Why Are Canadian Police Targeting Journalists?

Why Are Canadian Police Targeting Journalists?
by: Jeremiah Vandermeer

Is this Canada or China?

In two separate instances last week, Canadian police targeted journalists in unusual arrests and detainments.

The first is the alarming case of Channel M television cameraman Ricky Tong, who witnessed a police shoot-out at a gas station in Vancouver. Tong, who was driving by and started rolling the camera when he heard gunshots, was whisked away by police in a commandeered Coast Mountain bus and held captive until he would surrender his video footage.

Dianne Collins, news director at Channel M television, wrote a letter to The Province calling the incident “an outrage”.

Collins said police demanded the cameraman’s tape, but Tong told them they would have to get a warrant. The Police told him it would take four hours to get a warrant, “meaning the tape would not make it to Channel M’s evening news.”

“In effect, the police were holding Channel M’s employee and the tape hostage,” she told the paper. “At the end of the day, Channel M ended up negotiating with the police to keep material that was rightfully ours.”

In a separate but equally disturbing incident, CBC cameraman Don Scott was arrested, held for four hours, and then charged with obstructing a police officer after filming a police incident in a Winnipeg residential area. According to the CBC ,

“He and reporters happened to be in the area following a different story.

When police began arriving, the cameraman began rolling. Police instructed him to turn off the camera, then moved in, said CBC reporter Gosia Sawicka.

‘The officer started driving towards us in his cruiser, and then he got out, confiscated the camera, and before I knew it, my cameraman was in handcuffs in the back of a cruiser,’ Sawicka said.

Several hours later, the cameraman was formally charged with obstructing a peace officer and released.

CBC regional director John Bertrand said he had big concerns about the incident.

‘By all accounts, the CBC staff that were involved in this were acting completely appropriately,’ he said.

‘They were on public property, in essence a street, shooting an event that was public activity. They were doing nothing, that I can see, that was improper or illegal.’”

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