Hill journalist Mark Bourrie, author of the upcoming book Kill The Messengers: Stephen Harper’s Assault on Your Right to Know, published by HarperCollins, says the Parliament Hill media, as a group, is losing its struggle against a Prime Minister and a government that delegitimize the media’s role in the political system. He’s right. According to the book’s blurb: “Ottawa has become a place where the nation’s business is done in secret, and access to information—the lifeblood of democracy in Canada—is under attack. It’s being lost to an army of lobbyists and public relations flacks who help set the political agenda and decide what you get to know. It’s losing its struggle against a prime minister and a government that delegitimize the media’s role in the political system. The public’s right to know has been undermined by a government that effectively killed Statistics Canada, fired hundreds of scientists and statisticians, gutted Library and Archives Canada and turned freedom of information rules into a joke. Facts, it would seem, are no longer important.” Mr. Bourrie argues that Prime Minister Harper’s clampdown on Hill media access, combined with major media cutbacks over the last 25 years, has facilitated the creation of an “arm’s length sycophantic media,” leading to “staged” news coverage focused on the “the bogus rage and fake indignation of Question Period” and based on government-fed “pap.” Mr. Bourrie recently told The Hill Times’ Mark Burgess in an interview that the federal government doesn’t answer questions anymore, that there’s less money for investigative journalism, and the Hill media have lost every battle they’ve fought, which is destroying democratic institutions, including Parliament. “Reporters aren’t covering politics to pry into other peoples’ business. They’re covering politics to pry into the nation’s business,” Mr. Bourrie said. “We only have one democratic institution that represents all Canadians and that’s the House of Commons. If Canadians don’t know what it does, and if it doesn’t function effectively, then we don’t have a national democracy anymore. It’s as simple as that.” Moreover, he said the Parliamentary Press Gallery has lost every battle it’s fought. “The letters and meetings with Harper’s communications directors haven’t worked. I can’t think of a single instance where the gallery’s diplomacy has succeeded in reversing something that the Harper people have done. I guess they have to look at litigation, or being more connected to people who fight for access to information might help. “They’re fighting on a battlefield where they’ve already lost and they haven’t won anything back. There’s a belief among a lot of people in the gallery that if Stephen Harper loses that everyone will be fine, that Justin Trudeau or Tom Mulcair would come in and turn the clock back to 2005 and everything would be a lot better, but I don’t believe that that will happen. I really believe that what Stephen Harper’s done is so tempting to anybody else who gets in and so efficient in the way it’s sidelined the press that no politician would really, unless their arms are twisted, would ever turn the clock back.” Mr. Bourrie said questions about limits on government power, Parliamentary debate and scrutiny, and information control need to be put to candidates in the 2015 election before irreversible damage is done to the Parliamentary system. “We’re down to the bottom of the ninth. If people want to have a democratic system, they better figure that out now.” He’s right. The media should be fighting back and access to government should be an issue in the next election.