Canadian media refuses to attend Press Freedom scrum after Liberal minister denies access to two conservative journalists
In a rare moment of media solidarity, Canadian news outlets threatened to boycott a press conference with Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland at the Global Conference for Media Freedom: London 2019 after the only two conservative journalists present were denied access to the scrum.
According to several accounts, reporters Andrew Lawton from True North, and Sheila Gunn Reid from The Rebel, were the only two Canadians barred from a media availability event with Minister Freeland.
The conference which was co-hosted by Canada and the U.K. was advertised as an event seeking to promote press freedom around the world.
“The Global Conference for Media Freedom is part of an international campaign to shine a global spotlight on media freedom and increase the cost to those who are attempting to restrict it,” wrote a press release by Global Affairs Canada.
Before the press conference, journalists who were interested in attending to ask questions were told to report to Freeland’s press secretary and assemble in the foyer ahead of the event. Both Lawton and Gunn Reid were present among a number of other Canadian outlets including, CBC, CTV News, The Globe and Mail and Global News.
According to accounts, Freelands’s press secretary told the crowd that space was limited and some people might be excluded from attending.
“After her leaving and returning a few times, she finally came back and asked reporters and camera operators from CBC, CTV, Al Jazeera, Global and the Globe and Mail to follow her,” said Lawton.
“One of them asked her what about the rest. She replied by saying anyone else would have to stay behind. It was only Sheila Gunn Reid from the Rebel and I from True North who were excluded.”
The Post Millennial reached out to Global Affairs Canada for comment on the incident and the reasoning behind the decision to exclude the only two conservative reporters there but had not heard back by the time this article was published.
After it was discovered that the only conservative journalists present would be excluded from a press freedom conference with Freeland, the reporters present “unanimously” agreed to boycott the event until everybody could be allowed.
“The mainstream media, in particular CTV, lead the charge to boycott the press conference if any of us were cut from the press conference with the minister,” said Gunn Reid.
“We all watched Freeland talk about how it is a journalists right to ask hard questions to politicians in people in power in several plenary sessions this week, and yet when given the chance to put her own promises into practice, she failed.”
Currently, Canada is ranked 18th on the 2019 World Press Freedom Index by Reporters Without Borders only one space ahead of Urugay.
“The Liberal’s understanding of press freedom is that it only applies to those who will give favourable coverage to them; the sorts of coverage and “helpful op-eds” that Katie Telford knew she could elicit from a compliant media,” said Gunn Reid.