Canada's ranking worsens on World Press Freedom Index 2017
On World Press Freedom Day, Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reiterated the importance of a free and independent press. However, the country's media community is concerned as Canada dropped four points to rank at number 22 out of 180 countries on the World Press Freedom Index, which states that “Prime Minister Trudeau has strongly advocated for a 'free media' but the past year has shown this to be dead letter".
The Index also draws attention to several examples of violations of freedom of expression, including last year’s revelation that Quebec police had spied on several journalists. It also cites the case of journalist Justin Brake, as reported on the Monitor, who faced criminal charges for reporting on a protest in Newfoundland.
The display and subsequent removal of a flag representing an anti-abortion movement at Ottawa City Hall has drawn national attention. Proponents of the flag say its removal is an erosion of freedom of speech and expression, but opponents say it violated the city’s flag-raising policy that only allows charitable or non-profit organisations to request that their flags be flown, but in this case it was requested by an individual.
City of Ottawa proclaimed today “March for Life Day" and flew an anti-abortion flag at city hall. https://t.co/i1agjd7dwa— Rosa (@journorosa) May 12, 2017
In May 2017, Canada’s Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour announced the country’s decision to finally ratify the International Labour Organization’s Convention 98 - The Right to Organize and Collective Bargaining Convention, 1949, which protects workers from anti-union discrimination and job termination for participating in union activities.
The Quebec government introduced legislation – Bill 133, prohibiting police officers from altering their official service uniforms. Fines for refusing to comply with the legislation range from $500 to $3,000 per day. For the past three years, police officers have been wearing camouflage pants to protest reforms to their pension plans introduced in 2014. A union representative expressed his disappointment over the bill, stating:
"There is nothing left to incite the government to sit down and talk with us at the negotiating table. They took away the very last means we had ... visibility".