The repression of journalists in Montreal and Quebec in general, is a symptom of the massive and systematic repression of freedom of expression province-wide by government and police forces. On May 18 2012, Law 78 was passed, which unconstitutionally forbade free assembly. This law was morphed literally over night into municipal bylaw P-6 which has been used to incredible effect to deny the Quebec population some of the most fundamental rights guaranteed by the Canadian constitution and Quebec’s own Charte des droits et libertés. This has been enforced by massive police violence, political profiling, and a generalized climate of repression.
It is in this climate that journalists must operate in Montréal. Journalists at all levels, from major mainstream chains to small independent media, have been physically attacked, profiled and arrested systematically by police forces in Québec, notably on the streets of Montréal. I believe this issue affects all Canadians as an affront to the fundamental liberties of any of our citizens is a danger to us all. This issue has not penetrated the Canadian consciousness in the way it should; as an issue of fundamental national importance in the era of RCMP surveillance and Bill-C51. What is happening here is a frightening prelude to what we may face society wide in Canada. I sincerely hope that Canadian Journalists for Free Expression will take the lead in bringing this issue the national attention it requires. To enforce the urgency of this matter I would call your attention to the fact that on December 18th an under cover officer pulled his charged firearm on unarmed demonstrators.
(*Authors note: The CJFE has shown amazing support for Journalists in Montréal and continues to do so)
I have categorized the report as follows:
Physical assault In the last 5 years in Montreal assaults on Journalists have become common practice. This includes constantly having “less than lethal”weapons often fired directly at us, pepper spray, and direct physical assault.
Arrest Members of the media have been repeatedly arrested and processed under the P-6 bylaw or 500.1 of the QC highway code. This has been done with the direct intent of preventing coverage of their actions.
Blocking/ denying access Police have repeatedly blocked media access, pushing as back hundreds of meters to enforce their “security zone”. They deliberately use their vehicles to block filming or pictures even from that distance.
Profiling The police have repeatedly profiled certain media outlets as being “trouble makers” and have openly blocked their access to any event.
Intimidation There has been an attempt by the police to intimidate members of the media by following them outside media events, using the journalists full name or other personal info, there have also been many direct threats of arrest or physical harm delivered by individual officers. Conclusion
I have concentrated on recent examples with some historical context. Full testimony’s and more historical video Annex 1