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Access denied

Xtra videographers among journalists turned away from Toronto Liberal Party convention
Ontario Liberal Party members decide today if Ontario will have its first out gay premier. Yet organizers of the party’s massive Toronto convention have not been able to accommodate some journalists who want to cover the event, including members of Toronto’s gay media.
Xtra’s video cameras were denied access to the Liberal leadership convention, Jan 25 and 26 at the Mattamy Athletic Centre in the former Maple Leaf Gardens. The request for accreditation was made last week.
Former Dalton McGuinty spokesperson Bradley Hammond, who is managing media accreditation for the convention, says his list is at capacity with 450 journalists. He can’t say how many are videographers.
“There’s a lot of people making really compelling arguments for any number of reasons,” he says. “The same thing I tell you is the same thing I tell everyone else: there’s nothing I can do.”
Kathy Vey, an editor with the Toronto Star, told Xtra that only eight bloggers were provided media accreditation. Meanwhile, Vey said, the Star has more than 10 journalists at the convention.
Gerald Hannon, award-winning magazine writer and board member of Xtra’s publisher, Pink Triangle Press, jokingly asked if the convention is being held in a telephone booth.
“I would say this is very problematic, given the venue size,” he says.
With lesbian Kathleen Wynne as one of the frontrunners, Hannon called the decision to block Xtra’s cameras “peculiar.”
“You would think they would want Xtra to be there,” he says. “If they are trying to solicit a gay vote, having the most prominent gay media there with a camera makes a lot of sense. I don’t understand it.”
Likewise, Davina Hader, co-chair of Queer Ontario and a member of the Queer Liberals, says the decision makes for poor optics.
“That sucks,” Hader says. “That’s not a good thing. I can’t believe that’s happened. Kathleen Wynne is a very good contender right now, so it’s surprising this would happen.”
If Wynne is victorious, she will become the first openly gay Liberal Party leader in Ontario and the first openly gay premier – as well as the first female premier of Ontario.
“Do you detect a whiff of homophobia in there?” Hannon asks. “Perhaps Wynne’s lesbianism might not be a strong starter outside downtown Toronto. So maybe that’s their strategy, to keep that as quiet as possible.”
Ivor Shapiro, chair of the Ryerson University School of Journalism, agrees that Xtra’s videographer should not have been denied access, but he suspects there’s more to the story.
“I wouldn’t think a political party would be stupid enough to discriminate against a newspaper because of the sexual orientation of its readers,” he says. “It’s hard to imagine that could be the reason.”
However, Hannon points to recent editorials and columns that have cited fears within the Liberal Party, questioning whether some voters will support Wynne because she is “a lesbian from Toronto.”
When the Toronto Star asked Wynne about the political implications of this, she seemed to apologize for the small-town sensibilities of her constituents. “When I raise the issue of being a lesbian from Toronto among Liberals around the province, in a way it insults them. Ontarians don’t want to believe that they are small people. They want to believe that they’re open and that they’re inclusive — and I believe that they are. We underestimate people if we exacerbate those wedges.”
On Jan 22, Star columnist Martin Regg Cohn asked the question: “Is Ontario ready for Premier Kathleen Wynne? In 2013?”
The previous month, prior to Glen Murray dropping out of the race to throw his support behind Wynne, the Star’s Bob Hepburn asked whether Ontario is ready for a gay premier.
But the Ottawa Citizen’s Kate Heartfield responded, calling the Star’s analysis “offensive.” “Who would want to go through life as the columnist who asked, in 2008, whether America was ready for a black president?”
Hannon says the message coming from the Liberal Party is that being gay is fine only until it starts to cost votes. “They are saying, ‘It’s not us, it’s them. We’re okay with someone being gay, but some voters are still not.’”
Hader says she has similar suspicions. “Maybe they are turning away Xtra because of the possibility that Wynne does win.
“If that’s the case, it’s very much censorship,” Hader says. “Maybe they don’t even realize it, or they aren’t considering it in those terms. They were maybe thinking that the major media will cover what they need covered, the way they prefer it to be covered, and that’s all there is to it.”
Hader says that kind of thinking would be misguided. “So much of Kathleen Wynne’s support is with the queer community.”
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Kathleen Wynne's Muslim support
http://www.torontosun.com/2013/01/29/kathleen-wynnes-muslim-support I suspect that the journalists from Xtra were denied access so as not to "offend" Muslim delegates. I bet every other minority newspaper was represented at the convention.
I have worked for so many media outlets.
I wish I could work for Xtra.

Anyways, just because you want to send in 5/10/whatever, doesn't mean you will all get accredited.

Current employer doesn't cover LGBT issues much, an article here or there. We don't get accredited for Pride Toronto Pride week events. We still cover the parade.

Your staff could of gone with a portable HD cam.

Just because you are a media outlet, doesn't mean you will get in. Toronto Star got in and good. They are the biggest newspaper/media outlet in Canada.

When I was working for this festival. I didn't accredit Toronto Star. We had way too many media already. They have never forgiven me for that.
Matt, I disagree. It clearly says video cameras in the article, not reporters.

the article didn't create the impression to me xtra was shut out.
Still misleading...
Sorry, Danny, I completely disagree with your explanations. This article implied that Xtra was shut out of the convention and did NOTHING to correct that impression. Your excuses don't wash. The community deserves better from Xtra.
In the words of Modern Family..
Dear Xtra,

Shall I order you a wah!-mbulance?

Get a real story.

Editor's note
Thanks for your comment Matt. I'm not sure how the story is misleading. It says in the subhead that Xtra journalists were among those turned away. It does not say all Xtra journalists were turned away. It seems pretty obvious that Andrea's there reporting -- she took the photos (the photo credit shows her name) and did some of the interview from within the convention. Not to mention wrote this story and filed it from the convention. The story plainly states that only our video crew was not accredited. We had applied (at the same time as Andrea applied) to send videographers with her. While she, like many, can take video on her phone, how can I expect her to take photos, write stories, take video and edit video? That's why we applied to send our video crew -- the caliber of our video work is apparent on our website. We'd rather not rely on smart phones for such important stories. It doesn't get much more important than this -- and venues don't get much bigger than the Mattamy Centre. With reports that some journalists were being accredited up until yesterday, it seemed worth reporting that our news outlet was only allowed one reporter, especially when you consider that other news outlets were allowed many more than that.
Story misleading, Xtra is covering the convention
As an accredited blogger at the OLP convention, this story caught my interest. I just had a chat with the party's media person, Bradley Hammond, about it. He told me that Xtra reporter Andrea Houston (who has often been seen recording video while covering news stories) is among the list of accredited journalists at this weekend's convention. This story is misleading.

Re: GSAs
Bill 13
(passed June 2012, a shared Liberal-NDP legacy)

12. The Act is amended by adding the following section:

Board support for certain pupil activities and organizations

303.1 (1) Every board shall support pupils who want to establish and lead activities and organizations that promote a safe and inclusive learning environment, the acceptance of and respect for others and the creation of a positive school climate, including,

(a) activities or organizations that promote gender equity;

(b) activities or organizations that promote anti-racism;

(c) activities or organizations that promote the awareness and understanding of, and respect for, people with disabilities; or

(d) activities or organizations that promote the awareness and understanding of, and respect for, people of all sexual orientations and gender identities, including organizations with the name gay-straight alliance or another name.

Same, gay-straight alliance

(2) For greater certainty, neither the board nor the principal shall refuse to allow a pupil to use the name gay-straight alliance or a similar name for an organization described in clause (1) (d).
Very odd
It seems very odd that if lesbian Kathleen Wynne wins the Liberal leadership and becomes the first openly homosexual Premier of Ontario, Xtra will not be there to take video footage. I'm no fan of Xtra (and they probably hate my guts for some of the comments I've posted), but Xtra is the largest gay media outlet in Ontario and should have access to this potentially historic event for LGBT history in Ontario.
This is the party that blocked NDP efforts to protect the rights of LGBT students to use the word 'gay' in their student groups for over a year.
Anyone remember Glen Murray's binders of excuses at the Toronto Centre debate? Gay protections were *impossible* until - poof - they weren't.
So egregious and shameful were their efforts that two activists at the lead of the campaign denounced the Liberals as 'the government that has been actively silencing the voices and experiences of LGBTQ youth.'
So to hear they're blocking gay media should come as no surprise to anyone paying attention to recent history.


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