CWA Canada is calling a decision by border officials to deny entry to a Danish journalist “troubling” and “unacceptable” and wants Public Safety Minister Bill Blair to look into the matter.
Kristian Lindhardt, who has been working for the Danish public broadcaster DR on a documentary about Indigenous resistance to the Trans Mountain pipeline project in B.C., arrived at the Vancouver airport on Friday with his press credentials and a 14-day quarantine plan. After a day of questioning, The Tyee reported, border officials forced him to return to Copenhagen, ostensibly because of concerns about the coronavirus.
“Journalism is of vital importance, particularly in times of crisis, and using COVID as an excuse to block a journalist is simply unacceptable,” CWA Canada President Martin O’Hanlon said. “It is especially troubling because COVID is being used by many regimes as yet another way to crack down on press freedom, and Canada should be setting a positive example for the world.”
“The Canada Border Security Agency has not provided a valid reason why Mr. Lindhardt has been denied entry and so it appears like he is being targeted because of his journalistic work. I urge the CBSA to reverse this decision, and I call on Minister Blair to ensure that happens.”
O’Hanlon’s objections were echoed by several press freedom organizations.
Mogens Blicher Bjerregard, president of the European Federation of Journalists, told CBC News that he was “shocked that Canada should be among countries misusing COVID-19 restrictions.”
He added that it was “a misuse we unfortunately also have seen in Eastern Europe, where investigative journalists have been detained (and) accused for not following the COVID-19 guidelines when telling critical stories.”
Anthony Bellanger, general secretary of the International Federation of Journalists, said the pandemic “must not be used as an excuse to impede certain media coverages and hamper press freedom. The Canadian authorities haven’t provided a valid explanation to deport Mr. Lindhardt. We urge the government to clarify the situation and guarantee freedom of information and access rights for foreign journalists.”