National press gallery rules suspended senator is not eligible
Senator Patrick Brazeau may be suspended from the upper chamber but he is still a senator and not a journalist and therefore does not meet the requirement for press credentials on Parliament Hill, the parliamentary press gallery ruled Wednesday morning.
Brazeau was seeking membership in the national press gallery after being hired earlier this month as a freelancer by the Halifax-based satirical magazine Frank. Membership would have given him credentials to gain access to the House of Commons, Senate and other official sites in the parliamentary precinct for the purpose of reporting.
But at a meeting Wednesday morning, the member-elected press gallery board denied Brazeau's request.
Gallery president Daniel Thibeault said the gallery's constitution states that a member's principal occupation must be reporting on federal politics, and also specifies that gallery members can't represent the interests of political parties or governments.
"Senator Brazeau is still a senator with benefits and the executive feels [the request] is incompatible with those rules," said Thibeault, a reporter with Radio-Canada.
Brazeau was suspended from the Senate in October along with fellow senators Mike Duffy and Pamela Wallin. The three former Conservatives were suspended without pay following an outside audit of their expenses. Brazeau has said he will fight the suspension, but has also taken to Twitter in a public job search.
The gallery executive did agree Wednesday to grant day passes to Michael Bate, editor of the recently revived Ottawa-based Frank magazine, which would allow him temporary press credentials upon request.
The two Frank magazines are not related.
The press gallery is a membership-based non-profit organization that oversees press credentials for Parliament Hill. The gallery includes a small staff of House of Commons employees, while all its members and its board are journalists working on Parliament Hill.