Political TV viewing habits
PM: I don’t know. Maybe it’s the perfectionist in me. Also, I find it like an out-of-body experience. It’s like watching somebody imitating me. It makes me very uncomfortable. Maybe it’s the shy side of my personality or something. But I don’t watch any Canadian news—I don’t want to see myself on television.
Well, this aversion to Canadian-TV-news watching has prompted reporters here to ask about the viewing habits of other members of Harper's cabinet and leading Ottawa politicians. My colleague, Tonda MacCharles, has a story in today's paper, but here's a rundown of the raw Q and A, as it rolled out in the scrums yesterday.
Here's Industry Minister Tony Clement, who finds Harper's claim a bit of a stretch:
Question: He says he watches American politics and American news. He doesn't watch Canadian news and it's not the first time he's said it.
Hon. Tony Clement: I don't believe you. I don't believe you.
Question: You don't believe me.
Hon. Tony Clement: No. I think - I think he watches -
Question: Okay, do you believe the Prime Minister?
Hon. Tony Clement: I think he watches Canadian news, he reads Canadian news, he watches American news, he reads American news. He probably watches European news. We all do that.
Question: So what, he's lying or he's joking?
Hon. Tony Clement: We're new junkies, all of us are. Come on. You know what we're all about.
Former TV news anchor Peter Kent, now a Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, also seems to find it a bit hard to believe -- that Harper avoids ALL news on Canadian TV.
Hon. Peter Kent: I watch news from all sorts of sources. I watch the BBC. I watch some news from Latin America.
Question: But you watch Canadian -
Hon. Peter Kent: Absolutely.
Question: Should the Prime Minister watch Canadian political news?
Hon. Peter Kent: He doesn't watch news about himself.
Question: Do you think he watches any Canadian news?
Hon. Peter Kent: Absolutely.
Question: You know that.
Hon. Peter Kent: Well, I've never sat with him but I assume that he -
Question: Is that why he brought you in, he liked you on TV?
Hon. Peter Kent: That's not a bad question but I don't think that had anything to do with it. But thank you.
And then there's Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, who confesses that he, like his boss, doesn't like to see himself on TV.
Question: Do you watch Canadian news, sir?
Hon. Jason Kenney: Occasionally.
Hon. Jason Kenney: Not every day.
Question: No, do you watch Canadian political news, sir?
Hon. Jason Kenney: Every now and then I'll catch one of these shows they do in the lobby here but not habitually, no, I don't.
Question: Basically when you're on?
Question: Yeah, do you check out your own performance?
Hon. Jason Kenney: No, I hate to see myself on TV.
Question: Do you think the Prime Minister should watch Canadian (inaudible)?
Hon. Jason Kenney: No, I think that would be - I understand - I think the Prime Minister is too busy to sit there being vainglorious and watching himself on TV. So I think he should be doing the people's business rather than -
Question: Does he watch any Canadian news?
Hon. Jason Kenney: It's up to him. Look, I'm glad to hear if the Prime Minister isn't sitting there glued to the TV it means he's doing his job. That's a good thing. Thanks, guys.
And finally, we have Bob Rae, who says that politicians have a duty to watch the news, no matter what effect it has on one's hair. Really. Read on:
Bob Rae: I find that quite shocking.
Bob Rae: Well, because we all have an obligation to know what's going on and to know what other people are reporting and what's taking place. I'm quite astounded that the Prime Minister would be so unaware of what's - of the world around him.
Question: In your darker days of being Ontario Premier did you watch Canadian -
Bob Rae: I'm afraid I watched it always and I also read the newspapers.
Question: And do you still?
Bob Rae: Well, look at the colour of my hair. Of course I still read it.