Monday, June 28, 2010

Freedom of the press? Not in Toronto.

(photo from The Globe and Mail)

Rights and freedoms in Canada

1. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the rights and freedoms set out in it subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.

Fundamental Freedoms

2. Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:
(a) freedom of conscience and religion;
(b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;
(c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and
(d) freedom of association.

Sounds pretty straightforward, doesn't it? Apparently not. At least not when it comes to gatherings of international leaders in Canada like the G20.

Now I'm not all normally, "Fuck the police," but this is out of control.

Check out this video by journalist Brandon Jourdan. According to the description on youtube, his arrest begins at 1:08. Unfortunately, it's not embedding properly on my blog right now, so live with the link please.

The Toronto Star reported on what 20 people identified as protesters, bystanders, walkers-by and yes, reporters, experienced. And it wasn't pretty.

Said Amy Miller: "'I was throttled at the neck and held down. Next thing you know I was being cuffed and put in one of the wagons.' She says she was threatened and harassed by police at the Eastern Ave. detention centre. 'I was told I was going to be raped, I was told I was going to be gangbanged, I was told that they were going to make sure that I was never going to want to act as a journalist again.'”

Adam MacIsaac - Alternative Media Centre, Independent Journalist from Darren Puscas on Vimeo.

She was there with Adam MacIssac (seen in the above video), also described as an independent journalist, who The Star reported: "Police began kicking him in the ribs and stunning him with a stun gun. 'I have a pacemaker!' he screamed repeatedly, but says they didn’t listen." He was later told by the police that they had no idea where his $6,000 worth of camera equipment was and that he should file a complaint.

Now I'm not sure if there's a difference between an independent and freelance journalist. I've worked on staff and I've worked freelance. And I'm not going to debate whether one is a 'real' journalist over the other - I'm sure many already are. But once we start doing that, it's a slippery slope.

Anyway, it doesn't really matter because a Globe and Mail staffer, Lisan Jutras was caught in one melee. Though she didn't have credentials to cover the G20, her tweets were used by the Globe as she first attempted to get out of the crowd and was eventually arrested.

So I guess we're free to report. We just have to be aware we may be arrested, beaten, threatened and have our gear stolen in the process. Duly noted.


  1. Over the past few days since the Summit ended more and more video footage is flooding over Youtube/Facebook. I have seen dozens of images of plain clothes police appearing to be demonstrators only to go charging into a police barricade to their "protection". It would be difficult to convince me now that they, meaning security, were not employing provocateurs and inciting much of the conflict. During a rally back in 2007, they actually caught police posing as demonstrators. Use of provocateurs now seems to be standard operating procedure where highly politicized events. Its all about money and power.

    Here is the 2007 video I speak of.

  2. That final shot really says it all, Tana. Wow.