Ben Makuch trial rallies supporters for press freedom

Reporter fights order to turn notes over to RCMP, addresses rally

John Liss stands outside of Osgoode Hall in support of Ben Makuch
John Liss stands outside of Osgoode Hall in support of Ben Makuch and freedom of press.  Olivia Blackmore/Toronto Observer

Being the story, instead of reporting it, was a weird feeling for VICE News reporter Ben Makuch.

“As a journalist you’re always on the other side watching the politicians and organizers,” Makuch said. “And now it’s me speaking to this crowd that’s here for me.”

Ben Makuch waits to speak to a crowd of supporters standing outside of Osgoode Hall Feb. 6. (Olivia Blackmore/Toronto Observer)

Makuch was in court Monday, fighting an earlier decision that had ruled he had to hand over his notes of a conversation with a suspected terrorist to the RCMP.

During a recess, Makuch came outside Osgoode Hall to speak with media and a group of supporters rallied by the Canadian Journalists for Freedom of Expression.

“If you want to continue having whistleblowers, criminals talking to different people, and actually engaging the public through journalists, you have to care about this case and what’s going on,” Makuch said.

Demonstrators were adamant about showing their support for freedom of the press.

“People who would take away our freedoms, will feel emboldened to do so if the public is not involved in the issue,” longtime CJFE supporter John Liss said.

“The press is a very important component to resist the bad things that can happen in Canada, as they’re clearly happening in the U.S.,” Liss said.

CJFE handed out signs that read “Stand with Ben Makuch” and a chant of “A war on media is a war on us” was taken up by the group.

“We are seeing around the world the erosion of press freedom and that is really what this case is about,” CJFE executive director Tom Henheffer said.

“It is about police agencies trying to establish a precedent whereby they can get the notes of any journalist at basically any time,” he said. “They’re trying to turn journalism into an arm of law enforcement.”

No decision has been made by the court yet.

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Posted: Feb 8 2017 10:20 am
Filed under: News