By now the video has gone viral. At least by Canadian standards.

It shows newly minted Conservative Party of Canada Leader Pierre Poilievre being heckled at his debut news conference by Global News chief political correspondent David Akin.

Before the news conference started, reporters had been told there would be no questions, but Akin asked questions anyway, shouting them out from the floor, drowning out Poilievre’s statement.

At first, Poilievre tried to brush it off as a joke, saying a “liberal heckler” must have shown up. Then he pushed back saying he’d never heard Akin interrupt the prime minister this way. Finally, Poilievre capitulated under pressure and agreed he’d allow two questions from the media. He then restarted his speech without further interruption.

No doubt Akin was being rude. He was hounded by viewers and later put out a statement on Twitter: “Lots of readers/viewers called me about today’s Parliament Hill presser. Many said I was rude and disrespectful to @PierrePoilievre. I agree. I’m sorry for that. We all want politicians to answer questions — but there are better ways of making that point.”

There definitely were better ways to make the point. Perhaps all the media should have turned off their cameras and walked out.

Worse still, a tweet by Anthony Koch, Poilievre’s press secretary, alleged Akin “told me to tell Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre to go f–k himself.”

Since then Toronto Star Columnist Bruce Arthur has reported that 'sources in the room' heard it differently.

Opinion: You don’t get to cheat citizens in a democracy by holding a “press conference” where you muzzle the press and expect us to play along, writes Karyn Pugliese.

In fact, Akin told Koch, “We’re not his f------ stenographers. And you can tell him that.”

CNO has now been able to independently confirm the statement as reported by The Star is correct.

It may still be that any reporter dropping an F-bomb to a source should have their mouth washed out with soap. Mothers across Canada can settle the debate on manners later.

For now, while I don’t love his overly combative approach, we should not miss the point of what triggered Akin. I won’t defend his actions, but I will defend his sentiment.

Who the hell calls a press conference, then tells reporters they can’t ask questions?

It’s right in the words: P-R-E-S-S conference.

Dear politicians, if you want to reach the public without the media, you’re free to open a Facebook page or post more of your spicy attack ads to YouTube. Maybe suck up a few million taxpayers' dollars to fund a PR “war room” like Jason Kenney and if your voters keep coming back, more power to you. You can even launch your own news site like Doug Ford did.

However, there are still citizens in this democracy who invest their time and money to support a free press. They want journalists to represent them, to seek truth and demand accountability.

That’s right, if you want access to media platforms, public accountability is the price of entry.

You don’t get to cheat citizens in a democracy by holding a “press conference” where you muzzle the press and expect us to play along.

Mr. Poilievre, welcome to the first day of leadership class.

Here is lesson 101: You are not the free press’ gatekeeper.

Updates and corrections

| Corrections policy
September 15, 2022, 11:00 am

This story has been updated to include more specific information about the remarks by David Akin.

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I will give David Akin from Global News the benefit of the doubt along with my thanks and praise for doing his job with vigour. Akin didn't initiate the problem. P.P. did and David simply let him know in no uncertain terms that the CPC leader's idea of how things work with the media in a free country wasn't going to work for him and the people he reports to. All that said, thank you National Observer for publishing the story. My fear is that certain media organizations will be treating P.P. with kid gloves for his entire tenure by simultaneously normalizing, sanitizing Mr. Poilievre's agenda and aiding and abetting his unfounded attacks.

Damn straight. Poilievre wants to talk total rubbish, so of course he doesn't want anyone being able to ask questions that risk showing he's talking total rubbish, but you know, too bad. One of the major functions of the press should be to expose when our would-be leaders are talking total rubbish.

So maybe Akin was rude. So? Not clear where modern Conservatives have a right to complain about that.

The press now has a genuine PP Tape created on the Conservative leader's first day, no less, to repeatedly remind citizens of the leader's slippery commitment to democracy and truth telling years in advance of the next election.

Surely this is very simple: if PP wants the press to limit their reporting to *his* message, simply refuse to attend his "press conferences". The press is not a public relations firm for PP or any other vested interest, and must resist being so used.

Typical conservative politician. If you don't want to answer questions, my question is what are you hiding? I won't vote for anyone who won't answer questions and I hope all Canadians feel the same way.

My theory, and it is only a guess is that he was trying to avoid questions about this story: (Which is exactly what reporters asked about once he agreed to allow questions.) k.

Not answering questions, making announcements instead of answering questions, puting no actual policy in front of the electorate ...
If you'll recall, Harper didn't even show up for debates.
Someone should report on what Harper's been up to since 2015.

This is disturbing. While Aikin was definitely out of line so was PP. I agree with others, if you won't answer questions then what is he hiding? Sadly, his supporters won't see it that way. They'll think he's a hero for sticking it to the enemy. PP is following in Harper's footsteps and using right-wing psychological warfare. Their cold calculus is that 20% of people are on board with him naturally and, to get power in our system, you only need 15 or 20% more votes to win. They don't care about the 60 to 70% of us who disagree. We are irrelevant to their march to power.

Even worse, PP is already using the first trick in former US president T****'s playbook: "Be a complete @$$hat and see how much you can get away with." ("I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn't lose any voters, OK?" Telling supporters to "knock the crap out of" would-be hecklers. Mocking a journalist with a disability. Something about kittens and women. Breathing down Clinton's neck during that debate.) And they let him get away with everything he tried.

That first rule in the playbook continues: "If they let it pass, then ramp it up." It's clear that David Akin had his eyes on T****'s behaviour south of the border and wants none of it here. We owe Akin a debt of gratitude for calling out PP's T****ian behaviour.

There is an interesting side show of PP's unacceptable behaviour that played out in Quebec yesterday. Mr Alain Rayes was a conservative member of parliament(MP) who supported Jean Charest in his bid for the leadership. After PP's win last Saturday, Mr Rayes announced that he will retire from the conservative caucus and sit as an independent MP. A tweet, apparently from the leader's office, was sent to all conservative members of his riding encouraging them to flood his telephone to demand that he resign as MP thereby forcing a by-election. Mr Rayes fought back by claiming it is blatant intimidation to anyone who doesn't toe the line. Things got so hot that last night, Polièvre's office made a feeble excuse that it was a robocall that was sent inadvertenly!

This is an exemple of how PP works!

Risky to even MENTION robocalls you'd think....

In fact, those are the questions reporters did pose once they were allowed to at this same press conference. You can hear the question in French at the end of the video.

All of the comments so far are spot on. What we see is the culmination of a political party resorting to the fascist tactics of all the current far right politicians and playing to the (sometimes justified) paranoia of people who feel excluded from their society and from political representation.

Reforming our electoral system to adopt proportional representation will legitimately acknowledge the politics of exclusion that have led modern democracies to the brink of destruction. Check out the information available at Fair Vote Canada. We CAN do better.

Indeed, much of the current political discourse within Canada today is due to the grievous inability of our First-Past-The-Post (FPTP) electoral system to translate how we vote into a fair representation within our various government entities. Any system that allows less than 40% of voters to claim a “majority government” is an insult to all Canadians. A made-in-Canada electoral system of Proportional Representation (PR) would give Canadians what they deserve: governments that truly mirror how they voted (

Of course, the power brokers (aka “the usual suspects”) don’t want to give up their power and influence and will use misinformation, disinformation and other mendacious methods in an attempt to convince Canadians that they don’t want true democracy.

The Conservatives have always steadfastly opposed any attempt to replace our archaic FPTP electoral system as they are seemingly very content to support the egregious voter suppression which is endemic in our current system. Proportional Representation is an obvious threat to both the Conservatives’ and the Liberals’ ability to attain a majority government with less than a majority of the votes; hence the reason behind Trudeau’s shameful reversal of his 2015 electoral reform election promise comes sharply into focus.

Paradoxically, the current Liberal government would NOW be wise to institute a made-in-Canada PR electoral system, with the support of the NDP, Green Party and possibly the BQ; together representing the majority of Canadian voters. Such a bold move would at least partially reconcile Trudeau’s betrayal of a campaign promise (he could then wisely step down as Liberal leader); while also putting Pierre Poilievre and the Conservatives on notice that their current antics aren’t going to cut it any more. But alas, I won’t hold my breath that Trudeau and the Liberals have the guts to be so bold and conciliatory.

I think it's only fair to remember that there have been several provincial referendums on proportional representation and all have rejected it for a myriad of reasons and although a committee was struck by Trudeau when he became PM, there was no consensus. He apparently preferred preferential ballot which is used in Australia, so he IS open to change but possibly felt it was too divisive an issue to lead with. This is where Liberals could maybe take a page out of the Conservative's playbook because that would obviously not have given them pause at all, quite the contrary.

A closer look at the previous referendum results on electoral reform in BC and PEI reveals a slightly different conclusion, in my opinion. The 2016 referendum in PEI (non-binding) showed that 52+% favoured PR over FPTP. The 2005 BC referendum on a specific option of PR (STV) resulted in a large majority of voters (57.7%) supporting it. Unfortunately, the BC Liberal government (opposed to electoral reform) had set a 60% threshold for this referendum to pass; very ironic given that NO majority governments in Canada has ever attained that level of support. In fact, only two majority governments in Canada have managed to attain a 50%+ threshold of support (i.e. a true majority) in the last 70 years!

But the bigger issue here is that the use of referendums to gauge public support for a complex issue like electoral reform is a flawed process, for a number of reasons. First and foremost is the obvious fact that referendums favour the status quo to a huge extent; the devil you know (FPTP) versus the devil you don’t (PR).
People are generally nervous and uncomfortable with change, especially change that is unfamiliar to them. Opponents of electoral reform capitalize on this fear of change by utilizing fear-mongering, misinformation, innuendo, outright lies, and other disinformation to scare voters off voting to support proportional representation. Truth in advertising isn’t applicable to politics (pity) so there’s no recourse to these nefarious tactics.

During the last BC referendum on electoral reform, the NO campaign even ran TV ads/video ads, as well as print ads, that featured goose-stepping German soldiers; a glaringly obvious attempt to convince people that PR encourages extremism in government (it doesn’t). The BC Liberals (a misnomer if there ever was one. Sorry, I digress) actively opposed and campaigned against PR; and also participated in the disinformation campaign against PR.

Meanwhile the BC NDP government gave lukewarm support, at best, to the YES campaign; the result of lackadaisical support for PR within the party. In my opinion, the NDP wanted this referendum to fail from the start because it might mean sharing the reins of power if it passed. Premier John Horgan would have been far better off during the televised debate to confront Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson on the coordinated Liberal/NO committee disinformation campaign than foolishly going on about “wokeism.”

“The Liberal talking points on electoral reform: a collection that belongs in an alternative facts class of its own.”
– National affairs writer Chantal Hebert

Trudeau’s rejection of electoral reform was a thinly disguised attempt to cover up the rejection of the Liberal’s only (obviously preconceived) choice for electoral reform - winner-take-all ranked ballot - by both the experts and the public during the public consultation process held by the Electoral Reform Committee (ERRE). Ranked ballots are not a voting system, but rather just a tool for use in conjunction with an electoral system. The use of a ranked ballot with FPTP will only continue, exaggerate, or even exacerbate the many problems with FPTP. The Liberal party support for a winner-take-all ranked ballot system is nothing but a cynical tactic of self-preservation, as they would benefit more than any other party from such a system.

“In the end, 88% of the experts the ERRE heard (invited and vetted by all parties) and 87% the public who testified were for PR. The ERRE online survey found strong support for both the principle of PR and specific proportional systems.” (Fair Vote Canada)

Fourteen years of Canada-wide polling on electoral reform has shown majority support for proportionality in government; as well, fourteen separate committees, assemblies and commissions on electoral reform have all recommended proportional representation. In the run up to the 2015 election, three parties, Liberals, NDP and Green, supported electoral reform (63% of voters ); in particular the need for proportionality in parliament. In that context, Trudeau’s comments that there is no consensus are bogus and irrelevant.
Eventually a province (possibly Quebec) will switch to an appropriate made-in-Canada PR electoral system and then the floodgates will finally open when the people of Canada see what proportionality in politics looks like. No country has ever gone back to FPTP after experiencing PR for a few election cycles.

Lastly, democratic principles demand that the rights of the minority are protected and respected by the majority. The use of referendums by government delayed women getting the vote in Switzerland until 1971; because women being given the vote threatened the status quo and the power brokers in control. So we need to ditch electoral reform referendums and use Citizens’ Assemblies to study, investigate and consider options before making recommendations on how to move forward with introducing proportionality in our governments.
We need to give all voters the right to have their votes count and to be reflected as close as possible in the makeup of our governments.

Rhetorical question of course but the more pertinent question is which SIDE of the political spectrum initiated the first American-style attack ad in Canada? And which side initiated the routine blowing off of debates before elections? And which side f***ing STARTED the whole fake news/misinformation/disinformation/deep fake/"post-truth" nightmare? All with malice aforethought and garnering admiration as master strategists where the ends justify the means, the ends being winning despite the actual numbers in the population as another commenter pointed out here, which are 60/40 in favour of progressives, same as in the States apparently. Look at gun control and abortion, where the right wing there has finally, after consistent effort over time, gamed the system at the highest level by capturing their Supreme Court. Harper started that here as well but our system is fortunately more resistant.
What to do? I just heard Trevor Tombe, an economist at U of C neatly debunk everything Boilievre said in this clip about "Justinflation." (So clever and such wordsmiths these cons.)
So how about the "truth sandwich" idea I've mentioned before where any progressive journalist in their writing or reporting on conservatives, especially PP (btw, why not introduce his earlier nickname "Skippy" instead) introduce the relevant and usually damning context on the topic, quoting actual experts? As in "counter to what Trevor Tombe, economics professor at U of C has said, Poilievre insists that...." and never call him by his title, just his last name except mumble in a "B" instead of a "P" to consistently but subtly disrespect and disparage him as has been done with Trudeau for years.
And just not showing up at all is maybe tit for tat, but could be employed strategically as well because we know how much Poilievre and his ilk count on blanket respect and deference for him as "leader of HIS majesty's loyal opposition," despite (and spite is indeed the word) his party actively aping the Republicans despicable attempt to erode democracy itself, wellspring of his treasured title. It's like Charest rightly said, that you can't be the maker AND the breaker of laws simultaneously.
Conservatives mainstay is truly sucking and blowing so we shouldn't need the f-word although it certainly did my heart good to hear that....

Yup, the freedom fighter doesn't consider our media essential, legitimate and necessary for democracy. Big joke this guy and so typical of Conservatives

I think we have all seen enough of PeePee to understand how he intends to "play the game". In my opinion its truly up to The Press to "Press Home" to PeePee what the penalties are for such blatant misuse of the media.

Well I stand corrected on my suggestion of "Skippy" from his early days before his skin had even cleared up because
"PeePee DOES have a certain ring to it....

Haven't seen so many comments on a CNO story in ages, and from many unfamiliar names!

Something to do with good journalism about something that just happened yesterday, real news! Hire Karen for more of same!!

Definitely do not want to see round 2 of Harper conservatism, wherein the media is treated at best like a tool and at worst like the enemy. Anyone who feels that they can't succeed without either controlling or silencing the media, is not worthy of any thinking adult's trust.

We just have to stop electing lying bullies, who'd like to wipe their behinds with our shared environment, and their feet on our tools of democracy, and we'll all be far better off. What kind of person respects or trusts this kind of mean-spirited self-aggrandizing jerk, anyhow? He reeks of dishonourable.

I fully support this vigorous defense of a free press. Well done! But why the reference to mothers as guardians of decorum? Not very progressive or contemporary...

I believe you have just upheld the Freedom of the Press!!! Thank you. Polièvre is an unmuzzled pit-bull who is nasty, conniving, dangerous, a sniveling weasle who cannot deal directly with the real world of Nature, human beings, food production, poisons in the atmosphere. He has invented a scenario that slides him into power by besmirching his opponents. He's a nasty man, who finds many nasty angry folk to champion.