Four ways to celebrate

World Press Freedom in 2014

The Canadian Committee for World Press Freedom invites you to help us celebrate Canadian journalists going the extra mile to defend free expression.

Here are four ways to recognize their efforts:

1. Save the date, then join us for lunch May 2 at the National Arts Centre for frank talk, inspiring conversation and our sixteenth annual celebration of World Press Freedom Day. Guest speaker John Ralston Saul will address the issue of “Secrecy, Surveillance and Free Expression.” (ticket information) (This is a very popular event – reserve now! Ticket order form)(ticket form .rtf)

Saul_solo_head_shot

2. Nominate a Canadian journalist for the CCWPF Press Freedom Award. During our May 2 event, we’ll honour a journalist or media worker who has made an outstanding contribution in the past year to the right of freedom of expression. Deadline for entries is April 4. The recognition comes with a $2,000 award and a certificate from UNESCO, sponsor of World Press Freedom Day. (Nomination page)

3. As a journalist, set aside space or broadcast time to mark World Press Freedom Day, following a year in which more than 108 media workers have lost their lives in often targeted attacks.

4. Help Guy Badeaux, editorial cartoonist for Le Droit, Ottawa, spread the word about the CCWPF’s International Editorial Cartoon contest. The theme of this year’s contest: “Big Brother is Watching You.” Deadline for entries is April 4. (Cartoon contest criteria)

Here is more on our theme:

“Whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed how the National Security Agency worked with government agencies to spy on the private communications of millions of individuals. Further revelations disclosed how the U.S. agency used massive data collected by internet and telephone corporations to circumvent laws that prohibit government agencies from spying on their own citizens. Without protection from illegal and unwarranted surveillance, the private communications of individuals can be chilled, leading to massive self censorship, the shackling of free speech and the creation of a Big Brother society.” (cartoon contest criteria)

 

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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Maher-McGregor honoured with World 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.

Reeyot Alemu wins 2013 UNESCO-Guillermo

Cano World Press Freedom Prize

(more)

Press freedom committee 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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Science journalists

win Press Freedom Prize

The Canadian Science Writers Association (CSWA) and the Association des communicateurs scientifique (ACS) are winners of the 14th annual Press Freedom Award for their work in exposing government restrictions on federal scientists that prevent or delay the free communication of public science through the media.

Awarded each year by the Canadian Committee for World Press Freedom, the prize goes to a Canadian person or group who has defended or advanced the cause of freedom of expression. The award includes a cash prize of $2,000 and a certificate from the Canadian Commission for UNESCO whose Secretary-General, David A. Walden, presents it at a noon luncheon in Ottawa on May 3rd at the National Arts Centre.

The CSWA noted in a letter to Prime Minster Harper in February that his government promised accountability and transparency, but federal scientists are still not allowed to speak to reporters without the “consent” of media relations officers. As a result, some journalists have simply given up trying to access federal scientists, while federal scientists work in an atmosphere dominated by political messaging.

“Our message is radically simple,” says CSWA president Stephen Strauss. “Eliminate the spin doctors and media minders and let tax-payer funded scientists speak for themselves. Follow the American lead where government scientists are free to speak to journalists without having to first seek the approval of a public affairs officer.”

CCWPF member Bob Carty says his committee selected these associations for its prize to send a message to the Harper government that “Canadians have the right, through the media, to access the expertise of publicly funded scientists, and those federal scientists have the right to freedom of expression.”

“Science is critical to Canadian society. From climate change to oil pipelines, from epidemics to the safety of our food and water, we need to know the results of the scientific work our taxes support. We need our media to be unencumbered by needless government delays and ideological filtering,” Carty says.

The CCWPF also presented two free press Honourable Mentions this year. The first is to Alain Gravel, animateur of the program “Enquete” of Radio-Canada television.Mr. Gravel led most of the reporting on the on-going scandal in the Quebec construction industry, including alleged involvement of the mafia. Gravel waged a successful fight to protect one of his main sources in stories dealing with corruption and millions of dollars in tax-evasion. The CCWPF wishes to recognize Mr. Gravel’s courage in the face of an attempt to have him found in contempt of court, and his steadfast dedication to the principle of protecting sources.

In addition the committee granted an honourable mention award to the initiative of the Canadian Commission for UNESCO, notably Ms. Pauline Dugré, and political cartoonist Guy Badeaux, for organizing the International Exhibition of Editorial Cartoons. This display of the best cartoons from the last decade of the CCWPF International Cartoon Competition has been seen in more than 30 communities across Canada. It is a very signifant contribution to the understanding of free expression and press freedom.

The Ottawa event for World Press Freedom Day also announced winners of the 12th International Editorial Cartoon Competition on the theme: “Power to the People: Citizens and Social Media.” This year the competition received more than 300 submissions from 40 countries with prizes of $1,500, $750 and $500 going to the top three cartoons. The Grand Prize went to cartoonist Liza França from Brazil, second prize to Riber Hansson of Sweden, and third prize to Hicabi Demirci of Turkey. (see winning cartoons)

World Press Freedom Day tries to increase awareness about free speech violations. Last year 103 journalists and media workers were killed for doing their jobs and 179 writers, editors, and photojournalists were behind bars at the end of 2011. In a new and ominous trend, 199 “netizens” (Internet citizens or advocates) were arrested, a 31% increase over the previous year.

May 3 was proclaimed World Press Freedom Day by the UN General Assembly in 1993 following a Recommendation adopted earlier at UNESCO’s General Conference. Sponsors of the CCWPF luncheon – an annual event since 1998 – include the Canadian Commission for UNESCO, the IDRC, Rx&D, Newspapers Canada, iPolitics, the Canadian Association of Defence and Security Industries, The Ottawa Citizen, The Hill Times/Embassy, Le Droit, and many more.

The 14th annual World Press Freedom Awards luncheon was moderated by Don Newman, former Parliamentary Editor, CBC News. The panel – Jeff Sallot, Kathryn O’Hara, and Yaroslav Baran – addressed the question: “Is Free Expression Under Siege in Canada?”

[View Luncheon Programme]

News links:

On Press Freedom Day, concerns raised about Harper government ‘clampdown“, by Gemma Karstens-Smith , Postmedia News, May 3/12

Freedom of expression not so free: journalists by Gemma Karstens-Smith, Postmedia News May 3, 2012

Gallery: World Press Freedom cartoon contest” canada.com, May 3, 2012.

Some photos:

David Walden, Canadian Commission for UNESCO, presents the free press award to Stephen Strauss, Canadain Science Writers Association, and Binh An Van Vu, Association de communicateurs scientifique

Binh An Van Vu, Association de communicateurs scientifique

Media Contacts:

Bob Carty (613)730-1007 / cell (613)447-2808 rcarty@sympatico.ca
James Baxter (613)216-9613 / cell (613)614-0809 jamesbaxter@ipolitics.ca
Hugh Winsor (613)296-3601 winsnews@sympatico.ca

 

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CITIZEN LAB wins prize for defence of the Internet

Citizen lab Postcard
Ottawa – May 3, 2011 – The Citizen Lab is the recipient of this year’s press freedom award of the Canadian Committee for World press Freedom. (read acceptance remarks by Rafal Rohozinksi of Citizen Lab)

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Tony Burman
The 2011 World Press Freedom Day luncheon featured a presentation on “Capturing the Arab Awakening” by Canadian journalist Tony Burman, head of strategy for the Americas for the Al Jazeera English television network. (read Burman’s remarks)

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More about Press Freedom Day:

The Citizen Lab team, based at the Munk Centre for International Studies at the University of Toronto, was selected by the CCWPF for its press freedom award because of its ongoing dedication to free expression online through work that exposes cases of Internet censorship and espionage around the world. The award includes a cash prize of $2,000 and a certificate from the Canadian Commission for UNESCO whose Secretary-General, David A. Walden, presented it at a noon luncheon in Ottawa on May 3rd.

“We have been impressed by the work Citizen Lab has done in exposing the extent of Internet censorship in dozens of countries, such as China and Tunisia,” says Bob Carty, a board member of CCWPF. “Their work in documenting cases of Internet espionage is important to prevent computers from being hi-jacked by others and to keep the Internet a domain that is safe and public. And their work in designing and disseminating software to help circumvent Internet censorship has already helped hundreds of activists around the world bring about dramatic and democratising change in the face of tyranny and repression.”

“The Internet has changed forever the way we impart and receive information, and it is critical that we keep it free.” said Rafal Rohozinski, Senior Research Advisor for Citizen Lab and the CEO of the Psiphon, the censorship circumvention project. “We are greatly honoured by this award.”

The Ottawa event for World Press Freedom Day, held at the National Arts Centre, also announced winners of the 11th International Editorial Cartoon Competition on the theme: “Wikileaks and its creators: villains or heroes?” This year the competition received more than 700 submissions from 50 countries with prizes of $1,500, $750 and $500 going to the top three cartoons. The Grand Prize went to cartoonist Marilena Nardi of Italy. Second Prize was won by Jugoslav Vlahovic of Serbia, with Sergey Elkin of Russian winning Third prize. (view winning cartoons)

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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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2010 World Press Freedom Day

Michelle Lang Honoured with World Press Freedom Award

Michell Lang

Ottawa – May 3, 2010 — Calgary Herald reporter Michelle Lang has become the 12th recipient of the Canadian World Press Freedom Award, the Canadian Committee for World Press Freedom (CCWPF) announced today at its annual luncheon. Lang, and four soldiers accompanying her, was killed on the job in Afghanistan on December 30, 2009. It’s the first time in its 12-year history the award has been given posthumously.

“Michelle Lang paid the ultimate price for her craft,” CCWPF President David Gollob said. “As we reach the end of close to a decade of involvement in Afghanistan, questioning about the achievements obtained for so much sacrifice has never been so intense. In this, our own journalists are playing a critical role, by bringing us the stories that allow us to have informed opinions. Michelle’s legacy is not just her contribution to this debate: her courage and sacrifice are an inspiration to all.”

Since 1992, when UNESCO designated May 3 as World Press Freedom Day, organizations around the globe have held events to honour media workers who have risked life or liberty to bring their stories to the public.

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 10th annual International Editorial Cartoon Competition, also hosted by the CCWPF, invited cartoons on the theme: “The ‘right’ not to be offended is not a right: How can we encourage vigorous debate while being respectful of religious sensibilities?” This was inspired by a recent attempt on the life of Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard and by the fact that blasphemy is now a criminal offence in Ireland. The jury noted that many of the cartoons deal, from contrasting points of view, with the tension between religious freedom and press freedom.

The first prize of $1,500 was awarded to Plantu, cartoonist for Le Monde. His entry, originally published in the Parisian newspaper, depicts a cartoonist drawing under the watchful eye of an Imam perched on a minaret, which has been transformed into the artist’s pencil.

The second prize of $750 went to Riber Hansson of Sweden and the third prize of $500 went to Signe Wilkinson of the United States.

Veteran broadcaster Don Newman, who has hosted the awards luncheon since its inception, noted in his comments that this year’s event takes place against a backdrop of increasing violence against journalists. At least 101 journalists and media workers were killed in 2009, a significant increase from the 87 journalists killed in 2008.

The CCWPF is a not-for-profit organization run by a volunteer Board. Jim Orban, Publisher of the Ottawa Citizen, serves as Honorary Chair. The CCWPF acknowledges the generous cash and in-kind contributions from its many sponsors, which include the Canadian Commission for UNESCO, the Canadian International Development Agency, the Canadian Newspaper Association, the National Press Club Foundation, The Ottawa Citizen, Le Droit, the Hill Times and Embassy newspapers, and many more.

Photo Credit: Chris Bolin

See photos of the Press Freedom Luncheon.

Media Contacts: Bob Carty (613) 730-1007 rcarty@sympatico.ca, or Charles Morrow (613) 241-4665 morrow2@sympatico.ca; or Gord McIntosh, gord@110percent.ca

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From our previous year…

View 2009 Awards Programme

Praise for Defenders of Free Speech

Daniel Leblanc wins Press Freedom Award

Daniel Leblanc

Ottawa – May 5, 2009 — Daniel Leblanc of The Globe and Mail has won the 11th annual Press Freedom Award of the Canadian Committee for World Press Freedom (CCWPF).

The award, and a cash prize of $2,000, was presented by Mme Michèle S. Jean, President of the Canadian Commission for UNESCO. (photo by Michel Lafleur) (press release)

The award is the centrepiece of an annual CCWPF luncheon on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day. More than 175 people attended the event, sponsored by 16 national and local corporations and media outlets and held at the National Arts Centre. It was hosted by Don Newman, CBC Senior Parliamentary Editor.

2009 First prize

In the International Editorial Cartoon Competition, the first prize of $1,500 was awarded to Aristides Esteban Hernandez Guerrero (aka Ares), from Cuba, for his cartoon on the theme of “Protecting Privacy?”

Other awards went to Onder Onerbay from Turkey ($750), and Mahmood Nazani, Iran ($500).

(view cartoons)

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Graeme Smith

The feature speaker at the luncheon was Graeme Smith, the longstanding Kandahar correspondent for the Globe and Mail, addressing “The dangerous and confusing search for truth in Afghanistan.” (listen)

Mr. Leblanc was nominated by the Globe and Mail for his willingness to risk judicial censure for protecting a confidential source in the sponsorship scandal. (Listen to Daniel Leblanc acceptance speech) The source, whom Leblanc called MaChouette, provided information and leads for stories which eventually prompted the establishment of the Gomery Enquiry.

“Daniel’s willingness to risk judicial censure by protecting MaChouette (his source) is an example of considerable journalistic and personal courage. Thanks to his stand, sources who expose misconduct in the future will be able to rest a little easier that their identify will remain protected,” said The Globe and Mail.

“Threats to press freedom and freedom of expression know no geographic boundaries, as this year’s nominations attest,” said CCWPF President David Gollob. “Eighty seven journalists (according to IFEX) were killed worldwide in 2008 and many others suffered threats, physical attacks and, increasingly kidnapping, including several Canadians. When powerful forces seek to muzzle a free press we all suffer.”

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?