Newsletter January 2015

Canada and the Caribbean Report

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Written by Debbie Ransome

Canadian journalists back new Bill

Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) has spoken out in support of Bill 52 – a new procedure which could be available in Ontario’s civil courts. CJFE said: ‘The Ontario government recently introduced Bill 52, the Protection of Public Participation Act. The Bill is designed to create a new procedure in civil litigation to help ensure that our courts are not used for bringing lawsuits to silence or deter people from speaking out on matters of public interest’. CJFE added: ‘If Bill 52 becomes law, there would be a new procedure available in Ontario’s civil courts. In particular, a defendant in a lawsuit could bring a special motion asking for the claim against them to be dismissed because of its impact on the freedom of expression in a matter of public interest’. For more on Bill 52, click here.

CAJ gets an apology from Federal department

An apology has been issued after the Canadian Association of Journalists (CAJ) questioned the blocking of an accredited news organisation from the online site dealing with Canadian federal activity. The site, Shared Services Canada, which is the federal department responsible for looking after IT and security, had barred online access to Blacklock’s Reporter, a parliamentary press gallery-accredited news organisation. Blacklock’s had then reported being issued with redacted documents. Blacklock’s distributes subscriber-based articles to public servants. Blacklock’s had complained that no national agency should be able to blacklist an accredited news site in the name of security or crime prevention. CAJ President Hugo Rodrigues said that Shared Services needed to explain to Blacklock’s how and why the ban had taken place. ‘Shared Services Canada never should have stopped anyone on the public payroll from lawfully reading Blacklock’s reporting….the department only rescinded the order after subscribers spoke up and journalists started asking questions,’ Mr Rodrigues said in a CAJ statement. Shared Services Canada responded stating that there had been a potential infrastructure threat on the Blacklock’s website, that the threat had been rectified and that access to Blacklock’s had been restored.

Veteran Grenadian Journalist dies

One of the journalists jailed during the upheavals which led to the US invasion of Grenada, Leslie Pierre, died on 21 December at the age of 86. He had been a founder member of the Press Association of Grenada and the Grenadian Voice newspaper. The Media Workers Association of Grenada said of him: ‘Indeed, when the history of modern day Grenadian journalism is written, there will be many chapters on the contribution of Mr Pierre, who was jailed in the early 1980s because he dared to defend the right for there to be a free press in Grenada’. Leslie Pierre’s work publishing Torchlight in the early 1980s led to his being imprisoned by the then People’s Revolutionary Government (PRG) of Maurice Bishop. Following the fall of the PRG and the US invasion, Leslie Pierre returned to his work in media, conservation, business association and mentoring in Grenada.

Photo credit: Brett Tatman / cc

About the author

Debbie Ransome

Editor, Caribbean Intelligence

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