Free Expression

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

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On Labour Day weekend, ponder importance of unions, free press for our society - Labour Day Message from CWA Canada President Martin O’Hanlon On this Labour Day weekend, please take a moment to think about how important the labour movement and a free press are for our society and what you can do to help defend these vital pillars of democracy. For well over a century, the labour movement has led the struggle to make life better for common people. It is thanks to unions that we have so much we often take for granted, from decent wages to the five-day workweek, pensions, health coverage — on and on. These gains, which built the middle class, spurred the economy, and strengthened our democracy, took decades to achieve and, if we don’t keep up the struggle, we will lose them. Sadly, in the age of Trump, both our union sisters and brothers and our media colleagues in the U.S. are under attack. In addition to gutting labour laws and social supports, Trump is stirring up anti-media sentiment with inflammatory and hateful rhetoric. It is not normal. It is dangerous. His language is that of a dictator, not of a democratic leader. We are feeling the effects here in Canada as Trump emboldens not only right-wing radicals and others who [...]
Tweet from Jim Acosta, CNN CWA Canada stands with U.S. colleagues against Trump’s attacks on media - Statement by CWA Canada President Martin O’Hanlon on Press Freedom: Today, more than 350 American news publications spoke out against U.S. President Donald Trump’s disturbing verbal attacks on the media and press freedom. Our sister union in the U.S., The NewsGuild-CWA, joined in the campaign, warning that Trump’s “reckless and endangering” words have consequences and will result in physical attacks on journalists. We at CWA Canada, which represents 6,000 media workers across the country, stand shoulder to shoulder with our colleagues south of the border in defence of press freedom — a vital pillar of democracy. Trump’s inflammatory and hateful anti-media rhetoric is not normal. It is dangerous. His language is that of a dictator, not of a democratic leader. We are feeling the effects here in Canada as he emboldens not only right-wing radicals and others who despise a free press, but even some politicians and their supporters. 

We have seen a clear disdain for the press from Ontario’s new premier and his supporters who recently drowned out reporters’ questions at a public event by clapping over them. We must make it clear that such behaviour is not acceptable. Democracy and freedom are fragile and precious — and they are under attack around the globe. More and more governments [...]
Masked men in VICE Media's Montreal office Leader of far-right group faces criminal charges in attempt to intimidate VICE journalists - The leader of the neo-fascist group Atalante, whose members attempted to intimidate VICE journalists last month in Montreal, is facing criminal charges. Martin O’Hanlon, president of CWA Canada, which represents VICE workers through its biggest Local, the Canadian Media Guild, applauded news of the arrest of Raphael Lévesque. He and several of the group’s members had burst into the company’s offices on May 23 to protest an article by reporter Simon Coutu. The union strongly condemned the incident as an attack on freedom of the press that must be punished and called on police to take action. Lévesque has been ordered to appear in court in Montreal on Aug. 16, when he will be formally charged with breaking and entering, mischief, intimidation and criminal harassment. “Journalism is a pillar of a healthy democracy and this sends an important message that our society will not tolerate the harassment or intimidation of media workers,” said O’Hanlon. “CWA Canada will be watching closely to ensure any future harassment is swiftly prosecuted in order to protect our members and freedom of the press.” Montreal police say there are seven other suspects in the case and that there could be more arrests. The incursion into [...]
Masked men in VICE Media's Montreal office Media union condemns attempted intimidation of VICE journalists - OTTAWA / TORONTO / MONTREAL  – The union that represents staff at VICE Canada is outraged at an attempt by right-wing radicals to intimidate journalists at the news organization’s office in Montreal and calls for police to take action. CWA Canada and its biggest Local, the Canadian Media Guild (CMG), strongly condemn the action as an attack on freedom of the press that must be punished. Members of the far-right, anti-immigration group Atalante burst into the VICE office Wednesday to protest an article by reporter Simon Coutu. The men, dressed in black and masked in the colours of the Quebec flag, marched around, shouted and threw papers at workers. They surrounded Coutu and presented him with a mock prize denigrating his work. Police showed up after the intruders left but it is not clear what, if any, action they plan to take. “We are clearly talking about bullying, but that will not prevent us from doing our job well,” Coutu vowed. CWA Canada President Martin O’Hanlon said authorities cannot let the violation go unpunished. “We cannot allow hooligans to get away with this sort of intimidation or it will encourage more serious and possibly violent incidents,” O’Hanlon said. “It is [...]
VICE reporter Ben Makuch CWA Canada stands with VICE as source protection case goes to Supreme Court - VICE Media’s legal fight with the RCMP over a journalist’s right to protect sources goes before the Supreme Court of Canada today. Standing alongside VICE will be CWA Canada, the only union in a coalition of news outlets and journalist organizations that has been granted intervener status in the case. A production order issued by the Mounties against VICE journalist Ben Makuch to hand over all communications between him and an alleged ISIS fighter was upheld by the Ontario Superior Court and the Ontario Court of Appeal. CWA Canada President Martin O’Hanlon called the rulings “bad news for journalism and for democracy” and committed the union to continuing the fight to the highest court in the land. “As a media union, we will speak out loudly to protect freedom of expression and the role of a free press as a pillar of democracy,” O’Hanlon said. “Police have an important job to do in protecting us from crime, but they cannot expect journalists to do that job for them. The media is not, nor should it ever be, an arm of the state.” The media union represents workers at VICE’s Canadian news operations through its biggest Local, the Canadian Media Guild. [...]

Link to the full Free Expression news archive on CWA Canada

Offsite Insight

18.04.05 Reuters – Slovak protesters demand police chief be fired over journalist’s murder
18.03.22 Globe and Mail – Journalist faces unprecedented criminal charges over coverage of Muskrat Falls protest
18.03.20 CAJ – Pelham town officials cannot ignore local journalists
18.03.12 CBC News – Criminal charges to proceed against reporter covering Muskrat Falls protests
18.02.09 CBC News – Supreme Court rules in favour of CBC in publication ban case

17.12.08 CJFE – CJFE condemns seizure of St. Catharines Standard reporter’s notes and laptop
17.12.08 St. Catharines Standard – Niagara Region seizes reporter’s notes, computer
17.11.30 CBC – Vice Media fight with RCMP headed to the Supreme Court of Canada

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