2015 WORLD PRESS FREEDOM LUNCHEON

For immediate release

Kathy Gannon to speak at April 30 World Press Freedom luncheon

OTTAWA – Associated Press Special Regional Correspondent for Afghanistan and Pakistan Kathy Gannon will speak on “Press Freedom – Fact or Fiction” at this year’s World Press Freedom luncheon on Thursday, April 30. The event will be held at the Fairmont Château Laurier Hotel in Ottawa.

 

The annual luncheon is in celebration of World Press Freedom Day, designated as such by the United Nations Educational , Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to highlight media freedom issues around the world.

Gannon, a Canadian journalist originally from Timmins, Ont., has reported on Afghanistan for nearly three decades. Last April, Gannon and colleague Anja Niedringhaus, a German photojournalist, were covering the national Afghan election when an Afghan police officer opened fire on them while they were waiting in the back seat of a car. Gannon was shot six times and severely injured. Niedringhaus was killed.

17th annual Canadian World Press Freedom Award

During the luncheon, hosted by the Ottawa-based Canadian Committee for World Press Freedom (CCWPF), the 17th annual Canadian World Press Freedom Award will be presented. The Award honours a journalist or media worker who has made an outstanding contribution in the past year to the right of freedom of expression. The recognition comes with a $2,000 award and a certificate from the Canadian Commission for  UNESCO(CC UNESCO), sponsor of World Press Freedom Day celebrations in Ottawa.

The deadline for Award winner nominations is April 1. The nomination form for the World Press Freedom Award can be found here.

International Editorial Cartoon

At the April 30 luncheon, CCWPF President Shawn McCarthy will also announce the winners of the annual International Editorial Cartoon contest . This year’s theme — “Press Freedom has a value, but also a price” — is inspiring cartoonists around the world.  

“The shootings at Charlie Hebdo and in Copenhagen have deeply affected the cartooning community and made self-censorship all the more tempting,” said Guy Badeaux, chair of the cartoon jury. 

Cartoons must be submitted by 5 p.m. on April 3.  Information on submissions for the International Editorial Cartoon contest can be found here.

Tickets and sponsorships

Tickets to the event are $65 each, $120 for two.  Tickets and sponsorships (silver and gold levels) can be purchased at: https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/in-conversation-with-kathy-gannon-on-world-press-freedom-day-tickets-15802644134.

For more on the Canadian World Press Freedom Award nominations, the cartoon contest, sponsorship opportunities and additional information on the April 30 luncheon, please visit: http://www.ccwpf-cclpm.ca/.

CCWPF contacts

Shawn McCarthy, (613) 294-4491, SMcCarthy@globeandmail.com

Michelle Zilio, (613) 220-4496, michelle_zilio@hotmail.com

Susan Korah (613) 241-4967 susan.korah@sympatico.ca

Guy Badeaux, (613) 562-7506, bado@ledroit.com

About the CCWPF

The Canadian Committee for World Press Freedom is a not-for-profit organization run by a volunteer board. Through its activities, vigilance and relations with like-minded organizations, the Committee works to bring  the public’s attention to free expression violations and the need to proactively defend freedom of the press. Every May, the Committee recognizes UNESCO World Press Freedom Day with a luncheon event in Ottawa. This year’s event, to be held on April 30, will feature a keynote address by Kathy Gannon, Associated Press Special Regional Correspondent for Afghanistan and Pakistan.

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Pour diffusion immédiate

Allocution de Kathy Gannon à l’occasion du dîner de la liberté de la presse

OTTAWA – Envoyée spéciale de l’Associated Press en Afghanistan et au Pakistan, Kathy Gannon parlera des mythes et des réalités de la liberté de la presse lors du dîner de la liberté de la presse de cette année, qui aura lieu le jeudi 30 avril. L’événement se déroulera à Ottawa, à l’hôtel Fairmont Château Laurier.

 

Organisé chaque année pour célébrer la Journée mondiale de la liberté de la presse, ainsi désignée par l’UNESCO, le dîner est l’occasion de mettre en évidence les défis liés à la liberté de la presse dans le monde.

Mme Gannon, journaliste canadienne originaire de Timmims, en Ontario, travaille comme reporter en Afghanistan depuis près de trente ans. En avril dernier, Mme Gannon et sa collègue Anja Niedringhaus, une photojournaliste allemande, étaient en train de couvrir les élections nationales en Afghanistan lorsqu’un policier afghan a ouvert le feu sur elles alors qu’elles attendaient assises à l’arrière d’une voiture. Mme Gannon a reçu six balles et a été grièvement blessée. Mme Niedringhaus a été tuée.

17e prix annuel de la liberté de la presse

Le 17e prix annuel de la liberté de la presse sera remis lors du dîner organisé par le Comité canadien pour la liberté de la presse mondiale (CCLPM) basé à Ottawa. Le prix récompense un journaliste ou un travailleur de la presse qui s’est distingué au cours de l’année par sa contribution à la défense de la liberté d’expression. Le prix s’accompagne d’une bourse de 2 000 $ et d’un certificat de la Commission canadienne pour l’UNESCO, commanditaire des événements organisés à Ottawa à l’occasion de la Journée mondiale de la liberté de la presse.

Les propositions de mise en candidature doivent être soumises d’ici le 1er avril. Le formulaire de proposition de mise en candidature pour le prix de la liberté de la presse peut-être téléchargé ici (en anglais uniquement).

Concours international de dessin éditorial

Lors du dîner du 30 avril, le président du CCLPM, Shawn McCarthy, annoncera également les noms des gagnants du concours international du dessin éditorial de cette année. Le thème de cette année – « La liberté de la presse a une valeur, mais aussi un coût » – inspire des caricaturistes du monde entier. 

Guy Badeaux, président du jury du concours, explique : « Les fusillades qui ont eu lieu à Charlie Hebdo et à Copenhague ont profondément secoué le milieu de la caricature et ont rendu l’autocensure d’autant plus tentante. » 

Les caricatures doivent être soumises d’ici le 3 avril, à 17 h.  Les renseignements sur la participation au concours international de dessin éditorial sont disponibles en anglais ici.

Billets et commandites

Les billets seront vendus 65 $ chacun ou 120 $ la paire.  Pour acquérir des billets ou des commandites (niveaux argent et or), veuillez vous rendre à l’adresse suivante : https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/in-conversation-with-kathy-gannon-on-world-press-freedom-day-tickets-15802644134.

Pour obtenir de plus amples renseignements sur les mises en candidature pour le prix de la liberté de la presse, le concours de dessin éditorial, les possibilités de commandites ou le dîner du 30 avril, rendez-vous au http://www.ccwpf-cclpm.ca/.

Personnes-ressources au CCLPM

Shawn McCarthy, 613-294-4491, SMcCarthy@globeandmail.com

Michelle Zilio, 613-220-4496, michelle_zilio@hotmail.com

Susan Korah, 613-241-4967, susan.korah@sympatico.ca

Guy Badeaux, 613-562-7506, bado@ledroit.com

Le CCLPM

Le Comité canadien pour la liberté de la presse mondiale est un organisme à but non lucratif administré par un conseil d’administration constitué de bénévoles. Grâce à ses activités, à sa vigilance et à ses relations avec des organismes partageant les mêmes valeurs, le Comité s’efforce de porter à l’attention du public des cas de violation de la liberté d’expression et de le sensibiliser à l’importance de défendre la liberté de la presse de façon proactive. Tous les ans, en mai, le Comité célèbre la Journée mondiale de la liberté de la presse de l’UNESCO en organisant un dîner à Ottawa. L’événement, qui se tiendra cette année le 30 avril, comprendra une présentation de Kathy Gannon, envoyée spéciale de l’Associated Press en Afghanistan et au Pakistan.

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Feb. 12, 2015

OTTAWA – The Canadian Committee for World Press Freedom (CCWPF) welcomes the Egyptian government’s decision to release Canadian journalist Mohamed Fahmy from prison on bail and commends Mr. Fahmy for his courageous stand on the right of journalists to do their job.

“The Canadian Committee for World Press Freedom is relieved to hear of Mr. Fahmy’s release. His relentless calls for freedom of the press during his ordeal were admirable,” said CCWPF President Shawn McCarthy.

Mr. Fahmy and his colleague Egytpain Baher Mohamed were ordered released on bail by a court in Cairo Thursday, pending a retrial set to begin on Feb. 23. While the judge demanded that Mr. Fahmy pay the equivalent to about $41,000 Cdn. bail and released Mr. Mohamed without bail, charges against the two men are still pending.

“Mr. Fahmy and his colleagues’ cases were shams, totally unsupported by the evidence presented. Moving forward, the Committee urges the Egyptian government to respect freedom of the press, an important pillar of democracy, and completely drop charges against Mr. Fahmy.”

The 40-year-old journalist spent more than a year in jail for his efforts in reporting for Al Jazeera on civil unrest in the country.

The Ottawa-based non-profit group awarded Mr. Fahmy its “press freedom” award at its annual luncheon last May, in recognition of his unwavering commitment to the cause.

The Egyptian government has alleged that Mr. Fahmy and his two Al Jazeera English colleagues, Australian correspondent Peter Greste and Egyptian producer Baher Mohamed, backed the Muslim Brotherhood, considered a terrorist group by the current regime, in their reporting. They were arrested in Cairo in December 2013.

Last June, the three journalists were sentenced by a criminal court to between seven and 10 years in prison on terrorism-related charges. Their five-month trial sparked worldwide condemnation and garnered widespread attention from the international media, spawning the social media campaign #FreeAJStaff.

While Mr. Greste was released and deported to Australia at the beginning of February, Mr. Fahmy and Mr. Mohamed remained in prison.

On top of the distress of being held in an Egyptian jail, Mr. Fahmy has had to deal a physical injury during his incarceration. He sustained a shoulder injury days before his arrest, which worsened during his time in solitary confinement without any medical treatment. Mr. Fahmy recently underwent surgery on his shoulder and now has a metal rod in his shoulder and arm. According to media reports, his arm is still in a sling and he still needs further medical treatment. Fahmy now also suffers from Hepatitis C.

About the CCWPF

The Canadian Committee for World Press Freedom is a not-for-profit organization run by a volunteer board. Through its activities, vigilance and relations with like-minded organizations, the Committee works to bring to the public’s attention to free expression violations and the need to proactively defend freedom of the press. Every May, the Committee recognizes UNESCO World Press Freedom Day with a luncheon event in Ottawa. This year’s event, to be held on April 30, will feature a keynote address by Kathy Gannon, Associated Press Special Regional Correspondent for Afghanistan and Pakistan.

For more information or additional comment, please contact:

Shawn McCarthy
President, Canadian Committee for World Press Freedom
(613) 294-4491

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CCWPF calls on Egyptian government to immediately release Mohamed Fahmy

Feb. 8, 2015

OTTAWA – The Canadian Committee for World Press Freedom (CCWPF) regrets the decision by the Egyptian authorities to pursue further legal procedures against Canadian journalist Mohamed Fahmy and urges Egypt’s government to release him immediately.

A retrial date of Feb. 12 was set for Mr. Fahmy on Sunday, despite recent indications that his release was imminent. The committee urges the Canadian government to continue its efforts to help secure his release, and for Prime Minister Stephen Harper to intervene.

“While the CCWPF acknowledges the effort of the Canadian government thus far, we support the call of the Fahmy family for Prime Minister Stephen Harper to intervene to secure his release,” said CCWPF member Hugh Winsor.

“The news of a retrial is concerning. Mr. Fahmy and his colleagues’ initial trials were shams, totally unsupported by the evidence presented.”
The 40-year-old Egyptian-Canadian journalist has spent more than a year in jail for his efforts in reporting for Al Jazeera on civil unrest in the country.

The Egyptian government alleged that Mr. Fahmy and his two Al Jazeera English colleagues, Australian correspondent Peter Greste and Egyptian producer Baher Mohamed, backed the Muslim Brotherhood, considered a terrorist group by the current regime, in their reporting. They were arrested in Cairo in December 2013.

Last June, the three journalists were sentenced by a criminal court to between seven and 10 years in prison on terrorism-related charges. Their five-month trial sparked worldwide condemnation and garnered widespread attention from the international media, spawning the social media campaign #FreeAJStaff.

While Mr. Greste was recently released and deported to Australia, Mr. Fahmy and Mr. Mohamed remain in prison. Mr. Fahmy’s lawyer Amal Clooney has requested an in-person meeting with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sissi and Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry to push for her client’s release.

On top of the distress of being held in an Egyptian jail, Mr. Fahmy has had to deal a physical injury during his incarceration. He sustained a shoulder injury days before his arrest, which worsened during his time in solitary confinement without any medical treatment. Mr. Fahmy recently underwent surgery on his shoulder and now has a metal rod in his shoulder and arm. According to media reports, his arm is still in a sling and he still needs further medical treatment. Fahmy now also suffers from Hepatitis C.

The CCWPF awarded Mr. Fahmy its “press freedom” award at its annual luncheon last May, in recognition of his unwavering commitment to the cause.

About the CCWPF

The Canadian Committee for World Press Freedom is a not-for-profit organization run by a volunteer board. Through its activities, vigilance and relations with like-minded organizations, the Committee works to bring to the public’s attention to free expression violations and the need to proactively defend freedom of the press. Every May, the Committee recognizes World Press Freedom Day with a luncheon event in Ottawa. This year’s event, to be held on April 30, will feature a keynote address by Kathy Gannon, Associated Press Special Regional Correspondent for Afghanistan and Pakistan.

For further information:

Hugh Winsor
(613) 729-8604
(613) 296-3601

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Jan. 7, 2015

OTTAWA – The Canadian Committee for World Press Freedom condemns the murderous attack on France’s satirical Charlie Hebdo, and the killing of its journalists.

The CCWPF espouses the freedom of expression as a fundamental right, to be defended against government edict, or religious and political extremism.

Each year, the committee hosts an International Editorial Cartoon competition which celebrates the tradition of pointed commentary on public issues through cartooning. In 2010, the competition theme was ‘the right not to be offended is not a right,” calling attention to threats against journalists accused of blasphemy.

CCWPF joins colleagues from across the world in urging resistance to extremist threats that would silence criticism.

And we offer our sincere condolences to the people of France, and especially the family and friends of the Charlie Hebdo victims.

Shawn McCarthy
President, Canadian Committee for World Press Freedom
613 294-4491

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OTTAWA- Le Comité canadien pour la liberté de la presse mondiale condamne l’attaque meurtrière au journal satirique français Charlie Hebdo qui a entraîné la mort de plusieurs journalistes. Le CCLPM soutient la liberté d’expression, un droit fondamental qui doit être protégé des abus gouvernementaux et de l’extrémisme religieux et politique.

Tous les ans, le Comité organise le Concours international de dessin éditorial qui rend hommage au regard critique posé par les caricaturistes sur les questions d’ordre public. En 2010, le concours qui avait pour thème Le droit de ne pas être offusqué n’est pas un droit, visait à attirer l’attention sur les menaces faites aux journalistes accusés de blasphème.

Le CCLPM unit sa voix aux collègues du monde entier qui exhortent à la résistance face aux menaces extrémistes qui tentent de baillonner toute critique.

Nous offrons nos condoléances au peuple français et plus particulièrement aux familles et aux amis des victimes du journal Charlie Hebdo.

Shawn McCarthy
Président, Comité canadien pour la liberté de la presse mondiale
613 294-4491

Celebrated journalist was a founding member of the CCWPF

The Canadian Committee for World Press Freedom (CCWPF) joins the free expression community in Canada to express our deep regrets and sadness at the death of Bob Carty, a founding member of CCWPF and an indefatigable worker on behalf of the public’s right to information.

Bob was a consummate strategist and tactician. Earlier this year he set out the strategy for CCWPF and the CJFE to coordinate their efforts at drawing maximum attention to the imprisonment of Egyptian-Canadian journalist Mohamed Fahmy and his Al Jazeera colleagues, Peter Greste and Baher Mohamed. Bob also successfully pressed for Mr. Fahmy to be honoured as the 16th winner of the CCWPF’s World Press Freedom Award for the defence of press freedom and freedom of expression.

In what was his final email to CCWPF colleagues this month, he wrote: “I trust the committee will continue to follow the Fahmy case.”

Also this year, Bob worked with fellow committee member Hugh Winsor to mount a stratagem, that with the assistance of independent MP Brent Rathgeber, prevented the passage of amendments to Canada’s Access to Information Act that would have further weakened an already anemic law.

Rod Macdonell, a colleague of Bob on the CCWPF, and a former executive director of CJFE while Bob was on the CJFE board, recalls observing Bob’s work when he participated in the IFEX-Tunisia Monitoring Group and travelled to Tunis prior to the 2005 World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), with the mission of drawing attention to the hypocrisy of staging an international gathering celebrating the information society in a country infamous for silencing its critics, abusing dissidents and stifling the free flow of information.

“Bob was always humble and always the smartest person in the room,” recalls Macdonell. “He combined that with a disarming smile that seemed to prompt folks to disclose information to him that maybe they shouldn’t.”

“He was our human rights expert at CCWPF. We will miss his knowledge and wisdom.”

CCWPF secretary Charles Morrow said, “Bob made an outstanding contribution to the work of the Canadian Committee and was an inspiration to us as a proponent of free expression and freedom of the press. He had a very strong and deep belief in social justice. Listening to his music, you can see how that comes through very strongly.”

Don Newman, a long-time colleague of Bob on the CCWPF, says his abiding memory of Bob is as a quiet, yet forceful member of the WPF board.

Always ready to take on time-consuming tasks, he rarely gave long reports on his work. “It’s all done. It is taken care of,” was usually all he had to say.

And it was done. It was taken care of. Over the years be became rather like the corporate memory of our committee. He had been on the board that long.

And his was not a part-time commitment. He was also involved in Journalists for Free Expression. He talked the talk and walked the walk. Bob never complained about the cruel illness he battled.

“I’ll be away for a few days,” was all he would ever say when going to have treatment.

In all, he was a quiet, private man. He didn’t seem to get emotional about much, at least not with people he only knew casually. But there was another side as well.

About five years ago, around Christmas, I went to a professional presentation of Handel’s Messiah. At the end of the performance I unexpectedly ran into Bob and his wife.

“Are you a Messiah aficionado,” I asked.

“My son was singing the principal male role,” he replied, with understandable pride.

“Really! Well he was terrific! You should be very proud,” I told him.

Bob smiled. He looked pleased.
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The members of the Canadian Committee for World Press Freedom offer our condolences to Bob’s wife, Frances Arbour, and to his son, Michael.

The Canadian Committee for World Press Freedom condemns the verdict against Egyptian-Canadian journalist Mohamed Fahmy
Ottawa, June 23, 2014 — The Canadian Committee for World Press Freedom condemns the verdict against Egyptian-Canadian journalist Mohamed Fahmy and his Al Jazeera colleagues, Peter Greste and Baher Mohamed.

The three men were found guilty this morning in a Cairo court and have been sentenced to seven years in prison.

Mr. Fahmy was honoured last month in Ottawa as the 16th winner of the CCWPF World Press Freedom Award for the defence of press freedom and freedom of expression.

In a hand-written letter smuggled from his prison in Cairo and read at the World Press Freedom luncheon, he said “to imprison a journalist and attempt to silence his cause is not only an insult to the essence of Egypt’s constitution but also an affront to the global journalism community … A key part of our defence has been to convince the judge of our professional integrity; to prove to him that we are journalists striving for the truth, and not agents of terror.”

The CCWPF argues the verdicts against Mr. Fahmy and his two colleagues are totally unsupported by the evidence presented, and call upon the court to immediately consider an appeal. Failing that, a Presidential Pardon should be given as evidence that Egypt still holds a place among states honouring the values of freedom of the press.

Jailed Egyptian-Canadian journalist Mohamed Fahmy wins CCWPF Press Freedom Award

Arnold Amber: first recipient of Spencer Moore Lifetime Achievement Award

Winners of 15th annual International Editorial Competition Awards on ‘Big Brother’ Theme

Ottawa—May 1, 2014—An Egyptian-Canadian journalist currently detained in a Cairo prison will be honoured as the 16th winner of the Press Freedom Award at the Canadian Committee for World Press Freedom’s (CCWPF’s) annual luncheon celebration at the National Arts Centre. Fahmy1

Mohamed Fahmy, a producer for Al-Jazeera English based in Cairo, was arrested in Egypt on Dec. 29, 2013 along with two Al Jazeera colleagues – Australian correspondent Peter Greste and Egyptian producer Baher Mohamed. All are being kept in horrible conditions, without adequate medical attention, in the notorious Tora Prison.

The three Al Jazeera English journalists are on trial in a Cairo court on charges of providing a platform for the Muslim Brotherhood, which has been declared a terrorist group by Egyptian authorities.

Press freedom organizations around the world insist that all the three were doing was producing high quality journalism. Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE), who nominated Fahmy for the prize, explained that he “has become a target of an oppressive regime bent on stifling any expression of dissent, to the extent that an attempt to cover a story from all angles by interviewing members of the opposition has become equated with membership in a terrorist organization.” In fact, CJFE noted, “Mohamed Fahmy is a passionate journalist and advocate of press freedom who is facing retribution and censorship for exercising his right to free expression.” (more on Mohamed Fahmy)

Cartoons for Free Speech
The CCWPF today also announced the winners of the 15th annual International Editorial Cartoon Competition, which attracted hundreds of submissions from around the world on the theme: “Big Brother is Watching You.”

Bruce MacKinnon_cap_300

The first prize of $1,500 is awarded to Bruce MacKinnon of the Halifax-Chronicle Herald. The second prize winner, Pierre Brignaud, a cartoonist with the l’Oeil Régional, a weekly in the Montérégie region in Quebec, will receive $750. The third prize of $500 goes to Angola-born Rodrigo de Matos who draws cartoons for several publications including Expresso, a leading weekly newspaper in Portugal and the Macau Daily Times. (see the winning cartoons)

 

Arnold Amber Wins Lifetime Achivement Award
This year, for the first time, the CCWPF presented a lifetime achievement award named for the organization’s founded, the late Spencer Moore. The inaugural award was presented to Arnold Amber, the President of Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) who in his professional life was an award-winning television producer and active trade unionist. (see award citation)

‘World Press Freedom Day (usually May 3rd, but celebrated this year on May 2nd) serves as a reminder to governments of the need to respect their commitment to press freedom. It is also a day of reflection among media workers about issues of freedom expression and a time to develop initiatives to defend and promote free speech. This year’s luncheon will feature a keynote address by John Ralston Saul, renowned Canadian author and President of PEN International, on “Secrecy, Surveillance and Free Expression.

World Campaign to Free Fahmy and other journalists
Mohamed Fahmy, who moved to Canada with his family 20 years ago, previously worked for CNN and the BBC. He is also the author of “Egyptian Freedom Story,” an account of the 2011 Arab Spring.

Fahmy’s two brothers visited him in prison last Sunday, his 40th birthday, and told him he had won the Press Freedom Award. In a hand-written message smuggled out of a jail where paper and pencil are not allowed, Fahmy stated: “The recognition not only brought joy, but it also lifted the morale of my two colleagues with whom I share a cell. I strongly believe that diplomatic pressure in addition to efforts of press freedom advocates does send a clear message to those judging us in court.”

He added that this award would go a long way toward making the case for him and his colleagues who hope to convince the judge that they are journalists “striving for the truth” and not “agents of terror”.

Ironically, the trial of Fahmy and his colleagues is scheduled to resume on May 3, the UNESCO- designated World Press Freedom Day.

The Canadian Committee for World Press Freedom Award includes a cash prize of $2,000 and a certificate of honour from the CCWPF and the Canadian Commission for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

Fahmy, who said he would “proudly accept the certificate,” has requested CCWPF to donate the $2000 prize to the family of the late Mayada Ashraf, a young Egyptian journalist who lost her life while covering the weekly clashes between security forces and the opposition protesters last month.

The CCWPF is a not-for-profit organization run by a volunteer Board. The CCWPF acknowledges the generous cash and in-kind contributions from its many sponsors, which include the Canadian Commission for UNESCO, iPolitics, Rogers ,Bell, Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) and many others.

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Parliamentarian Kills His Own Bill, Ends Threat to the public broadcaster, CBC

On February 26, 2014, the sponsor of a private member’s bill killed his own legislation just seconds before it was to be approved by the House of Commons in Ottawa.  For free expression groups, Rathgeber’s action represents a the closure of a proposed law that could damage the CBC’s ability to protect confidential sources and maintain the integrity of its journalism.  (More … )
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2013 World press Freedom Day Luncheon

Maher-McGregor honoured with CCWPF Press Freedom Award

Stephen Maher of Postmedia News and Glen McGregor of The Ottawa Citizen have become the 15th recipients of the World Press Freedom Award, the Canadian Committee for World Press Freedom (CCWPF) announced today at its annual luncheon at the Ottawa Convention Centre. Maher and McGregor won the Award for a series of stories they co-wrote on the so-called ‘Robocalls” affair exposing fraud in the federal election of 2011. This not only touched off a political firestorm but subjected the two writers to a campaign of smear tactics and vilification.

An Honourable Mention was accorded to Margaret Munro, science writer at Postmedia News for her story on the muzzling of scientists by the federal government, squarely placing the issue of freedom of expression for the science community on the national agenda.

Charles Sennott

Keynote speaker Charles Sennott, an award-winning, Boston-based journalist and media entrepreneur, addressed the gathering on “Ground Truth in a Digital Age.” After a uniquely dangerous year for international reporting, Sennott explained why journalists must renew their commitment to on-the-ground reporting.

Don Newman, former host with CBC TV will moderate the event.

May 3, celebrated around the world as ‘World Press Freedom Day,’ serves as a reminder to governments of the need to respect their commitment to press freedom. It is also a day of reflection among media workers about issues of freedom expression and a time to develop initiatives to defend and promote free speech.
The Canadian Committee for World Press Freedom Award includes a cash prize of $2,000 and a certificate of honour from the CCWPF and the Canadian Commission for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

 The 13th annual International Editorial Cartoon Competition, also hosted by the CCWPF, invited cartoons on the theme: “Hard Times and Free Speech” and drew responses from around the world.  “When journalists and cartoonists face economic uncertainty or threats to their employment there is great pressure to give up on tackling tough stories, give in to self-censorship or give attention to sensationalist journalism in the service of commercial survival,” said contest co-coordinator Guy Badeaux.

The first prize of $1,500 was awarded to Leslie Ricciardi of Uruguay. The second prize of $750 went to Dale Cummings of Canada, and the third prize of $500 was won by Peter Chmela of Slovakia. (see winning cartoons)

The CCWPF is a not-for-profit organization run by a volunteer Board. The CCWPF acknowledges the generous cash and in-kind contributions from its many sponsors, which include the Canadian Commission for UNESCO, the Canadian Newspaper Association, Canadian Association of Journalists (CAJ) ,iPolitics, The Ottawa Citizen, Le Droit, the Hill Times,  and Embassy newspapers, the National Press Club Foundation, St. Joseph’s, Prospectus Associations, Rx & D and many more.

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Access to Information Reform:
CCWPF demands
end to government culture of secrecy

OTTAWA, Jan. 31, 2013 /CNW/ – An Ottawa-based press freedom watchdog is challenging the federal government to dismantle its culture of secrecy by reforming the country’s Access to Information legislation, with a parallel shift in attitudes toward citizens’ rights to obtain public records.

The Canadian Committee for World Press Freedom (CCWPF), a non-profit body whose mission is to celebrate and advocate for freedom of expression nationally and internationally, has submitted a 10-page report – Make Access the Rule, Secrecy the Exception – to the Office of the Information Commissioner as part of the Open Dialogue Consultations on reforming the Access to Information Act.

“It is time to bring Canada’s Access to Information Act into the 21st century and to restore Canada’s former leadership in the field,” said Hugh Winsor, member of the Board of Directors of CCWPF and one of the two co-authors of the report, noting that the ranking of Canada’s access legislation, compared to 92 countries has fallen to 55th place according to a study by the Centre for Law and Democracy in September 2012.

“Access to information must not be seen as a privilege, but rather as a fundamental right of citizens,” added Winsor.

Describing the current culture of secrecy surrounding access to information, the report expressed great concern for:

  • The growing wait times for the release of information under Access to Information – often well beyond the statutory 30 days. This works to the major disadvantage of deadline-driven journalists, which in turn limits the public’s right to know.
  • The increasing extent of redaction (editing, deleting of sensitive portions) of released documents with requesters receiving all of the documentation they request in only 15 percent of all requests submitted in 2010 compared to 41 percent in 2000.
  • The tripling of exemptions for international affairs and defence since 2002-2003.
  • Government officials avoiding the creation of records, for example by not taking minutes to meetings.

Among changes to the law and procedures, the CCWPF report recommended:

  • The Cabinet, the House of Commons, the Senate and the Judiciary, currently excluded from the ATIA through a blanket exemption must be brought under the Act with protocols developed for circumstances when confidentiality is essential.
  • A number of agencies and public institutions such as, for example, airport authorities that are currently exempt, should be subject to the law, with a clear definition of what constitutes a public institution.
  • Exemptions to the release of information should be minimized and the onus on the government department to prove that non-disclosure is necessary.
  • Modernization and simplification of requests for information processes making them less expensive and more user-friendly for the average citizen.

More Power to Information Commissioner

The submission also recommended a significant strengthening of the powers of the Information Commissioner, both in terms of administrative procedures and with regard to the right to examine contested records to determine if they qualify for exemption.   “If a department or agency wishes to defy a commissioner’s order to disclose, the onus should be the department or agency to contest it in Federal Court and not on the information requester as is the current practice,” Winsor said.

For further information:Media Contact: Hugh Winsor, phone: 613-729-8604 or 613-296-3601
E-mail: winsnews@sympatico.ca

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Freedom of Expression in Broad Strokes

A Traveling Exhibit

Ottawa, April 27, 2011–The Canadian Commission for UNESCO and the Canadian Committee for World Press Freedom have launched a traveling exhibition of editorial cartoons entitled Freedom of Expression in Broad Strokes. The exhibit is being shown at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa on May 3, UNESCO World Press Freedom Day and will then travel across Canada. (read more …)

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Canadian Committee for World Press Freedom
Suite 802 – 350 Sparks Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1R 7S8

info@ccwpf-cclpm.ca

The Canadian Committee for World Press Freedom 11th International Editorial Cartoon Competition

1. The theme for the 11th International Editorial Cartoon Competition is:

“Wikileaks” and its creators: villains or heroes?