Ontario Conservative Leader Doug Ford snubbed local and national media following Tuesday’s Northern Leaders’ Debate at the Capitol Centre.
Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca, NDP Leader Andrea Horwath and Green Leader Mike Schreiner stuck around for about an hour after the debate ended to answer questions about Ontario Northland and the Ring of Fire.
Ford left the building immediately following the 90-minute debate.
Del Duca surprised the media, mentioning that Ford wasn’t coming out to speak to the media.
“Well I was supposed to be No. 2 on the list and he (Premier Doug Ford) has left the building. It’s arrogant, it’s disrespectful,” he said.
“The easiest thing in the world for leaders to do is stand at a podium and to read the words someone else has written for you, whether it’s off a screen or a script. What’s hard about leadership, especially the leadership you need from a premier, is showing up, rolling up your sleeves and doing the hard work, having the capacity to do the job or grow into the job.”
The Nugget asked a member of Ford’s press team if he was coming out to talk to the media.
“Sorry he needed to get going.”
Del Duca said Ford’s actions shows he’s the wrong person for the job.
“His performance today and his decision to leave without speaking to all of you really helps to emphasize he is really the wrong person for this job.”
Horwath was asked why she believes Ford took off so quickly.
“You’re going to have to ask Doug Ford that. I have no idea.”
She was then pressed whether she could take a guess as to why he refused to meet with the media.
“I really don’t want to try and get into Doug Ford’s head.
“It’s an election, it’s a time for people to question their leaders and understand what motivates them and understand what their priorities are. Any time you can connect with people should be taken by leaders. You will have to ask him why he doesn’t see that as important.”
Schreiner said he doesn’t understand why Ford is afraid to answer questions and be accountable and transparent.
“I put people before politics and I challenge the premier to do the same to answer the questions people in the province have,” he said.
“It appears the Conservative campaign strategy is to avoid being held accountable. He’s avoided that through much of his time at Queen’s Park and it continues to the campaign. I think the people of Ontario deserve better. They deserve a premier who will stand here and answer the tough questions.”
Can’t comment on NewsClick’s China link, respect media freedom: US
The US government has seen reports of NewsClick’s alleged links to China and is aware of concerns around it though it can’t independently comment on the veracity of those claims. But, as a general principle, the US continues to urge Indian government as well other governments across the world to respect the human rights of journalists, including freedom of expression online and offline.
At a regular State Department briefing on Tuesday, when asked about the raids on the proprietors, staffers and contributors of NewsClick and a New York Times report that the news website was a part of a Chinese influence operation funded through an American businessman, State department‘s principal deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel said, “So we are aware of those concerns and have seen that reporting about this outlet’s ties to the PRC (People’s Republic of China), but we can’t comment yet on the veracity of those claims.”
Patel added that, separately, the US strongly supported “the robust role of the media globally, including social media, in a vibrant and free democracy”.
“We raise concerns on these matters with the Indian Government, with countries around the world, through our diplomatic engagements that are, of course, at the core of our bilateral relationship. And we have urged the Indian Government, and have done so not just with India but other countries as well, about the importance of respecting the human rights of journalists, including freedom of expression both online and offline.”
Patel, however, said that he did not have any additional information about “this particular circumstance or any of the underlying issues that may or may not be related to this outlet”.
India’s Latest Media Arrests Put Washington in an Awkward Spot
(Bloomberg) — India’s latest media crackdown puts the US in an awkward position as it seeks to balance promotion of human rights with courting New Delhi to counter the influence of China.
Police in the South Asian country’s capital arrested the editor-in-chief and another employee of online newspaper NewsClick Tuesday under sweeping anti-terrorism laws. Authorities also raided the offices of the publication, without giving a reason.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has been targeting critical independent media since he took office in 2014. NewsClick came to prominence in 2021 for its extensive coverage of farmer protests against government plans to liberalize agriculture. India has previously accused the media organization of having funding ties to China, which it denies.
For Arati Jerath, a New Delhi-based political analyst, the arrests create a challenge for Washington.
“The US does not want to get too involved in India’s domestic affairs,” she said. “They are looking at India through a geopolitical prism and with China in the picture, India is a strategic partner.”
US Department of State spokesman Vedant Patel said he couldn’t comment yet on claims NewsClick has ties to China.
Patel also stressed the importance of press freedom globally. “We raise concerns on these matters with the Indian government, with countries around the world,” he told reporters in Washington.
India has often argued its democracy and vibrant press are a counterpoint to China with its one-party state and heavily controlled media. The US frequently finds itself torn between its efforts to defend human rights around the world and the pragmatic need to partner with governments accused of rights abuses.
India’s government has often used its anti-terrorism law to intimidate and punish journalists. The law, which doesn’t allow for bail, empowers the police to detain suspects for years without leveling official charges.
India has also scrutinized many mobile app and technology companies for alleged links to China after a Himalayan border clash between New Delhi and Beijing in 2020.
In 2021, authorities raided NewsClick’s office and the homes of seven staff members for what they described as improper foreign investments. Several of them were questioned and NewsClick called the allegations “misleading, unfounded and without basis in fact or law.”
In August, the New York Times cited NewsClick as an organization allegedly being used for Chinese propaganda overseas. India’s Information and Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur said at the time the media outlet was being funded by Beijing.
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Thakur said he didn’t need to justify the raids. “If someone has done something wrong, the investigative agencies will work on it,” he said.
NewClick’s human resources head Amit Chakravarty was also arrested. Several employees’ laptops and mobile phones were seized. Local media reported at least 30 premises were raided, including the homes of six NewsClick reporters.
India fell to 161st of 180 countries and territories in a press freedom ranking by Reporters Without Borders, a press advocacy group, this year. In February, authorities raided the BBC’s offices in New Delhi, weeks after the British broadcaster aired a documentary about Modi’s role in 2002 riots in his home state of Gujarat.
Last year, Mohammad Zubair, a journalist running a fact-checking website, Alt News, was arrested after highlighting anti-Islamic comments made by former BJP officials.
The Press Club of India expressed concern about the arrests and raid, saying it wants the government to explain its actions. The group plans to protest the detentions at a march Wednesday.
Jerath, the analyst, questioned India’s move to arrest the people under the terrorism law without providing details or evidence.
“You have already labeled them as terrorists,” she said.
(Updates with details on the crackdown. An earlier story corrected paragraph 11 to show authorities raided the homes of seven NewsClick staff members in 2021.)
What is NewsClick? A look at India’s media crackdown – Al Jazeera English
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