The Canadian Association of journalists (CAJ) is deeply concerned about the alarming rise in harassment and threats against journalists covering the Ottawa occupation protests and similar demonstrations across the country.
“We welcome thoughtful criticism and discussion of journalists’ work but threatening, harassing, physically intimidating, or throwing objects at journalists reporting on these protests has no place in a free country like Canada and is completely unacceptable,” said CAJ president Brent Jolly.
Earlier this week, the House of Commons adopted a motion, under unanimous consent, put forward by Bloc Québécois MP Martin Champoux that stated:
“That the house reaffirm the primordial and essential role of journalists in a democracy and deplore the attempts to intimidate them in recent days as part of their coverage of the events in Ottawa.”
Despite this symbolic show of support, attacks have escalated, including racist, antisemitic, misogynistic threats and hateful messages. Journalists in the field have frequently been unable to record an interview or news item without being interrupted, threatened, or assaulted.
The job of journalists is to responsibly tell stories and cover issues that matter to the public and hold officials and those in power accountable.
“Journalists are not stenographers of those in power or those holding protest signs,” Jolly said. “To think otherwise is a fundamental misinterpretation of the role of journalism in a democratic society.”
The Canadian Association of Journalists is a professional organization with more than 1,200 members across Canada. The CAJ’s primary roles are public-interest advocacy work and professional development for its members.
For more information contact:
Brent Jolly, CAJ president