Apparently, the finance minister is going to have an off the record meeting with an invite-only list of experts from academia and the world of finance to solicit policy advice, as the never-ending process of preparing the next federal budget continues.
To some, this whole getting advice from experts about policy before making policy seems like a pretty sensible idea. But not, of course, to the powers that be at Sun Media. Were it a Liberal finance minister, they’d point-out this ivory-tower egghead exercise was a sign of how out of touch with real Canadians they are. Alas, it’s a Conservative finance minister, so that just won’t do.
Instead, David Akin finds another angle to take, pondering why fellow journalist Andrew Coyne, who does have some knowledge of these issues (and has been a vocal critic of Jim Flaherty’s economic policy) is participating in the confab. He even brings in a journalism ethics expert (no, really) to weigh-in on the propriety of Andrew’s actions:
Still, journalism ethics experts said Coyne’s decision to participate in an event set up to offer policy advice to the government is unwise.
“It runs against the public’s perception of the independence of its senior journalists,” said Stephen Ward, the director of the Center for Journalism Ethics at the University of Wisconsin. “In an age when the line between independent journalism and non-independent journalism is being blurred, and public confidence in news media wanes, we really don’t need journalists joining the elites in a closed policy session, rather than covering the meeting independently.”
Hmm, interesting. One has to wonder what the good professor would have to say about a journalist taking part in a session organized by a “think-tank” with close ties to the governing political party to train campaign managers (primarily for the governing political party) on how to deal with the media? (h/t)
Of course, there is one significant difference between the two events.
One involves people with knowledge to share sharing it freely for no other reason or motivation than hoping better policy could be made for the betterment of the nation(s).
The other involves a panel of Conservatives (and David Akin — .ed) training Conservative political operatives on how to get their candidates elected and defeat their opponents to an audience that paid for the privilege. And it’s safe to assume Akin and co. were compensated for their time and valuable advice as well.
Yes, lets run that one past the ethics professor, shall we?
P.S. Interesting that also on the panel was David’s boss to be, Kory Teneycke. Small world, no?
UPDATE: Akin offers his view on all this, which we don’t find particularly compelling. At best, it’s serious pot and kettle. Good on him for not shirking from the issue though.