CJFE Troubled that Activist Denied Entry to Canada

Monday, February 8, 2010

In an echo of the treatment of American journalist and activist Amy Goodman, an American activist and part-time reporter was denied entry to Canada after flying into Canada on Saturday, February 6.

Martin Macias Jr, an outspoken critic of the Olympics who also took part in protests around Chicago's bid for the Olympic Games, was pulled aside by custom officials at the Vancouver airport. His travel companion and fellow activist Bob Quellos was allowed to continue, but Macias was questioned for over two hours by customs officials. Macias says he was accused of withholding information and given a choice: leave Canada voluntarily or face detention until facing trial which would be a week away.

Macias' plans had been to attend Vancouver rallies and protests leading up to the start of the Games. He says he was asked about the event organizers, who he was staying with and what they were wearing, during the interrogation.

"Canada should not be trying to keep critics out of the country," says CJFE Board member and journalist Kelly Toughill. "The Olympics should be a showcase for our belief in free speech, not an example of its repression."

CJFE launched an "Olympic Watch" on January 18 in response to several incidents where free expression has come under threat in relation to the Winter Olympics. One of those incidents involved Democracy Now! Host Amy Goodman who was stopped at the Canadian border in November 2009 on her way to Vancouver. She was interrogated for several hours, her vehicle was searched and time limits were put on her stay.

CJFE urges Canadian officials to respect fundamental rights including the right to free expression and the right of peaceful assembly.