LILLEY: Parliament Hill journalists gaze at their navels as B.C. floods

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The idea that there are no stupid questions was proven false again on Wednesday by a group of out-of-touch journalists on Parliament Hill.

As three Conservative MPs from British Columbia were walking into their party’s weekly caucus meeting in Ottawa, they were peppered with questions about internal party squabbles.

“Do you support Erin O’Toole’s decision to remove Sen. Batters?” yelled out an unidentified journalist.

Brad Vis, who represents some of the hardest-hit areas of B.C., was having none of it.

“The most important question needs to be, why aren’t you asking me about Mission-Matsqui-Fraser Canyon and the devastating flooding that’s taking place in Chilliwack, Hope, Abbotsford, the Okanagan?” Vis said.

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He went on to thank Bill Blair, the minister for emergency preparedness in the Trudeau government, for hosting a number of B.C. MPs at a briefing on the federal response to the flooding. He thanked Minister Blair for his work while also speaking of the evacuations of thousands taking place in B.C. and the worry of looming food shortages.

“All of the major roadways in British Columbia are destroyed. We don’t have rail infrastructure right now,” Vis said.

The followup question apparently came from someone who either didn’t hear a word Vis had just said or didn’t care.

“Do you think Batters should have been kicked out of caucus?” the reporter asked.

Vis again made an impassioned plea for what his constituents need, which is not him talking about party infighting.

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“Right now, my only focus is on supporting the people of Mission-Matsqui-Fraser Canyon in British Columbia. There’s no time for partisan politics. Right now, there’s only time to support British Columbia and get people safe. That should be your only question right now,” Vis said.

He went on to point out the Port of Vancouver — Canada’s busiest — is cut off from the rest of the country, so goods can’t come in and they can’t go out.

You would think a journalist covering public policy in the nation’s capital would ask about this, or how Vis and other Conservatives would work with the Liberals to help B.C.

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You might think that, but you’d be wrong.

“Do you attribute this to climate change?” was the next question.

The only reason to ask that question at that point in time would be to try to paint Vis, or other Conservatives, as climate change deniers. It was as boneheaded and tone-deaf as the first several questions.

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This was not a lone reporter. This was a gaggle of journalists, listening to a man who was explaining how bad things are in British Columbia, how this will affect the rest of Canada as a result of the port being cut off, and they were focused on stupid gotcha politics.

One question might be understandable, but asking repeatedly is inexcusable. As the three MPs moved on to enter their meeting, the question about Batters was yelled out again.

I get that at times, especially when you are fairly junior, a journalist can be sent out by their editor with a specific question, but read the room. Let the B.C. MPs get a pass on that one, or better yet, ask them what’s happening on the ground in their riding.

The problem is that too many people on or around Parliament Hill live in a bubble. If it doesn’t happen on the Hill, they don’t know or care about it.

Here’s a hint: Look outside your own little world now and again. Read a paper or watch a newscast from the other side of the country.

Canada’s a big place, there is a lot going on and believe it or not, the country does not revolve around Parliament Hill.

blilley@postmedia.com

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