Canadian police arrest journalists covering pipeline construction

Two Canadian journalists were arrested, along with over a dozen protesters, on Friday Nov. 19 by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) while covering the Indigenous protest on Wet’suwet’en land against the Coastal GasLink pipeline in British Columbia.

Amber Bracken, a photojournalist who was on assignment for The Narwhal, and Michael Toledano, a documentary filmmaker with a focus on Indigenous and environmental stories, were detained for the entire weekend.

The Canadian Association of Journalists (CAJ) called for their immediate release on Friday. These two arrests come just after the CAJ and other media outlets won a court challenge at the Supreme Court against the RCMP in July, with the judge ruling the police cannot interfere with journalistic coverage of the protests without indicating an operational reason for blocking the media’s access.

Detaining two journalists for covering an event is a violation of press freedom in Canada. 

In an open letter, multiple media companies have urged the Minister of Public Safety Marco Mendicino and the Liberal party to hold the RCMP accountable for multiple breaches of press freedom rights, but even with overwhelming support for journalists, there needs to be more done to provide oversight for the RCMP.