Ministers cut and run from military procurement announcement

After a significant policy announcement about a major reform of military procurement Wednesday, Diane Finley and Rob Nicholson dashed out of a hotel ballroom and down a back hall into a parking garage, before Nicholson paused to take a few questions from reporters.

Diane Finley and Rob Nicholson use the side door following speech on new procurement regime

Defence Minister Rob Nicholson led reporters on a bit of a chase after Wednesday's procurement announcement before stopping for questions. 2:09

After making a significant policy announcement about a major reform of military procurement Wednesday, Diane Finley and Rob Nicholson dashed out of a hotel ballroom and down a back hall into a parking garage, rather than face questions from reporters.

The escape appeared rehearsed, with several staffers standing by the side doors of the Château Laurier ballroom, and another staffer on the outside waiting to guide the ministers down a back hall to the hotel's covered parking garage.

But reporters sniffed out the plan and dashed to try and catch up with the ministers to try to learn more about the government's procurement reform plan.

Public Works Minister Diane Finley refused to pause as she ran but threw a couple of curt answers over her shoulder at a CBC News reporter while she dashed down the luxury hotel's back hall.

Defence Minister Rob Nicholson was not so lucky. By the time he had cleared his way through the crowd of defence industry insiders at the procurement announcement, a large group of reporters and camera operators had caught up to him.

Nicholson and communications staffer Julie DiMambro fought a brave rearguard action to try to fend off reporters, but in the end both apparently changed their minds and agreed to a short scrum in the darkness of the parking garage.

Most visitors to the hotel use the stately front entrance on Ottawa's Rideau St., where the hotel provides a loading area.

The hotel also maintains a porticoed side entrance where VIPs such as ministers of the Crown have their chauffeured cars wait in a small private drive.

But Wednesday neither of those options were apparently deemed appropriate. Instead Finley and Nicholson's cars were idling in the parking garage, located behind the hotel.

Alyson Queen, Finley's director of communications, said staffers were told the garage entrance was the best one for their ministers to use. Queen said there was no plan to avoid reporters, although the ministers were in a rush.

"They were tight on time and did have to get back to the Hill," she said.