Justin Trudeau’s Leaders’ Debates Commission has ruled against allowing Keean Bexte and The Counter Signal from attending and reporting on the English and French debates.
David Johnston, the former Governor General of Canada and Trudeau’s handpicked commissioner wrote to The Counter Signal explicitly denying the accreditation of Keean Bexte.
“I have reviewed and considered your application dated August 16, 2021. As further described below, I have determined that your request for media accreditation should be denied,” he wrote.
The letter goes on to describe the mandate of the commission, and how Justin Trudeau’s cabinet ordered its creation to promote “high journalistic standards.”
“Under the Order in Council, the overarching objective behind this media accreditation process is to ensure “high journalistic standards,” the decision read.
“In denying the applicant’s accreditation, I have considered that the impacts on the applicant’s freedom of expression are outweighed by the salutary effects of the Commission carrying outs its mandate. I recognize that the applicant will be precluded from asking direct questions to the leaders who participate in the debates.”
“In particular, the Commission has interpreted high journalistic standards to mean that journalists should not have a conflict of interest in the story that they are covering.”
Speaking of conflicts of interest, it seems that only some matter to the Commissioner. After all, Johnston tapped Rosemary Barton to moderate the English debate despite her suing the Conservative Party during the last election.
Keean Bexte reported live from the English and French debates during the 43rd General Election and asked more questions of more Party leaders than any other journalist in attendance. The coverage was well received by the public and was unarguably professional.
By denying Keean Bexte and The Counter Signal from asking questions at the debates, it doesn’t just impact the freedom of expression of this outlet – more importantly, it impacts each and every one of our readers, who will now be left with second grade and compromised journalistic coverage of the debates.