The Canadian Press reports this morning that Doug Ford's campaign to be the premier of Ontario will not include a bus for the media:
Ontario's newly minted Progressive Conservative leader will not bring journalists with him on the campaign trail this spring, a rare move experts say suggests the Tories are keen to keep the unpredictable populist politician out of the hot seat as he takes on two more seasoned rivals.
Doug Ford's team said Wednesday the former Toronto city councillor will not have a media bus following him as he criss-crosses the province ahead of the June election, an accommodation traditionally offered by Ontario's party leaders to facilitate coverage while they hold multiple daily events in different cities.
This is not a new strategy. It reeks of Stephen Harper's vetting of people who showed up at his campaign rallies. And, of course, it's utterly Trumpian. Ford sees the media as his enemy; and he's going to limit his contact with them. His spokeswoman -- are you surprized? -- is spinning another line:
Spokeswoman Melissa Lantsman said Ford's campaign events will be broadcast online and his itinerary will be released for media interested in covering them in person.
"Most media outlets have shifted to covering events from their office and relying on live feeds. It is in our interest to have as much media coverage as possible and will do everything we can to ensure our events are streamed online to assist in that," she said in an email.
No one should be fooled:
Experts say the decision suggests a campaign strategy that centres on limiting questions and preventing Ford — a brash politician whose candid remarks often make headlines — from publicly going off-script.
And while this approach may prove effective politically, it's concerning for democracy, they say.
"He is attempting to bypass the accountability function of the free press by limiting access to his campaign. This will not prevent coverage, but it alters the degree of access and creates a different, more opaque degree of transparency in the campaign," said Tim Abray, a former journalist and current teaching fellow in political science at Queen's University.
Ford's handlers are well aware of his ignorance. And they are trying to keep it under wraps. Mark Twain wrote,"If you keep your mouth shut, people will only think you're stupid. Open it and you remove all doubt."
The reporters on the bus would remove all doubt.