Free Expression

Free expression. Source protection. Access to information. All of these are essential to democracy and an open society.

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World Press Freedom Day 03 MAY: Fight for free press, truth, democracy - After decades of progress, the world is facing a crisis as more and more governments crack down on freedom of speech. We have long seen repressive regimes in China, North Korea, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Cuba and many other countries smother free expression, but recently, formerly progressive countries like Poland and Turkey have joined in the suppression. On this day, we must all stand together and speak out in support of our basic human right. Today, we honour our colleagues around the globe who are fighting for a free press, truth, and democracy. Many have been harassed, jailed, attacked or even murdered by governments, terror groups or criminal gangs. In the vast majority of cases, no suspects are ever caught or punished. We must end the impunity. Even here in Canada, we must fight any attempt to limit a free press or thwart the public’s right to know. As journalism goes, so goes democracy. CWA Canada President Martin O’Hanlon
video interview with Matthew Deiaco Police force’s demand for Toronto Star video interview flies under radar - H.G. WATSON | J-Source Here are the facts of the case: A reporter interviews a person accused of heinous crimes. A story including parts, but not all, of the interview is published. Several months later, the police serve the reporter with a judicial order, called a production order, for the complete interview. The news outlet fights the production order in court—and loses. You might think this is a description of the highly publicized Vice Media case against the RCMP. The facts are similar. But it isn’t. This is a description of a production order brought against the Toronto Star by the Toronto Police Service in the very last days of 2016, a case that has gone completely under the radar. And, unlike their colleagues at Vice, the Toronto Star has decided it will not continue fighting the production order in court. The differences between the two cases underline how Canadian law fails to protect journalists and their sources. Read the whole story at
VICE reporter Ben Makuch Ruling against VICE reporter ‘bad news for journalism’ - A ruling today by the Ontario Court of Appeal that a VICE Media reporter must hand over his notes to the RCMP is “bad news for journalism and for democracy,” said CWA Canada President Martin O’Hanlon. The media union, which represents workers at VICE’s Canadian news operations, was part of a coalition of groups that intervened in the legal fight between the media company and the police over a journalist’s right to protect sources. “Police have an important job to do in protecting us from crime, but they cannot expect journalists do that job for them,” O’Hanlon said. “The media is not, nor should it ever be, an arm of the state. As journalists, we must fight any attempt by anyone, especially authorities, to interfere with freedom of the press. “This fight is not over.” VICE had appealed an Ontario Superior Court ruling that upheld a production order issued by the Mounties against journalist Ben Makuch to hand over all communications between him and an alleged ISIS fighter. The company said in a statement today it plans to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada. “Simply put, this isn’t over,” said VICE Canada president Ryan Archibald. Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE), which [...]
Coalition urges press shield laws, inquiry into spying on journalists - A press freedom coalition of a dozen organizations, including CWA Canada, is calling on the federal government to take urgent action to protect journalists and their sources. In a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould and Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale, the coalition expressed its concern that press freedom is being steadily eroded in Canada. “Canada recently dropped ten places in Reporter Without Borders (RSF) World Press Freedom Index, thanks to what the organization called a ‘dark age for journalism’ under our previous federal government. Despite the Prime Minister’s strong rhetoric in support of journalism, under your government there have been multiple press freedom violations in Canada. Based on current trends, and without decisive action, the ‘dark age’ looks set to continue. “We see this in the spying on Patrick Lagacé and his colleagues by police, the potential jail sentence faced by VICE News reporter Ben Makuch, the possible trespassing charges facing Justin Brake for his coverage of protests at Muskrat Falls, and the seizure of the Journal de Montreal’s Michael Nguyen’s laptop, among other cases. Are there other serious violations of press freedom in Canada, more journalists being spied on? Because of the lack of [...]
Carmel Smyth, Tom Henheffer, Ben Makuch CWA Canada among interveners in VICE vs RCMP case - A judge has granted CWA Canada and its coalition partners permission to intervene in the legal fight between VICE Media and the RCMP over a journalist’s right to protect sources. “This is an initial victory,” said President Martin O’Hanlon. “The big battle lies ahead” when the case is heard in February by the Ontario Court of Appeal. VICE is appealing an Ontario Superior Court ruling that upheld a production order issued by the Mounties against journalist Ben Makuch to hand over all communications between him and an alleged ISIS fighter. The media company has launched, a multi-platform campaign to raise awareness about the case. Canadians will be encouraged to sign a petition to Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould, Minister of Public Safety Ralph Goodale and RCMP Commissioner Robert Paulson, asking them to drop demands for the release of Makuch’s private material and correspondence with sources. VICE argues the ruling will have a “detrimental chilling effect on the practice of journalism in Canada” by undermining the independence of news outlets and compromising the trust between journalists and their sources. “If the ruling stands,” said O’Hanlon, “it would be bad news for journalism and for democracy. Sources, including whistleblowers, would be far [...]

Link to the full Free Expression news archive on CWA Canada

Offsite Insight

17.03.09 Canadaland – Journalist facing criminal charges for covering indigenous protest
17.03.09 – This is a serious threat to press freedom
17.02.25 – Bill C-51: National Day of Action in review

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