RCMP denial of journalists' access to protest site frightening,' says press freedom advocate - APTN NewsAPTN News

RCMP denial of journalists’ access to protest site frightening,’ says press freedom advocate

RCMP shut down an access road and barred media from passing while the police’s paramilitary and tactical units raided the Gidimt’en camp. Photo: Kathleen Martens/APTN.

Justin Brake
A Canadian press freedom advocate says the RCMP’s denial of media access to an important story in B.C. Monday is both “frightening” and “chilling”.

Police blocked an access road outside Houston, B.C. Monday in preparation to enforce a court injunction against camps set up by members of the Unist’ot’en house and Gidimt’en clan of the Wet’suwet’en Nation who were resisting an LNG pipeline slated to run through their unceded territory.

Media who were not already on the other side of the police road block, including APTN News and a CBC TV crew from Vancouver, were turned away.

NDP MP Nathan Cullen was also prohibited from accessing the site.

“It sounds like the RCMP is once again using every tactic that they can to bend the law as much as possible to prevent journalists from gaining access to sites,” says Tom Henheffer, vice president of Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE).

“This is a tactic that is very commonly employed and is very difficult to fight against in the moment because [police] know that when you’ve got a bunch of officers with guns telling people what they can and cannot do, it doesn’t necessarily matter whether the law is on the RCMP’s side or not — because it takes too long for a journalist to get a lawyer, go to court to get an order to allow them to get on to the site.”

APTN News was told by an officer they were barred because of safety concerns during the police operation and could be arrested and charged with obstruction if they tried to pass the checkpoint to do their jobs.

APTN observed that while reporters were barred, company workers were allowed to pass through the checkpoint.

Not long after a convoy of RCMP vehicles carrying members of the tactical and paramilitary arms arrived at the remote site around 10 a.m., the social media feeds of journalists at the Gidimt’en camp went silent.

Joanna Chiu, deputy bureau chief at The Star Vancouver, tweeted that she hadn’t heard from reporters Jesse Winter and Perrin Grauer.

“RCMP told me communications have ‘been cut’ in the [Unist’ot’en Camp] area and blame a satellite issue, denying RCMP had anything to do with it.”

The Twitter feeds of CBC reporter Chantelle Bellrichard also went silent. As did that of Sawyer Bogdan, a reporter with local radio station The Moose.

The RCMP said they had nothing to do with the disruption of communication from inside the Gidimt’en camp at the same time as they were raiding it. Photo: Kathleen Martens/APTN.

In a statement released Monday evening an RCMP spokesperson said the police had nothing to do with the sudden, timely disruption of communications.

“The area is extremely remote and even police had limited access to communication,” writes Cpl. Madonna Sanderson of “E” Division Communication Services.

Miles Howe, a former journalist who covered the RCMP’s 2013 raid of Mi’kmaq land defenders at Elsipogtog and now studies police tactics used against Indigenous protests says by prohibiting reporters from accessing the site, the RCMP get to gain more control over the public narrative while removing Indigenous people from their lands in order to facilitate resource extraction.

“Limiting press access to a site where the enforcement of an injunction is about to go down restricts any possible counter-narrative other than the one that the police will inevitably present,” Howe said.

“There’s nothing risky about an independent and free media in Canada. In fact, the risk in my opinion presents itself when the opposite happens.”

On Monday Public Safety said it would not be commenting on the RCMP’s media exclusion zone because it is an “operational matter”.


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57 Responses to “RCMP denial of journalists’ access to protest site frightening,’ says press freedom advocate”

  1. jdv@nbnet.nb.ca'
    W. J. Dunlap January 14, 2019 at 9:35 pm #

    This article is a bit swayed for effect. The pipeline route has already been approved by the people involved, the protesters, 14 in all, were trying to stop a most important delivery line for natural gas, without it, Canada would be sorely affected and would be deprived of huge amounts of income. It is my belief that the protest is phoney and that the protesters are merely looking to get more money out of the government to shut them up.

    • kaskawolf1@hotmail.com'
      CATHERINE January 18, 2019 at 12:55 am #

      You need to educate yourself on all aspects of this because your comments are inept, unless the proposed pipeline is going right through Witset , the former chief and council have no say !

  2. Kittycat1990@shaw.ca'
    M. Anderson January 11, 2019 at 4:36 pm #

    The police comment about a satellite problem doesn’t ring true. Twitter and other smart phone services stream through the cellular network, which is ground based. No satellites involved. The RCMP have blanket authority to use jamming systems when they believe public safety is an issue.

    • tricawa@hotmail.com'
      Patricia Stowe January 17, 2019 at 1:56 am #

      That could be wrong. I can be in my backyard and not be able to get service on my cellphone, so not being able to get a signal in the wilds of Canada…. I can see that happening.

  3. tuc@telus.net'
    Laurie Prak January 10, 2019 at 11:02 pm #

    For crowd control and more, I totally accept the RCMP decision. They need to do their job and keep themselves and everyone already in that area safe.

    • patparsons1@gmail.com'
      Pat January 11, 2019 at 11:27 pm #

      YES and if the RCMP and military has more nefarious plans it will end up the police against first nations with no press there to make sure the truth is represented.

  4. johnnygagnon.28@hotmail.com'
    Johnny Gagnon January 10, 2019 at 3:59 am #

    RCMP are not what they or Canada claims them to be , they are enforcers for both corporate and mob (monkey business) affiliated interests for Every and Any big dollar “political” – “society” ‘s interests , matters pertaining to democratic social or individual justice and truth are permanently undermined by political gangland style back room bureaucracy , that’s not what Canada and We The People Canadians s t a n d f o r !

    • Straightnose@hotmail.com'
      Gerald January 16, 2019 at 5:35 am #

      Have the rcmp turned into gorilla’s?as in gorilla warfare,gonna go in and ambush these protesters who are only trying to protect mother earth,gorillas carrying the government’s demands to remove so they can get their oil thru for almighty dollar,never mind the water, animals,trees plants and all nature that will be affected by this pipeline,no media yet they allow media along side soldiers in Afghanistan where there is actual daily gun battle something dont sound rite,to me a few dead protesters who the rcmp(gorillas)will they(protesters)fired first,the what a inquiry for our dead protesters this is what I see as the end result of this no media allowed.

  5. dcontois2017@outlook.com'
    Dennis Contois January 10, 2019 at 2:39 am #

    “In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act”.
    -George Orwell (1984)

    • Bernard837@gmail.com'
      Bj Webb January 11, 2019 at 3:18 pm #

      Thank you! When the truth comes out and when justice comes there will be freedom for Unist’ot’en

  6. Donnamcpoop@hotmail.com'
    Donna January 10, 2019 at 1:34 am #

    Police exist to protect the system and the status quo. Dont ever think that their purpose is to protect you and your rights. The frightened elite pay their salaries with our money and cower behind walls made off of the wealth created from our sweat. Then they sh*t all over us all when we stand up and point out the truth.

  7. barkerletter@gmail.com'
    Kevin Barker January 10, 2019 at 1:19 am #

    Boy, they really dropped their mask. Injunction or no, there is no legal basis for the RCMP to block press access to the site. Canada is a police state. You cops don’t own these streets…

  8. justbeinme71@gmail.com'
    Sherry January 9, 2019 at 7:22 pm #

    What can we the public do to get the truth out there. Why is it only the RCMP can spread the lies they choose to tell yet our truth can never be told until its too late?
    Sherry (I’m white) I disagree with everything the RCMP stands for. Only because they’ve forced me to. They cannot be trusted.

    • wrfish@telus.net'
      Wayne January 9, 2019 at 9:44 pm #

      Our elected govt allows the RCMP to do pretty much what they like.

    • turni1@telus.net'
      IB T January 9, 2019 at 10:48 pm #

      This article is about 20 years out of date. There is no shortage of video, pictures, actual attendees input. But not the media’s interpretation and sound biting of the situation. I have learned more on facebook than I have reading the media reporting which only reports half the story.

    • johnnygagnon.28@hotmail.com'
      Johnny Gagnon January 10, 2019 at 3:46 am #

      RCMP associates with both the legal business corporate people and illegal mafia therefore they are wishy washy in matters of law , morals and ethics

      • geeval52@hotmail.com'
        V Gee January 11, 2019 at 7:08 am #

        Wow. I am so disallussioned with Canada;from what I thought we stood for growing up. now I am 65…so ashamed that the RCMP show so much disrespect for the aboriginals including the fact they don’t even bother to investigate the murders of those poor native women.

    • geeval52@hotmail.com'
      v gee January 11, 2019 at 7:13 am #

      I have lost respect for these RCMP for their intrusions upon the safety of the native peoples, including the fact they ignore the women murders etcetera!!!
      As a senior citizen of Canada, I Am Ashamed of the RCMP

  9. jayvbouchard@hotmail.com'
    John January 9, 2019 at 6:18 pm #

    The canadian government better smarten up before all us people do. The canadian people themselves can now see the wrong that has been going on with the dealings of first nation people. As the country grows our relatives are pushed aside and the government does as it feels fit. If all residents and natives stood together on one issue, im sure we could all live good and build this beautiful country together. The first nation people have to be involved in every issue. Its just wrong to see the rcmp arresting people at a peaceful protest. A protest which will protect the land of all the people in the future.

  10. mcguirefrank200@gmail.com'
    Frank McGuire January 9, 2019 at 4:10 pm #

    Shameful what the F**k is world coming too.

  11. crazzyjunior87@hotmail.com'
    Steven January 9, 2019 at 3:48 pm #

    What a crock of s… from them! If the media are banned for their safety then no way the worker should have been allowed in and that bit about the communications “suddenly, and conveniently being interrupted” having nothing to do with the RCMP sounds like something Trump would try to say

  12. Dawnquelch@gmail.com'
    Dawn Q January 9, 2019 at 11:31 am #

    The police are supposed to work for the people, not the corporations. Yes, they have to enforce the court order… but that gives them zero justification to ban the media and do it in secret. And APTN… drones are a couple hundred bucks. Get them on film, hold them accountable.

  13. josephas@copper.net'
    Joseph January 9, 2019 at 10:49 am #

    Why does this surprise anyone the RCMP is the “Strong” arm of the Government THe Toronto G20 was sad evidence of Dictatorial power asserted against the People and the RCMP was the controlling factor of the Police group during that trampling of Human Rights by the Conservatives re HARPER

  14. susannad@shaw.ca'
    Susanna Dokkie-McDonald January 9, 2019 at 5:43 am #

    What are they, the RCMP, MP and the PM hiding? What kind of manhandling are we not allowed to witness? Are tactics such as was used in South Dakota being deployed? Guarenteed that there is a satellite recording this. Really. What is the world not permitted to see?
    Trudeau is failing in his reconciliation methods and hiding his tactics by no allowing coverage is conflicting with his words. Words with no notable action is negative publicity.

    • Bernardwebb837@gmail.com'
      Bj webb January 11, 2019 at 3:21 pm #

      They even somehow got social media to block stuff, I saw posts vaporize on Facebook feeds. Everything is tainted with state control.

  15. georgieschaeff@gmail.com'
    Georgina Schaeff January 9, 2019 at 4:37 am #

    It is a sad day when the elite of Canadian police forces, the RCMP, breaks International law in front of the eyes of the world. Hopefully the U.N. will take note and they will have to explain their actions in an international court. I have totally lost any respect I have had for the RCMP. Not concerned with the missing indigenous women and now forcing natives off their land illegally makes the RCMP come across as the bullies and thugs they are. The fact our government is silent during all this is discerning.

  16. Ajones.ap55@gmail.com'
    Jones January 9, 2019 at 4:25 am #

    Remember when Alberta sold all those millions of barrels of oil over seas when it wasn’t even out of the ground yet, and those countries didn’t get there supply yet!.
    Now they want that pipeline more than ever because of that over due debt of oil that needs to be paid up!.
    And now the Feds and provinces will almost kill anyone in there way to try move that pipeline threw!
    And so the story keeps going on and on!.

  17. Woim29@gmail.com'
    Ryan January 9, 2019 at 4:00 am #

    Anyone who doesn’t live in BC shouldn’t even speak on the matter. A pipeline can go anywhere, go south thru Alberta and thru the States to the coast, we don’t want the possibility of poison going into the lands and damaging our natural resources. Would you build a sewage pipe thru your hot water bottle because someone said it would never break but will make everyone money? One leak and you’re bathing and drinking sewage but hey, it’s putting people to work so come on let us do it. So dumb. You take the chance with poison going thru your own water supply and land and THEN join in on the bandwagon but if it’s not affecting you then why not Shut the F up.

    • Outdoors_270@hotmail.com'
      Ben January 9, 2019 at 4:55 am #

      And meanwhile Victoria and Vancouver dump 10 billion litres of raw sewage into the ocean daily . Oil ang gas are all over the surface in remote areas of Bc Naturally and your not being poisoned .

    • Osd.oneshotdog@gmail.com'
      Fred January 9, 2019 at 3:48 pm #

      BC is continually streaming, dumping raw sewage into the ocean, how is that any different

    • Wolfmanjim1957@gmail.com'
      Jim brown January 9, 2019 at 4:53 pm #

      Feel free to further separate canadians …youre the reason the separatist movement is doing so well. If you feel youre entitled to your opinion…so is any other Canadian…which includes Canadas indigenous people

    • ljackson911@msn.com'
      Les Jackson January 9, 2019 at 8:56 pm #

      Speak for yourself sir, As a British Cloumbian, An Aboriginal and a northerner, I am pro-oil, pro LNG and pro-industry. Let me be clear, I’m for responsible resource management, and jobs!

    • whentheworldcoughs@protonmail.com'
      Hack January 10, 2019 at 1:57 am #

      If you have something to say, you’d be wise to get someone who has good editorial skill to go over your submission so that everyone knows what you are trying to say. It’s not too clear.

  18. iambrieyes@gmail.com'
    Brian Keyes January 9, 2019 at 3:23 am #

    They are special police.

  19. seeyre@gmail.com'
    SUSAN EYRE January 8, 2019 at 11:57 pm #

    A camera drone is needed ASAP please!

    • aleka9@yahoo.ca'
      Kara January 9, 2019 at 3:03 am #

      This is what I don’t like. The RCMP walk into our Native School introducing themselves at “Safe” people. When in fact this is happening. Violence does not solve anything. So if these same RCMP workers return to the town and are recognized by the children and their families are they supposed to feel safe? I was taught to do a job I believe in. a job to help the people. What a shame… so sad, so scary.

  20. ssaunders_5@yahoo.com'
    sheldon saunders January 8, 2019 at 11:52 pm #

    I’m all for letting the press in but these folks should not be blocking the path of prosperity because of their ignorance. Oil, jobs, taxes and money must flow or it will lead to social cutbacks and chaos.

    • Cameronwilse@gmail.com'
      Cam January 9, 2019 at 2:52 am #

      They are putting this pipeline thru land they do not own. The territory they ran us out of with machine guns is on land that no treaty was ever agreed upon

      • merlin3047@hotmail.com'
        John Swift January 9, 2019 at 4:58 am #

        According to FN claims there is no land owned by Canada. Makes having a country problematic

    • RonnieAllDayLong@hotmail.com'
      Ronald McDonald January 9, 2019 at 6:18 am #

      Omg how Many times were you dropped on your head as an infant to buy into that sh*t

    • grownjohnboy@yahoo.ca'
      guyintheHudsonBaycoat January 9, 2019 at 11:14 am #

      I cannot abide your logic Mr. Saunders and not reply. On the subject of ignorance I think you have insulted the people you are remarking about. Calling them ignorant Mr. Saunders is both rude and wrong. Mr. Saunders your closing fear mongering remark is laughable. Your thoughts on jobs, taxes and money from oil is too late for this World. The greasers are like big tobacco goons. We all know oil in the environment is wrong. Mr Saunders do you want oil in your environment? I can assure you I do not. I can assure you that this incident has not been well handled and it is going to stop right now until it is understood that “no means no” here in this lovely place where a pipeline does not belong.

    • Corrinasmiley@gmail.com'
      Corrina January 9, 2019 at 2:14 pm #

      These people you’ve got some nerve…you people have been destroying the land since your nasty ships arrived …. prosperity my ass … We have a social poverty crisis in this country that never improves and they’ve been raping Alberta for decades ..nothings ever going to change don’t be so stupid. Idiot

  21. ken.alfrescohomes@gmail.com'
    Ken Lillejord January 8, 2019 at 11:34 pm #

    In order for the Press to be considered a Free Press, every media company MUST return all funds they receive from the Current Liberal Government. I believe in a Free Press, but I have not seen one for quite a few years, in Canada or in the USA.
    Whatever happened just to filming and reporting the news, and delivering the straight facts to the public. Now its all an opinion stream. I we Canadians wanted to watch a bunch of Reporters express their opinion, we would tune into a talk show.
    Whatever happened to Walter Cronkite and straight up news. His best opinion was with no words … when his tears streamed down right after the President was shot.
    The Canadian public generally no longer trusts what is being reported. Besides it always having a slanted to the Left viewpoint, real news is obviously being left out as it does not parallel the “message” the editors wish to deliver.
    Try reporting honest facts, without the syrupy high-minded opinions, and maybe, just maybe … the press can regain the trust.
    This is my opinion, about the press corp and media corporations in general, and how they have lost the respect of most listeners.
    Unfortunate, I used to be a news junky. But you all, as a group, have lost our respect.

  22. jimhunter1111@outlook.com'
    Jim Hunter January 8, 2019 at 9:39 pm #

    Why is the news media worried about not being aloud in, they write what ever they want to anyways. So, what is the difference if they go in or not.

  23. rggarson88@gmail.co'
    Robert Garson January 8, 2019 at 9:36 pm #

    Why then does the Government of Canada allow journalists to follow armed troops into battle, for example Afghanistan?

  24. frontlinemom@yahoo.com'
    Swaneagle Fitzgerald January 8, 2019 at 9:25 pm #

    Fascist colonizers want no documentation of genocidal acts! As bad as US police state!

  25. bernard2311@gmail.com'
    Bernie January 8, 2019 at 8:59 pm #

    some of the uniformed police were indistinguishable from soldiers in full combat gear,complete with machine guns ,getting physical with unarmed natives …..i’m ashamed of what has become of this country!

    • merlin3047@hotmail.com'
      John Swift January 9, 2019 at 5:00 am #

      They didn’t use the weapons and had them in case there were armed people there. One video I saw showed a FN guy grab and RCMP officer and pull him down off the barrier. I thought they showed great restraint.

  26. dawn-marie.451@hotmail.com'
    Dawn-Marie Deleary January 8, 2019 at 8:23 pm #

    The last line of this makes no sense. “On Monday Public Safety said it would not be commenting……. ????????

  27. chixiequill1980@gmail.com'
    Nadia Quill January 8, 2019 at 8:19 pm #

    This is so sad to see, my heart is breaking, #waterislife

  28. sjordan11@gmail.cm'
    s.j. January 8, 2019 at 7:46 pm #

    When the law enforcement in your country are the criminals.

    • robsant71963@gmaol.com'
      robertsantangelo January 9, 2019 at 12:10 am #

      agreed! this is a travesty! total criminal injustice! since when are the wealthy exempt from the law?

  29. sdaniel79.ca@gmail.com'
    Shaun January 8, 2019 at 7:37 pm #

    Those aren’t police…they”re corpirate-paid mercenaries

    • scorpmea@hotmail.com'
      Mea January 8, 2019 at 11:26 pm #

      Agreed 100%

  30. tree-eagle@gmail.com'
    Freeda January 8, 2019 at 6:46 pm #

    So much for freedom of speech.. my comment gets sensored just like those land defenders. Welcome to Chinada. Comming to your town next.

  31. Manyblackbirds@live.ca'
    Yvon Lamarche January 8, 2019 at 5:42 pm #

    Kinda makes a laughing stock of Canada’s “Democratic” Constitution and Charter of Rights. What we all witnessed here was an act of war no different from Russia annexing the Crimea Peninsula and Canada responding by applying sanctions against the Russian state. Looks like the Russians and their allies can respond in kind for Canada’s annexation of Wetsuwet’en and further in violation of UNDRIP. An Elder once told me that white people in general are so stupid because they think that just because something is written down on a white piece of paper it actually means something like the treaties. They can read but they do not understand what is written. A mouse can see the mouse trap but it does not u derstand it’s full meaning. My son who is a flint knapper (makes arrow heads from a chunk of flint) like in the days of old shares that he has noted from years of practice that the actual process of engaging in this traditional skill has altered his way of thinking and conceivably his brain structure. What we see before us today is clear evidence that Canada’s Constitution and all that this entails is nothing more than a pig with lipstick.

    • canadabaygal@gmail.com'
      PJ Wilson January 9, 2019 at 11:26 am #

      I cried when I saw the video this morning. I am ashamed of what our country is doing. I fail to understand why others cannot see the potential for disaster in their decision making. I also abhor the fact, that in order to achieve this pipeline, people are being forced from their homes. When the damage has been done there is no going back. Peace and reconciliation just flew out the window and once again corporate greed has the upper hand. A sad day for too many, and still more to come

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