Volume 95, Issue 30
Thursday, October 25, 2001
Tories shut out student media
PCs have 'security concerns'
By Erin Conway-Smith
Members of the student media have been denied access to this weekend's Tory policy convention in London due, in part, to security concerns.
Rui Brum, spokesman for Ontario Premier Mike Harris, said student media outlets, including The Gazette, will not be granted the necessary media accreditation for entry into the provincial Progressive Conservative convention, taking place Oct. 26-28 in the Forest City.
The decision to deny access to student media outlets was made, in part, to ensure full access for all Queen's Park correspondents and "mainstream" media representatives, he said.
The upcoming convention has also been deemed a high security risk, Brum explained, adding the Tory party has been forced to be very selective about who will gain admittance.
"We have to be very, very careful who we give accreditation to," he said.
Officials from the provincial Liberal and New Democratic parties said student media are allowed to attend their conventions.
"In the past, student media have certainly been welcome at Liberal party events and I expect that will continue," said Tracy Sobers, press secretary for provincial Liberal leader Dalton McGuinty.
Sheila White, communications director for the provincial New Democratic Party, said the NDP has no restrictions on who can attend their conventions.
"We welcome all media, in particular young media [to NDP conventions]."
Rick Telfer, Ontario national executive representative for the Canadian Federation of Students, said he was "shocked" the PC party was shutting out student media .
"What policies will they be discussing what are they hiding from the student population?," he said.
Members Western's PC club will attend the convention as participants, funded in part by grant money from the University Students' Council.
Rohan Belliappa, president of the UWO PC Club, said the USC provided a grant of $750 to subsidize expenses for approximately 20 club members who will attend the convention.
The grant will help cover a $99 participant fee for each member attending, Belliappa said.
"Our members will be there for every single event on the agenda," he said, adding the UWO PC Club will also be hosting a pub night for visiting dignitaries and hopes to showcase Western throughout the convention.
"We want our members to see the inner-workings of government what goes on behind the headlines of newspapers," he said.
USC VP-finance Rob Irvine said the USC often helps fund such initiatives. The finance committee reserves $18,000 of their budget to give to clubs that apply for additional funding, he said.
with files from Chris Lackner
Copyright © The Gazette 2001