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Harper snubs Press Gallery dinner [http://www.PoliticsWatch.com Updated 2:30 p.m., September 26, 2007]

Prime Minister Stephen Harper at the 2004 Press Gallery Dinner. 

OTTAWA  — The prime minister has snubbed the media again.  

In the latest development in the battle between the Prime Minister's Office and the Parliamentary Press Gallery, Prime Minister Stephen Harper confirmed Wednesday he will not attend the annual Press Gallery dinner. 

"The prime minister will be unable to attend the upcoming Press Gallery Dinner," Sandra Buckler, Harper's director of communications, said in a brief e-mail to Press Gallery president Richard Brennan.  

Just hours after the PMO cancelled, Governor General Michaelle Jean's office also informed the Press Gallery executive she will not attend the dinner. 

The prime minister's decision not to attend the annual event where journalists and politicians listen to the party leaders and the Governor General deliver comedic speeches comes as no surprise. 

Relations between the prime minister and the Parliament Hill media have been rocky since the Conservatives took power in February 2006. 

The Press Gallery has written numerous letters protesting the PMO's control of the prime minister's press conference, which requires reporters to submit their names to a member of Harper's staff  before asking questions. A number of major outlets boycott the PM's so-called "list" and do not ask questions at Harper's press conferences. 

In August, the Prime Minister's Office ordered RCMP officers to evict reporters from the lobby of a Charlottetown, PEI, hotel where Conservative MPs were holding their summer caucus retreat. 

Harper is not the first recent prime minister to have a hostile relationship with the Press Gallery. 

In his recent book Memoirs 1939 to 1993, former prime minister Brian Mulroney writes in great detail about his battle with the Press Gallery. 

Mulroney's account reads almost like a playbook for Harper's current strategy with the media, including his decision not to hold regular press conferences in the National Press Theatre.  

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