The Department of National Defense paid thousands for retired journalists to provide “media training” to staff.
According to Blacklock’s Reporter, several former journalists were paid $750 a day to teach DND staffers basic communications skills.
“They were using media people to train officers going on overseas missions,” one former participant said.
“There were exercises on how to hold a scrum, how to answer questions, how to stay on message.”
Among the journalists paid include two former CBC staff, one former Hill Times editor and a current contributor to Lawyer’s Daily.
The department’s budget for training sessions has radically increased in recent years. In 2017, DND paid $9,323 for training costs; by 2019 that number had increased to $24,145.
“Due to the sustained Canadian Armed Forces operational tempo and the associated Canadian Armed Forces commitment to provide timely, accurate and reliable information, demand for the Defence Public Affairs Learning Centre’s Designated Spokesperson Training program and support has increased,” the department wrote.
The Trudeau government has paid a number of journalists lucrative contracts in exchange for consulting services. In some cases, these contracts appear to be conflicts of interest.
In 2019, the public relations firm owned by CBC commentator Amanda Alvaro was paid $24,997 to provide “media coaching” to Women and Gender Equality Minister Maryam Monsef.
Alvaro also received $16,950 for a contract with the Department of Foreign Affairs.
According to CBC’s Journalistic Standards and Practices, Alvaro’s financial ties should have been made clear to the audience during her appearances on air.
Another CBC pundit, University of Ottawa law professor Carissima Mathen, was paid $24,750 for “advisory services” for the privy council.