Justin Trudeau was so gracious as to bestow a few hours of his time to Calgarians on Thursday. The prime minister was in town for a very quick campaign stop where he was cheerleading former Calgary city councillor George Chahal, the Liberal candidate in the Calgary Skyview riding.
The event was not publicized, and all but a few select invitees and media outlets were left guessing at where Trudeau might visit. Along with my intrepid videographer Kian “K2” Simone, I sleuthed my way to the location after crisscrossing the riding for hours. Just as we were going to give up our search, we saw Trudeau’s “Trudeau 2021” campaign airplane coming in for a landing overhead, and we knew we were on the right track.
When we finally discovered the event, we proceeded unfettered to the media area, but when it was time to enter the fenced off area where the event was set to take place, a member of Trudeau’s security detail singled us out and attempted to remove us from the property.
Committed to the task of covering the election, I asked who I could speak to about access to events moving forward, to ensure this does not happen again.
I was directed to approach a nearby event organizer named Adam, who was surprisingly sympathetic to our journalistic plight. He spoke to another campaign tour coordinator named Marie, who came and apologized for not letting us in and insisted that she would ask her boss about ensuring we have access at future events. She explained that the event was already at capacity so no one else could enter the main area, but insisted that we were welcome to remain on the property and in a position that allowed us an unobstructed view of the event. She was even kind enough to accompany us to a location where she thought we might get a good shot.
It is no secret that the Trudeau campaign has hardly been welcoming to independent media outlets, clearly favouring their bought and paid for, grant-receiving media friends, so it remains to be seen if they will afford us access moving forward.
Trudeau gave a speech that featured his typical 2021 talking points; foremost among them on this day were spending, Jason Kenney and vaccine coercion.
Unsurprisingly, Trudeau had no time for questions following the event, though he did have time to mingle with the approved attendees who were standing in cohorts inside of chalk circles on the ground (yes, really). We were also treated to a Liberal supporter attempting to interfere with our filming efforts. With one final flurry of excitement as Trudeau exited, the event was over as soon as it began.
The response we received from campaign staff was certainly more cordial than our prior welcomes at Trudeau events, but it remains apparent that Rebel News and other independent journalists are being unfairly excluded from covering the election.
That doesn’t mean that we are going to stop — in fact, we are more committed than ever to providing real journalism that is not influenced by government funding.
Journalists shouldn’t have to face so much difficulty to ask a politician a simple question, but that is the sad reality of today’s political landscape.
We won’t back down from covering this election, no matter how hard they try to make it, but we need your support to be able to tell the other side of the election story.
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