“Journalists perform an essential civic function, a big part of which involves chronicling government decisions and those who make them, so voters can hold elected representatives to account. … Thankfully, we have public officials such as Mr. Dubé (Ontario’s Ombudsman) on hand to remind everyone of the truth.” – from a Globe and Mail editorial, published on the newspaper’s main editorial page on July 20th, 2018
Posted by Doug Draper in Niagara At Large, July 21st, 2018
Globe Editorial: Ontario’s ombudsman stands up for press freedom
“Last December, municipal officials in Ontario’s Niagara region issued a statement apologizing for the “inconvenience” caused to a reporter who was expelled from an unruly council meeting and had his laptop confiscated.
Ontario’s Ombudsman on Thursday described the episode more accurately: not as a mere inconvenience, but as an egregious violation of the journalist’s rights.
“My investigation confirmed that the Regional Municipality of Niagara acted unreasonably, wrongly and without legal justification when it expelled a journalist from municipal property and seized his personal property during a council meeting,” Paul Dubé wrote in his report on the affair.
The incident was touched off after a council session was declared in-camera in order to discuss a report on an ethics complaint against a councillor.
Journalists exited the room; a citizen blogger, who had stepped out previously to use the washroom, unwittingly left behind the device he uses to record proceedings. When the recorder was discovered, Mr. Dubé writes, “chaos ensued.”
In the hubbub, police were called, St. Catharines Standard reporter Bill Sawchuk’s laptop – which councillors speculated, with no evidence, could also be secretly and illegally recording the closed session – was seized by municipal officials, and both Mr. Sawchuk and the blogger were forcibly expelled from the building.
Mistakes happen, and people sometimes overreact. But this incident would be easier to forgive if Niagara’s regional administration was prepared to fully accept its gravity. Mr. Dubé isn’t satisfied that it has, writing “the region should do more to recognize the seriousness of its actions.” That includes making formal and personal apologies to the reporter and the blogger.
Journalists perform an essential civic function, a big part of which involves chronicling government decisions and those who make them, so voters can hold elected representatives to account.
It’s in vogue for political partisans to heap scorn on the “fake news media.” On Thursday, U.S. President Donald Trump made an umpteenth reference to journalists as “enemies of the people.”
Thankfully, we have public officials such as Mr. Dubé on hand to remind everyone of the truth.”
For a link to this Globe and Mail editorial, click on – https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/editorials/article-globe-editorial-ontarios-ombudsman-stands-up-for-press-freedom/ .
One final note from Niagara At Large reporter and publisher Doug Draper –
Along with The New York Times, Washington Post, Boston Globe and some others, The Globe and Mail in Canada is one of the best newspapers we still have in the democratic world. Never mind getting all or most of your information from FACEBOOK and TWITTER. That is dangerous. Be a responsible and informated citizens and READ NEWSPAPERS!
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