was associated with Sun.
I know this because, last Christmas, Sun execs asked me to interview Trudeau on-air. I’d been a Special Assistant to Jean Chretien, I’d run as a Liberal, and I wasn’t Ezra Levant. So I called up Trudeau’s most senior advisor, who I’ve known for years.
The senior advisor laughed. Not a chance, he said. Why, I asked. “Because,” he said, “Ezra Levant put my name on a list of the most dangerous people in Canada.”
I tried to point out that being called “dangerous” by Ezra Levant is the highest compliment a Liberal could receive. I argued that I’d run all the questions by them in advance. To no avail.
No interview, I was told. No access to a (possible) future Prime Minister by the (actual) largest newspaper chain in Canada.
I told David Akin about all this. He shrugged. “Don’t feel bad,” he said. “Trudeau won’t ever talk to me, either.”
Real journalists are never afraid to correct the record. So, let’s do so: Justin Trudeau refusing to talk to anyone associated with Sun News – a diktat that will soon be embraced by every Liberal seeking to curry favour with him, just watch – isn’t news. He’s been refusing to do so for a long time.
Which brings us to this week, when Justin Trudeau formalized his Sun ban.
“We have raised this issue with the appropriate people at Quebecor Inc., the owners and operators of Sun News Network, and have asked that they consider an appropriate response. Until the company resolves the matter, the leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, Justin Trudeau, will continue to not engage with Sun Media,’’ said a Liberal Party spokesperson.
Lots of journalists thereafter jumped into the fray. Their commentary can be summarized thusly: one, Ezra Levant is a “clown” (as one Globe writer put it). Two, even if Ezra is a clown, Justin Trudeau is wrong to stop talking to real journalists like David Akin.
Me? Well, I do infotainment, like Ezra does. But I think that Trudeau had no reason, none, to ignore Sun folks before now. It made him look petulant and thin-skinned.
Now, however, he has all the excuse he needs to ignore us. (Oh, and if someone called my Mom that name? I’d beat them until they had to eat dinner through a straw.)
This one looks bad on everyone: Trudeau, for never speaking to a great reporter like David Akin; and Levant, for making it harder for a guy like David Akin to do his job.
Because – and this isn’t infotainment, folks, it’s fact – if reporters like David Akin can’t do their job, democracy itself suffers.