English media crash Premier Clark’s Asian presser
Politicians at all levels are increasingly hosting “ethnic media” press conferences at the exclusion of their mainstream-media counterparts. Premier Christy Clark is seen here at an event held for Asian media, Jan. 23, 2014. (JEREMY NUTTALL/ 24 HOURS)
English-language reporters crashed an “ethnic media roundtable” hosted by Premier Christy Clark in Vancouver Thursday in the latest chapter of exclusionary press conferences held by politicians.
While news of the event was not openly released, the mainstream press found out about it through social media then rallied via Twitter — an effort spearheaded by 24 hours — to attend the press conference en masse.
About 10 English-language media outlets arrived at Clark’s Canada Place office and were allowed in. They were asked to hold off asking questions until Chinese- and Korean-language journalists finished theirs as the event was meant as part of the upcoming Lunar New Year.
After arriving 20 minutes late for the afternoon conference, Clark spoke about transit, LNG and trade deals with Asia.
One question was asked about the school curriculum including more information on past injustices to the Chinese community, while another asked her opinion on the English media being irked about not being invited to the conference.
“They’re all here and they all look super happy,” Clark joked.
Ben Chin, the premier’s communications director, said the event was limited to the ethnic media because they don’t always get to ask questions during other availabilities. In addition, language barriers can cause questions to take longer to be asked and answered. “I find it a little bit odd and a little bit strange that there’s this kind of huffiness around that,” he said.
He answered questions about the optics of segregation by saying ethnic media is invited to all of Clark’s press conferences.
“They’re also invited to come to any other media availability.”
When 24 hours — which has Chinese-speaking reporters — asked to be added to the invite for future ethnic media events, Clark’s press secretary Sam Oliphant seemed to indicate in an email that wasn’t going to happen.
“There are lots of opportunities for you to take part in availabilities with the premier, but today's event is private,” Oliphant wrote.
Last week, a leaked tape of a similar, secretive, press conference with Prime Minister Stephen Harper in Vancouver revealed he showed a different side to ethnic media and included a strong critique of the Temporary Foreign Workers Program, on which he had previously been silent.