OTTAWA–Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer is pushing back on the suggestion his party is taking a more aggressive approach to reporters and news outlets in the lead up to the 2019 election.
Speaking to reporters at Queen’s Park Tuesday, Scheer said he supports the role of the media in holding politicians from all parties to account.
“I believe that it’s essential in a vibrant democracy that the media plays its role to hold politicians of all parties to account, that does fact-checking, that makes sure you hold our feet to the fire and hold us responsible for what we say,” Scheer said after a meeting with Premier Doug Ford.
It was a more conciliatory tone than Scheer has taken in recent weeks on matters of the fourth estate. In a speech to supporters in Ottawa earlier this month, Scheer suggested “the media” was taking Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s side on the debate around the carbon tax – expected to be a key issue in the 2019 campaign.
Scheer also suggested news outlets covered him and the Conservatives differently than Trudeau’s Liberals – something he said in 2017 was natural, given that the prime minister and government always gets more attention than opposition parties.
On Friday, the Star reported the Conservatives appeared to be gearing up for a fight with media outlets in the 2019 campaign – not only due to Scheer’s comments, but Conservative MPs and senators publicly accusing individual reporters of Liberal bias.
On Monday, the CBC reported that Scheer’s director of issues management and media relations, Jacqui Delaney, had left his office and returned to working for Senator Leo Housakos – who has on occasion provided his own brand of media criticism on Twitter. Delaney, a former anchor on the Sun News Network and longtime political staffer, told the CBC her departure was due to health reasons.
Brock Harrison, Scheer’s director of communications, told the Star last week that the party will not shy away from correcting information they feel to be inaccurate in media reports.
Scheer reiterated that Tuesday, but added that he “respected the role the media plays” in holding politicians to account.
“Where I feel that parts of the story were missed, or parts of where the Conservative position needs to be highlighted, I’ll also make sure that that side gets out as well,” Scheer said.
With a file from Robert Benzie