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VIEW: Five questions the media must ask of PM Harper

[Editor's note: This is an unsolicited op-ed from Saskatchewan professor Paul Orlowski. The Tyee clearly marks all opinion articles that appear on The Hook with the tag VIEW.]

Mr. Harper, you have been my prime minister for seven and a half years now. Over that time I have wanted to ask you many questions. At the least, I have wanted journalists to ask you these questions. I have come to learn, however, that it is not a simple matter for journalists to ask you any questions of import.

You rarely hold news conferences, Mr. Harper, and when you do, you are adamant that the entire group of journalists will ask a maximum of five questions. This surprises me on two counts: first, I cannot recall any leader, Canadian or American, who has paid such little regard for taking questions from the media, and by extension, citizens; and second, it is we Canadian citizens who pay your wages.

I assume you are a busy fellow. Besides all of the demands required of a prime minister, you have repeatedly told us that you are writing a book on the history of hockey. (I am an avid hockey fan and played the game for almost 40 years, so as surprised as I am that you have decided to write on such a topic, I am looking forward to reading what you have to say about it.)

So I am cutting you some slack on why it is so difficult to find the time to speak to Canadians about important matters. Some of these matters are related to scandals, but as we have seen with President Barack Obama and the IRS and NSA scandals, sometimes the best approach for a nation's leader is simply to come right out and address these kinds of questions.

I have dozens of questions that I would like you to answer. But for the sake of time, I have chosen what you deem to be an adequate number: five. I apologize for the wordiness, but I feel that some background for each question may be helpful. Here they are.

1. Given that the first state-owned oil and gas company of North America, SaskOil, was sold to private investors by Saskatchewan's Progressive Conservative Government in 1986 (when it became Nexen), does it seem ironic to you that your government recently allowed the sale of Nexen to CNOOC, which is a state-owned company of China?

2. Given that on March 25, 1994 when you were a rookie Reform MP, you made an eloquent speech in defence of democracy by speaking against the federal Liberal government's 21-page omnibus bill, why did your government develop and pass the 425-page omnibus Budget Bill C-38 that, among many other non-budgetary items, gutted the regulations of most Canadian fresh waterways without any open public debate?

3. Given the public uproar over the ubiquitous use of robocalls during the last federal election (in which you won a majority government), why did you subsequently send expensive lawyers to stop the courts from hearing the case brought forth by the Council of Canadians?

4. Given the fact that every student in publicly-funded Canadian schools has been taught to value the knowledge gained from science and the scientific method, why has your government attempted so strenuously to muzzle its scientists?

5. Given the incredible demands that the job we pay you to do has, do you really have the time to write a book about the history of hockey?

Those are my five questions, Mr. Prime Minister. Although not all of them are easy ones for you to answer, you must be pleased that none of them have anything to do with your recent choices for the Canadian Senate, namely, Senators Patrick Brazeau, Mike Duffy and Pamela Wallin, nor the mysterious $90,000 cheque.

Paul Orlowski is a professor of education at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon. Find his blog here.

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