Harper government wins CAJ's Code of Silence Award, again, for country's most secretive government

TORONTO, April 28, 2012 /CNW/ - One name kept being repeated in the weeks prior to today as the Canadian Association of Journalists kept asking its members for nominees for its annual Code of Silence Award recognizing Canada's most secretive government or publicly funded agency.

Harper.

From keeping information out of public hands on files such as the F-35 program, to avoiding the opportunity to be asked too many questions at media events to the lockdown on media and public access to contentious information, the Stephen Harper government was consistently named, again and again for this prestigious prize.

"This was the overwhelming choice - while we received a few other worthy nominations, no single one outnumbered the Harper government in volume or depth," CAJ president Hugo Rodrigues said in presenting the award at the 2012 convention. "The death grip on information has long frustrated journalists in this country, but it may now be reaching a point where the public at large is not only empathetic, but shares it."

His government departments now deal with media almost exclusively by email, often returning with unhelpful or useless responses containing little to none of the information actually requested.

Got a political hot-potato? Sorry, but in the Harper government, that request gets routed through the Privy Council Office (PCO) or even the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) before your "response" is returned. The lockdown on information is so extensive its reach goes well beyond Parliament Hill and official Ottawa and affects any journalist asking questions about public information in every region of this country.

The CAJ is Canada's largest national professional organization for journalists from all media, representing about 600 members across the country. The CAJ's primary roles are to provide high-quality professional development for its members and public-interest advocacy.

SOURCE Canadian Association of Journalists

For further information:

Hugo Rodrigues, CAJ president - 519-756-2020 ext. 2226, 519-535-8680 cell, hugo@caj.ca

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