CJFE Newsletter: June/July 2013

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

By Amy Johnson

Dear CJFE members and supporters,

With some of the summer’s top international news stories centred on issues of public assembly, digital privacy rights, and whistleblowing, freedom of expression is at the top of mind. As ever, the CJFE team has been hard at work monitoring and defending free expression rights in Canada and abroad – so much that it’s difficult to chart everything we’ve been working on! Here goes:

On the international advocacy front, we have published web features on free expression in Iran and China, as well as issued urgent alerts on violations of this fundamental human right in Tunisia, Bahrain, and Southeast Asia. In an alert related to the government’s harsh treatment of journalists covering public protests in Turkey, CJFE spoke out against the arrest of two CBC correspondents Saša Petricic and Derek Stoffel, who were detained from June 12-13 for covering the demonstrations in Istanbul.

In our Canadian-focused work, we have introduced an outreach initiative to professors at university and colleges across the country, offering complimentary hard copies of the 2013 CJFE Review of Free Expression in Canada as a teaching aid in their classes. This was made possible through the support of The Globe and Mail and Transcontinental, so please contact me if you would like to know more about receiving copies of the Review. We’ve also been busy planning an upcoming collaboration with the Art Gallery of Ontario: together, CJFE and the AGO will host a multi-media event on October 2 to honour the Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei and his exhibition Ai Weiwei: According to What? which will run from August 17 - October 27, 2013. Tickets for the event will be available for purchase on July 15, so look out for more details about this event!

In addition to keeping our blog regularly updated with items such as our weekly #FollowFridays and posts to honour National Aboriginal Day and World Refugee Day, here’s what else CJFE has been up to (with lots more to come!):

What happened in May/June

Annual General Meeting: CJFE’s AGM was held on June 6 at the NOW Lounge in Toronto, and was followed by the public event, Canadian Science in Crisis: Research, Responsibility and the Right to Speak. Canadian climatologist Dr. Gordon McBean joined Anna Maria Tremonti for a discussion on the links between free expression and climate change research in Canada. Check out our summary of the event, including video footage. Thank you to everyone who attended!
CJFE responds to arrest of Toronto Star Photographer: Following the June 2 arrest of Star journalist Alex Consiglio after he photographed an injured GO Transit officer outside of Union Station, members of CJFE’s Canadian Issues Committee began a dialogue with transit agency Metrolinx following our public statement condemning his apprehension and the expectation that reporters must obtain permission to take photos on station grounds
IFEX General Meeting and Strategy Conference in Cambodia: CJFE was represented by our President and IFEX Council member Arnold Amber, CJFE Executive Director Annie Game, and Web and Social Media Editor Laura Tribe at the IFEX GM in Phnom Penh from June 17-20. Stay tuned for updates from Laura, who facilitated a session on digital tools and co-chaired the Journalist in Distress Network discussion, as well as other blog highlights from the GM
2013-14 Scotiabank/CJFE Journalism Fellowship Winner publicized: On June 13, we were pleased to announce that reporter José Peralta of Uruguay was awarded this year’s Latin American Journalist in Residency Fellowship at Massey College. Read more about José and the Fellowship here
Ontario lays groundwork for new anti-SLAPP legislation: CJFE welcomed the Ontario government’s move to strengthen protection against legal harassment for citizens and groups who speak out on public issues. Quebec is currently the only other province with a similar law

What's coming up in July

Weighing In on the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP): CJFE will explore the impact Canada’s involvement this international trade agreement will have on our digital freedoms in a feature article tied to the second discussion in our digital event series (see “events we’re looking forward to” for more!)
A Legal Reckoning of Quebec’s 2012 “Maple Spring” protests: keep an eye out for our analysis of where the 2012 student demonstrations landed Quebec in terms of public assembly rights and free expression
Journalists in Distress and the limbo of asylum: We’ll be running a feature article on how emergency aid for imperiled journalists is just one step in the often long, expensive, and complicated course to freedom

Events we're looking forward to

July-August, CJFE’s digital event series: this summer, our Digital Issues Committee will continue its series of online events discussing pressing online issues relating to free expression in Canada. Check out the liveblog from our first event on March 12 concerning privacy, and watch the website for news about the upcoming event
July 11-13, l’Association de la presse francophone (APF) Annual Congress and Awards Gala: the AFP’s 2013 annual conference in Whitehorse, YT will bring together French-language publications to celebrate the best in francophone print media and exchange ideas and strategies