What price will Canada pay so the Conservatives can fill their coffers? (Photograph by

What price will Canada pay so the Conservatives can fill their coffers? (Photograph by

In its repeated attacks on the media, the governing Conservatives may also be undermining Canada’s international reputation for press freedom.

This week, the party’s fundraising and membership director Jaime Girard claimed in a fundraising email that, “Unlike the Liberals, [the Tories] don’t have the Ottawa media elite backing us.”

That followed an earlier fundraising email, distributed in August, claiming “the urban media elite are mobilizing against” the Conservatives.

Eight months before that, the party also exhorted supporters that they couldn’t “let Liberal attacks and the media stop us from reaching our [fundraising] goal.”

And, in November 2013, Justice Ministry Peter MacKay wrote that the Conservatives needed donations to “fight back” against Liberal leader Justin Trudeau “and his allies in the media.”

Such claims may seem to some like par for Canada’s increasingly partisan political course.

But they are also one of the indicators Reporters Without Borders uses to measure attacks on press freedom worldwide.

Its World Press Freedom Index questionnaire asks respondents how often the government of a country has attempted to publicly discredit or publicly insult journalists within the past 12 months.

The results of that questionnaire — which is sent to 18 freedom of expression groups, Reporters Without Borders’s 150 correspondents, as well as journalists, researchers, jurists and human rights activists — are then used to assemble the index.

The most recent index ranked Canada’s press freedom 18th out of 180 countries examined, although its methodology hasn’t been without criticism.

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