By Stephen Armah Quaye || Reporting From Canada
The alarming rise in harassment and threats against journalists covering the Ottawa occupy protests and similar demonstrations across Canada have been condemned by the Canadian Association of Journalists [CAJ].
Anti-vaccination truck drivers who are refusing to vacate their picketing line turned their anger on journalists covering their protests and demonstrations harassing, threatening, physically intimidating, and throwing objects at journalists reporting their protests.
President of CAJ Brent Jolly in a statement to the press recently expressed deep concern about the harassment and attacks on journalists covering the protests ad demonstrations saying, “It is completely unacceptable.”
He frankly said, “We welcome thoughtful criticism and discussion of journalists’ at work but threatening, harassment, physically intimidating, or throwing objects at journalists reporting on these protesters has no place in a free country like Canada and is completely unacceptable.”
Last week, the House of Commons adopted a motion under unanimous consent, put forward by Bloc Quebecois MP Martin Chanpoux which stated, “ that the house reaffirms 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.”
But despite this symbolic show of support, attacks have escalated, including racist, anti-Semitic, 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 she observed with concern.
Brent Jolly reminded the protesters that 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 f those in power or those holding protest signs. To think otherwise is a fundamental misinterpretation of the role of journalism in a democratic society” Brent Jolly said.
The Canadian Association of Journalists (CAJ) is a professional organization with more than 1,200 members across Canada.
The CAJ primary roles are public-interested advocacy work and professional development for its members.