Monday November 22, 2021 | NATIONAL
by Mary P Brooke, Editor | Island Social Trends
Amidst the rollout of priorities for the 44th Parliament which starts today, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh was asked by media what he thinks about two journalists having been arrested in BC while reporting on site during a protest where RCMP arrested protestors.
Two Canadian journalists covering Wet’suwet’en land defenders in BC were among 15 people arrested by RCMP on Friday night, November 19. [Details here in Toronto Star article]
- Photographer Amber Bracken was on assignment for The Narwhal when she was arrested; she was carrying a letter of assignment from her editor. “We strongly condemn the RCMP for this behaviour and all violations of press freedoms in this country,” said Emma Gilchrist, editor-in-chief of the Narwhal, in an emailed statement.
- Filmmaker and photographer Michael Toledano, a freelance reporter who has been living in Wet’suwet’en territory in order to create a documentary about what Indigenous people face in the region, was also arrested.
NDP supports journalists:
Singh was immediately straightforward in his response during this morning’s press conference at Parliament buildings in Ottawa. Here is his statement in full:
“We support the freedom of the press and journalists shouldn’t be arrested,” said Jagmeet Singh.
“Journalists should be able to provide the rest of the world, the rest of Canada, with information about what’s going on, and should not be arrested.”
Last week BC Public Safety Minister and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth (who is presently serving as Deputy Premier in the overall absence of Premier John Horgan who is undergoing health care attention for cancer) said government in BC does not tell the RCMP what to do.
He said he understood the two journalists had been released.
The B.C. Supreme Court ruled earlier this year that RCMP was not justified in imposing expansive “exclusion zones” and checkpoints that limited media access to protests against old-growth logging at Fairy Creek, and specified that police must not interfere with media access to the site without a clear operational rationale requiring it.
Generally speaking, governments that directly tell police or military what to do are not putting people or democracy first.
Journalism plays a direct role in reflecting back to society what society itself is doing, and what elected leaders and governments are doing.
Over the years, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has expressed his support for the rights of journalists in Canada.