TORONTO, September 29, 2021 / CNW / – The Canadian Association of Journalists (ACJ) is calling for swift and decisive action by authorities in response to a recent wave of targeted threats against several Canadian journalists.
Last week, Maxime Bernier, the leader of the People’s Party of Canada, publicly urged his supporters to Twitter for “playing dirty” with reporters soliciting comment on the party’s ties to the far right. Bernier specifically targeted three Canadian journalists by publicly sharing their email addresses on the social media platform. In response, Twitter proceeded with the suspension Bernier’s account for a period of 12 hours.
Over the past week, dozens of other reporters, many of whom are women and / or journalists of color, have been inundated with intimidating emails and posts on social media with threats of violence, sexual assault, harassment and death. In order to ensure their safety, journalists had to scour the Internet to make sure their personal information was not available.
“Efforts to intimidate reporters by asking tough and serious questions are a tactic ripped straight from the pages of the bossy playbook,” says Brent Jolly, president of the CAJ. “The messages to journalists and editors are absolutely vile, deplorable and utterly unacceptable. We stand firmly behind our members in these trying times.”
The CAJ is aware that several articles of the Criminal Code prohibit the deliberate promotion of hatred. For this reason, we urge the RCMP and other law enforcement agencies to immediately launch investigations.
Earlier this year, the Department of Canadian Heritage announced that he would engage in efforts to confront – and combat – what is known as “online damage”. In light of the events that unfolded over the past week, the CAJ looks forward to having the opportunity to submit a thesis to this consultation, recounting the recent wave of hatred against its members.
The CAJ has been alerted to an increase in the number of cases where journalists have been unscrupulously targeted for simply doing their job. The CAJ acknowledges that at present there is currently no centralized means of tracking threats and harassment. It is for this reason that the CAJ is partnering with CBC and several journalistic organizations to launch the online survey on the harms of journalism. We ask all members to participate as soon as possible.
In journalism, criticism is expected; harassment and hate messages are not. In the near future, the CAJ will also launch a social media consultation process to offer guidelines to all newsrooms on how best to support and protect journalists. The CAJ also encourages any journalist victim of such attacks to contact any member of the board of directors if they do not feel safe.
“These are coordinated campaigns that seek to undermine press freedom,” Jolly explains. “It is a disturbing reality to be a journalist at Canada has become a dangerous profession. That is why we look forward to working with news outlets and others in the coming days to ensure that the safety and security of journalists is protected – and that these perpetrators of hatred are held accountable. “
The CAJ is from Canada largest national professional organization for journalists of all media, representing over 1000 members across the country. The primary roles of the CAJ are to provide high quality professional development to its members and to advocate for the public interest.
SOURCE Canadian Association of Journalists
For further information: Brent Jolly, President, Canadian Association of Journalists, (289) 387-3179, [email protected]