Police harassment undermines press freedom


Journalists across the country have been threatened, arrested, removed, or denied access by the police while trying to do their job of reporting the news.

Journalist Brandi Morin was the latest high-profile case. Morin was arrested on January 10 while conducting interviews at a homeless encampment in Edmonton. The obstruction charges brought were dropped on March 1.

Morin’s editor at Ricochet Media, Ethan Cox, told The Canadian Press that the decision to forego charges against his reporter was a victory for press freedom in Canada.

“I’m just so relieved,” Morin said after news that the charges had been dropped. “I was present to report, and I did nothing more or less than my job. It’s gratifying to see the Crown finally acknowledge that I did nothing wrong.”

She said the experience has had an impact on her reporting, and for the time being she is being far more cautious.

Morin was arrested while conducting interviews at an encampment. When police demanded she leave the area, Morin said she was a journalist and had a right to be there. The police then arrested her, detained her for five hours and charged her with obstruction.

“This amounts to a kind of harassment against journalists to prevent them from reporting on police activities,” Cox told CBC.

Meanwhile, in B.C., photojournalist Amber Bracken has launched a civil lawsuit against the RCMP for her arrest and four days in jail while she was on assignment for The Narwhal in the Wet’suwet’en territory in November, 2021.She and Michael Toledano—a filmmaker working for the CBC—were invited by the Wet’suwet’en to cover the pipeline conflict.

“We are not filing this lawsuit for ourselves, but to clear a path for all journalists in Canada to do their work without police interference,” said Emma Gilchrist, co-founder of the Narwhal at a news conference in February 2023.