Statement on UN World Press Freedom Day

May 03, 2019
OTTAWA — It’s been a deadly year for journalists. The Committee to Protect Journalists reports that 58 journalists died on assignment, and 37 of those were murdered. The brutal murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Kashoggi illustrates the impunity with which authoritarian governments operate, and the lengths they will go to silence dissenting voices. Media for Democracy: Journalism and Elections in Times of Disinformation is the theme of this year’s World Press Freedom Day.

“It’s no secret there are nefarious players in the business of global disinformation campaigns,” said Elizabeth May (MP, Saanich-Gulf Islands). “This is an election year, so it’s crucial that the government monitor closely these attempts to influence Canadian media, decision-makers and citizens. At the same time, we all have a responsibility to be discerning about what we read and share on social media platforms.”

A new report by the Macdonald-Laurier Institute, warns: “The Kremlin’s ability to interfere in democratic elections should be a concern. Canada currently ranks 18th in the 2019 World Press Freedom Index. The study voices concern that the 2017 merger of Canada’s two largest publishers risks compromising media diversity with the closing of many local community publications.”

“To counter the well funded threat from media manipulation, we must provide the resources and support that journalists here in Canada need to continue to do their job,” observed Green Party Deputy Leader Jo-Ann Roberts. “Fewer journalists doing twice the work is a recipe for disaster for our democracy.”