OTTAWA, May 4, 2013 /CNW/ - The Resort Municipality of Whistler is the
winner of the annual Canadian Association of Journalists' Code of
The winner of this prestigious (sic) award, presented to the most
secretive government or publicly funded agency, was announced Saturday
night at the annual CAJ conference banquet and awards gala, held at the
Westin Hotel in Ottawa. A panel of reviewers was swayed by two powerful
submissions by local journalists in Whistler that tipped the scales.
Since the Vancouver Olympics, the municipality's communications have
been dammed up to the point even a trickle rarely escapes, even when
media are actively poking holes to get behind the dam. Per municipal
policy, the only spokespeople are the municipality's mayor, CAO and
public information officer. Experts at passing the buck, the control
over information exercised in Whistler rivals that of certain federal
departments and PR at the most secretive private corporations.
Here's what Andrew Mitchell had to say about the scenario:
"The mayor (Nancy Wilhelm-Morden)… is often not fluent in the topics she
is asked to discuss so details are often limited. She is ostensibly
where the buck stops, but can't reasonably be expected to provide
expert details on specific areas like solid waste management or our
That a municipality, which is supposed to be Canadians' most-accessible
level of government, would use these message-control tactics to spin,
obfuscate and defer its responsibility to be open, transparent and
accountable flies in the face of what its ratepayers expect and
"Voters in Whistler, take note— your media are being kept from telling
you what's happening with your dollars due to these policies," CAJ
president Hugo Rodrigues said. "If you care about what Whistler is
doing with your hard-earned dollars, it's time to effect change at the
ballot box so these practices get changed."
Other worthy nominations for this year's award included Library and
Archives Canada for its code of conduct that keeps staff members from
speaking at conventions; government scientists, muzzled by their
political masters; the Municipality of Central Huron for discussing a
journalists' work and her potential exclusion from council meetings
behind closed doors; Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada for
access-to-information delays; Humber River Hospital for keeping an
internal report on the mis-diagnosed death of a newborn baby girl
secret; Fisheries and Oceans Canada for deferring and delaying on an
answer to a simple Chinook salmon question; Canada Revenue Agency for
delaying and then redacting an access request on sanctions against the
Toronto International Film Festival; and, Enterprise Cape Breton Corp.
for its obfuscation surrounding the rebuild of the Ben Eoin Marina.
This is the 13th year the CAJ has so honoured a government or publicly funded agency for
keeping secret what it should make accessible.
The CAJ is Canada's largest national professional organization for
journalists from all media, representing over 500 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 - 519-535-8680 cell, firstname.lastname@example.org
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