Every so often, someone in the mainstream media will complain about the Conservative government's muzzling of spokespeople, its secrecy, its general refusal to say anything about any subject that might embarrass it (which in the case of this government would be almost everything). Currently we have Jeffrey Simpson whining about the Cons' refusal to answer questions, refusal to let their staff or scientists answer questions and so on. His conclusion is that there is nothing the media can do, that it's a masterful, unanswerable tactic since the public don't care and all the media can do is occasionally complain.
What a pile of nonsense. I'm happy that Mr. Simpson sees a problem here, but this is a tactic that only works so long as the media is practically working for the government, insisting on giving the Conservatives stacks of legitimacy they do not deserve.
If all the media wanted was to publish eyeball-grabbing news, the solution is obvious. If the Conservative government doesn't want to talk, there are lots of people with interests in policy, who don't like the Conservative government much, who would be happy to get some coverage. If the Cons won't talk about their environmental policies, ask David Suzuki--you'll get lots better quotes anyway. If they won't talk about First Nations, ask Charlie Angus, or maybe even (gasp!) a First Nations leader. Imagine: "In answer to our queries, a communications representative of the minister repeated an irrelevant talking point. But First Nations band leader Joseph Awesomedude said the policy seemed designed to punish First Nations who attempt to take independent steps forward."
If the Conservative government found that the result of refusing to talk, or of giving no real information, was that their opponents got coverage instead and the news was all about the Conservatives getting slagged or someone else's policies being discussed, they'd come around quick enough. But the media won't do that because their job is to help the Cons look legitimate and respectable so long as it's the people of Canada, not the plutocrats of Canada, that they're screwing with.