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 a threat to freedom of the press and to our democracy.
“Journalists are a force for good in this country and they should not face this kind of harassment.”
Canadian Media Guild President Kamala Rao expressed relief that the journalists, CMG members, are safe.
“Everyone deserves to be safe in their workplace and journalists must be able to report on whatever stories we believe are relevant to our communities, to audiences. That is the job, and that work is central to the core values of our society,” Rao said.
“The work that journalists do often draws attention where it’s not wanted. And that is as it should be. Attacks against journalists for doing this vital work must not be tolerated.”
CMG is following up with its VICE members and the employer to learn from this incident and try to ensure it can’t happen again.
CWA Canada represents about 6,000 media workers at newspapers and other companies coast to coast, including the CBC, The Canadian Press, Thomson Reuters, Ottawa Citizen, Montreal Gazette, Halifax Chronicle Herald, and Victoria Times Colonist.
For more information contact:
President, CWA Canada
President, Canadian Media Guild
Acting President, VICE Branch, Canadian Media Guild
Quebec Director, VICE Branch, Canadian Media Guild