Media initially barred from AUMA sessions with cabinet ministers

Members of the media were asked to leave a dialogue session being held by the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association during the municipal leaders’ caucus Wednesday morning at the Shaw Conference Centre.

Alberta Urban Municipalities Association quickly reversed its position

Ministers Shaye Anderson and Deron Bilous answer questions during the AUMA's municipal leaders' caucus. (Peter Evans)

Members of the media were asked to leave a dialogue session being held by the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association during the municipal leaders' caucus Wednesday morning at the Shaw Conference Centre.

Organizers told reporters the sessions, where participants asked questions to provincial ministers, were closed to the media. 

Reporters protested, and organizers reversed their position within an hour. 

AUMA president Barry Morishita said organizers had not expected media to attend the dialogue sessions.

"It was just an oversight on our part," Morishita said. "It was just something that we were not prepared to deal with at the first session."

Morishita, the mayor of Brooks, Alta., said media will be allowed to attend next year's event. 

"It was never our intention to keep information away, it was something that we hadn't done prior. We made that error, and we fixed it."

Ministers say media is welcome

Municipal Affairs Minister Shaye Anderson, who attended several dialogue sessions on Wednesday, told reporters the Alberta government played no role in the decision to exclude media.

"We're very open and transparent. I have no issues talking to the media, none of us do."

Infrastructure Minister Sandra Jansen participated in a dialogue session about transportation and infrastructure. She said she was not aware that media had been asked to leave. 

"I would certainly have wanted media present," said Jansen. "There was no part of that conversation that I didn't think was important to have in a public sphere."

Jansen said municipal leaders asked questions about infrastructure funding, and how to access federal money earmarked for projects. 

Members of the media were allowed to attend the last two dialogue sessions. Participants asked questions related to development and trade, as well as health, seniors, and housing.