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Alarming rise in threats against journalists covering the Ottawa occupation protests

During the Ottawa protests attacks on journalists have escalated, including racist, anti-Semitic, misogynistic threats and hateful messages. Journalists in the field have been targeted by protestors and frequently been unable to record an interview or news item without being interrupted, threatened, or assaulted according to The Canadian Association of Journalists. The representative body for journalism in Canada is deeply concerned about the alarming rise in harassment and threats against journalists covering the Ottawa occupation protests and similar demonstrations across the country. 

The alarm bells have been raised by CAJ who said journalists have been attempting to cover the rally dubbed “The Freedom Convoy” taking place in Ottawa. The occupation of Canada’s capital city began as a protest by Canadian truckers who either were not vaccinated or supported their unvaccinated co-workers’ hopes of repealing provincial and federal vaccine mandates.

On Friday Ottawa police announced a new “surge and contain” strategy. Some 150 more officers will deploy to the city centre and a ‘red zone’ of police barricades is to expand.

Police also say they will do more to proactively investigate and charge anyone found violating the law.

Authorities are also expecting the protesters to be met by an estimated 1,000 counter-demonstrators.

“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.

“Journalists are not stenographers of 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, President, The Canadian Association of Journalists

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.”

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.


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