We're not accountable to media — A-G
by Peter von Stackelberg
Attorney-General Roy Romanow blasted the news media April 11 for
what he called a lack of courtesy and respect for parliamentary
tradition after CKCK-TV reporter Wayne Mantyka showed up
at a meeting of the Crown corporations review committee with a camera
Mantyka and the crew recorded and broadcast segments of the committee's
discussion of whether the camera should be permitted to record the
When the camera crew appeared again the following day, it was ordered
out by the chairman.
Mantyka said he knew of no rule banning the use of cameras and
tape-recorders in the committee room. The committee chairman confirmed
that there are no rules—written or otherwise—that ban cameras from
committee meetings, but his ruling on the second day of the camera's
appearance changed that.
The fuss raised over the issue by the media and the Opposition
was clearly an embarrassment for the NDP government, which claims
it runs the most open government in Canada.
In a speech in the legislature, Romanow said the actions of the
media, and of the CKCK-TV news team in particular, threatened
"The way this matter has been handled, by the intrusion of the
cameras without the express approval by the rules, attacks the fundamental
basis of the democratic system."
"As big as the issue of television is, there is the issue of how,
and who and when the access of television is decided. And surely
to goodness it is not CKCK-TVs decision. It is up to the
elected members of this house."
Romanow went on to say that members of the legislature are accountable
only to the public and that the news media are not among those whom
elected representatives should have to answer to.
"When they talk about accountability, when they say that it is
the public's right to know. I want to know what public."
"I go every four years to my public and I get criticized by my
opposition and I get elected."
"That's the public's right to know, to scrutinize, and not by some
employee of a television station or newspaper."
Romanow and numerous NDP members argued that any changes that would
permit television cameras in the
legislature and its committees should go through the rules and procedures
Published in SOURCES May-June 1980
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