Government statement singles out ‘controversial reporter’


In what has been called an “unusual, if not unprecedented” move, the Prime Minister’s Office and parliamentary secretary to the Prime Minister Dean Del Mastro have issued a statement in response to reporting by Stephen Maher in which Maher is referred to as "controversial."

In June, Maher and Postmedia colleague Glen McGregor began reporting on an Elections Canada investigation into alleged financing violations in Del Mastro’s 2008 campaign spending. On Thursday, Maher reported for the Ottawa Citizen that the RCMP had been brought in to help Elections Canada with two separate investigations on the matter.

Del Mastro’s office released a statement in response to Maher’s story to the Conservative MP’s local newspaper, the Peterborough Examiner (emphasis added):

“We’re glad to hear that Elections Canada is attempting to determine whether documents produced by Mr. Del Mastro’s accuser are doctored or false … It is worth keeping in mind that Postmedia recently retracted a story written by controversial reporter Stephen Maher because it made false claims against a Conservative riding association.”

But that’s not exactly true.

No retraction was made on Maher’s Nov. 22 story about donations made to a Conservative riding association in Montreal that the listed donors said they did not make. Rather, after the story was published, Postmedia says the Conservative riding association of Laurier-Sainte-Marie released copies of cheques they had previous declined to provide. A “For the Record” notice was added at the top of Maher’s article, and a follow-up story was published the next day.

Regardless, the statement about Maher caused Christopher Waddell, director of Carleton University's School of Journalism, to be critical of the government’s approach to communications.

“For a government that’s supposedly good at communications, they seem to have a lot of trouble communicating a lot of things,” Waddell told the Citizen.

As for Maher: “I don’t consider myself to be controversial,” the reporter told the Citizen.

For more on this, check out the respective reports in The Ottawa Citizen and the Peterborough Examiner.

Comment Policy

J-Source invites comments on any content items or on any other topics relevant to journalism. Those posting comments are expected to adhere to standards of accuracy and fairness that would be recognized by those who practise, teach or study journalism.

  • Comments are restricted to registered users. You must register with your full first and last name in order to be eligible to comment.
  • Please communicate as effectively and intelligently as you would in a professional or academic forum, focusing on the issues at hand rather than the characters or characteristics of those involved.
  • This forum is intended for discussion of the craft of journalism, not of the issues of the day that journalists cover; please do not post story tips or press releases.
  • We moderate the forum for adherence to these standards of discourse, and reserve the right to decline any comment or restrict any user from commenting without giving reasons. Every effort is made to approve valid comments within 24 hours of submission.