Excerpted from The Narwhal : Fairy Creek, the RCMP and a win for press freedom 21/7/22
The RCMP imposed restrictions on journalists seeking to report on arrests in “exclusion zones” set up by police to enforce a Teal-Jones injunction against protesters fighting old-growth logging on Vancouver Island. The RCMP also provided incorrect information to both journalists and the court about the conflict.
Justice Douglas Thompson concluded in his ruling that the RCMP failed to justify its “extensive” exclusion zones. The RCMP, he wrote, must “keep in mind the media’s special role in a free and democratic society, and the necessity of avoiding undue and unnecessary interference with the journalistic function.”
The ruling confirms the right to know what’s happening when a police force conducts mass arrests at the site of a major conflict and reinforces the right to see what’s happening on that scene, through the eyes of journalists.
“This is, without question, a watershed moment in the history of Canadian press freedom advocacy.”
Brent Jolly, president of the Canadian Association of Journalists, after a coalition of journalism organizations won a court victory over the RCMP’s actions at the Fairy Creek logging blockades.