Parliamentary press gallery dinner part of government business: McNeil

Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil says attending the annual press gallery dinner in Ottawa on the weekend was part of government business.

The gala evening was part of a three-day trip to Ottawa, where McNeil says he had meetings with federal ministers and senior government officials.

Asked whether the gala was government business McNeil said “yes.”

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“I would encourage any premier to go to it, I had access to many senior ministers but I would argue equally as important, I had an opportunity to meet many people of the press gallery in Ottawa,” McNeil said.

The Ottawa trip went Friday to Sunday. McNeil said he met with Transport Minister Marc Garneau on Saturday to talk about the Emerson Report, which is a review of the federal transportation act.

McNeil said he specifically talked about foreign ownership in airlines and the “impact that may potentially have on Atlantic Canada.”

READ MORE: Party leaders trade barbs, gags at Parliamentary Press Gallery dinner

McNeil attended the Saturday gala with his top advisor Laurie Graham, whose connections with the press gallery run deep having first been a member of the gallery as a national reporter with CBC and then with CTV. Graham was not on government business for the dinner.

The sold-out dinner was also attended by Prime Minister Justine Trudeau and his wife Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, all three major party leaders, and Governor General David Johnston.

Each politician or political staffer is invited to the dinner by a journalist —; in McNeil’s case he went with a CBC producer. Tickets for the event are paid for by the journalist who invites the guest.

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