World Press Freedom Day

By: The Hon. Marty Klyne

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Hon. Marty Klyne: Honourable senators, yesterday, May 3, was the thirtieth anniversary of World Press Freedom Day. To mark it, a number of other Parliamentarians and I attended the annual press freedom day luncheon, where we had the pleasure of hearing important words from journalists and news executives about online harassment facing women and marginalized journalists.

I must say, though, that I use the word “pleasure” advisedly, given the stresses, bullying and intimidation our colleagues in the media are currently facing. As many are aware, online harassment and threats against journalists have reached an all‑time high in this country, with many members of the press enduring regular hatred, racism, sexism, misogyny and other abusive messaging. Some have even been physically attacked and blackmailed with threats of violence against their families.

This unacceptable behaviour takes place despite the fact that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees freedom of the press. We all know what takes place in nations that don’t have protections such as those that the charter provides.

Ideally, all should engage in respectful dialogue online and in person with the news and members of the media. We should and we can do better because an attack on press freedom in this country is an attack on our right to know.

According to Reporters Without Borders, a new world record of 533 journalists were detained in 2022, 57 were killed, 65 were held hostage and 49 are still missing. Our thoughts are with American reporter Evan Gershkovich, who has been imprisoned in Russia since late March for doing his job to bring news to the world out of an authoritarian state.

These abuses are taking place as news organizations struggle with how to cope with challenges brought about by the ever‑evolving digital world. At a time when we need them most, we see more and more outlets forced to close or cut back on staff.

The protection of press freedom in our country is in large part dependent on a strong media infrastructure supporting a wide array of practitioners of the craft. We need more voices, not fewer.

In closing, I wish to thank Canadian journalists and journalists around the world for their hard work and dedication to truth, transparency and accountability. Press freedom is a bedrock of our democracy and needs to be protected.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.

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