UPDATE: Given the recent Muslim ban in the United States, a National Day of Action against Islamophobia and White Supremacy has been scheduled for February 4th. So this National Day of Action to #ProtectPressFreedom, organized by the CJFE, has now been moved to February 25th.
The rally to support Ben Makuch will still be going ahead on February 6th in Toronto.
Remember that time Pierre Trudeau told the world "just watch me" back in the day? You can be assured we'll be watching Prime Minister Justin Trudeau -- and we'll be watching closely. The time has come to not only write a new chapter in the history of the Liberal party, but Canadian history as well.
The reason? Well, in March of last year, an Ontario court order ruled that VICE News reporter Ben Makuch hand over to the RCMP all communications between himself and a private journalistic source. Unsurprisingly, VICE appealed the court order, and are now poised for the fast-approaching hearing, set to happen on Monday, February 6 in Toronto (make sure to join the rally if you're in town!)
You may recall similar, recent press freedom violations in Quebec at the end of last year, such as the intercepted communications of La Presse columnist Martin Patrick Lagacé and six other journalists, as well as the seizure of Journal de Montréal reporter Michael Nguyen's laptop.
There's an undeniable pattern at play here. Similar cases of spying on journalists have yet to come to light, but suspicions of spying are abundant. According to the executive director of the Fédération professionnelle des journalistes du Québec what we see here is just the "the tip of the iceberg."
In light of Ben Makuch's decision to fight the RCMP's order, which will have major implications on the future of journalism in our country, CJFE has partnered with VICE and other coalition members to put together a national day of action on Press Freedom, also known as #ProtectPressFreedom. The purpose of this day will be to ask the government to:
1. End mass surveillance.
2. Repeal Bill C-51.
3. Create a 'shield law' to protect journalists from the type of abuses outlined above.
Where you come in
February 4th is the national day of action and associated actions will be happening across the country. At each gathering, you are encouraged to join with freedom of expression supporters in your local community and form into or create an eye shape (e.g. using other objects) between two banners that say: "Trudeau: We're Watching You" and "#ProtectPressFreedom." The activity can be completed by as little as one or two people, or as many as a couple hundred people. It looks like this:
Then take a picture and post it on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #ProtectPressFreedom on February 4. This will send a strong, visual message that our politicians won't be able to ignore.
So far, three major events are happening in Vancouver, Toronto and Saint John's, so if you are in any of those cities make sure to attend! Alternatively, you can email CJFE to arrange to host your own event. Here's a simple guide to doing so and there are multiple ways to go about it, so get creative!
Other ways to show your support
If you're unable to join or host an in person event, you can also:
Lobby your MP (Guide)
Why? Lobbying your MP can have a big impact as they are there to listen to your concerns and represent your best interests. But first, you need to let them know what your interests are. If you haven't done this before, check out this short 5 step guide for lobbying success. It's easier than you think and it makes a difference!
Take action online (Simple, quick and effective!)
The outcome of both of these days will set a strong precedent for the future of our civil liberties, privacy rights and press freedom so it’s essential that we stand together and that we stand strong. We'll see you there!
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Image: Flickr/John McCallum