A fake news release appeared on the Conservative Party of Canada’s website early today saying that Prime Minister Stephen Harper had been taken to hospital after choking on a hash brown.
The news release, Conservative Party communications head Dimitri Soudas told CBC News, was a prank by hackers and the site has since been fixed.
More than just a prank, however, the deliberate misuse of the government’s official channel makes a mockery of Harper’s tight grip on his presentation.
The Prime Minister, for instance, limits his daily press encounters to just five questions. When pressed by journalists on the reasons, he simply ignored those questions. Controlling photo-ops and seeking background info on those who attended his campaign events, he has been limiting his public exposure. Far from Athenian democracy, where assembly attendees could freely ask questions of their leaders, Harper’s government ensures that it is prepared for engagements with the public and with journalists.
Jeffrey Edward Green, in “The Eyes of the People” writes that candor – frank, open, unpremeditated discussion of pressing issues – is missing from modern politics. He argues that when the public is not permitted information known to the political elites, they do not have the information necessary to perform their civic duties.
As the government surveillance of its own citizens increases, why are we not permitted greater transparency into the actions and motivations of government?