Arrest of reporter Brandi Morin alarming for Canadian news democracy

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Unifor condemns the arrest of journalist Brandi Morin, calling on authorities to drop all charges as she heads into her next court date on March 1, 2024.

Morin, an award-winning journalist and author, was arrested Jan. 10, 2024, while covering people living in an encampment as the Edmonton police cleared the under-housed people out. 

She was arrested for not sticking to the exclusion zone police had set up for reporters.

Morin’s arrest and subsequent charges directly undermine press freedom in Canada and is extremely concerning.

According to Women Press Freedom, since 2019, almost 70 Canadian women journalists have faced harassment or intimidation for doing their jobs, including smear campaigns, online harassment and assaults while at work.

The union believes the treatment of Canadian journalists and media workers needs to be supported by all political leadership in this country and the government has a responsibility to ensure police comply with the laws of democracy.

Journalists and media should not be obstructed for doing their jobs, but respected, supported and protected.

When reporters are unable to do their jobs, it can lead to censorship and a chill in news coverage and can result in fewer important stories published and broadcast.

Furthermore, the union is calling out the racist online harassment Morin is now facing on social media.

In the face of increasing harassment of journalists and media workers online and in-person, made worse by polarizing politics and the anonymity of social media, Unifor launched the Help is Here website to allow journalists and media workers to get the support they need when they need it.

Just last week, Morin – an Indigenous writer from Treaty 6 territories in Alberta – won this year’s Freedom to Read Award by the Writers’ Union of Canada.

Storytelling is a right. Silencing such talented and fastidious journalists erodes democracy, one arrest at a time.