Despite my promise to provide delayed instant updates from inside the lockup, there is really very little to write about in here.
I am currently holed up in the Conference Centre (the old Ottawa train station) with a few hundred journalists from dozens of different media organizations sitting at long tables in three different rooms.
Team Star, comprised of the entire Ottawa bureau, several business reporters, an editorialist, a few columnists, a web editor, some graphics people and a multimedia guy with a video camera and editing software - about 20 people, give or take a couple - is dominating the smallest of these rooms. There is less sunlight than in the room next door, as our windows are blackened by what looks like garbage bag material, but we are close to the one-person, unisex bathroom and the highly priced snack bar.
We are all flipping through the 360-page budget, discussing with each other what it means and otherwise moving very quickly to have a comprehensive story ready for you to read online when Finance Minister Jim Flaherty begins his speech at 4 p.m.
On the other side of the building there are dozens of officials from the Finance Department lined up to answer our technical questions on deep background. This means we cannot quote them but they can help us find out the current unemployment rate for Toronto, say, or help explain what any given paragraph or table in the budgetary documents mean. There are signs above their heads identifying their areas of expertise (ie. Employment Insurance, home renovations) and journalists can line up in front of the appropriate person for an answer to a question on any given subject.
Beyond that, and that really is quite a bit, there is not much going on here. I could tell you the homemade chickpea salad I brought to avoid the aforementioned highly priced snack bar is tasty, but that is irrelevant and useless information.
Flaherty scrums at 2:15 p.m., so stay tuned.