Accountability in crisis

The motto of the Canadian Journalism Foundation is “as journalism goes, so goes democracy.” You could add “so goes accountability.” We see accountability take a backseat with BP’s staid denial of media access to areas affected by the company’s massive oil spill, but also in the company’s refusal to allow executives, oil workers and even rescue workers speak to the media. Now, the U.S. Coast Guard is supporting BP’s iron grip on information with a new rule declaring that no person is allowed within 65 feet of anything BP: that includes the oil boom, the rescue boats, and even those oiled animals we’ve seen flopping along the shoreline. All the while BP repeats the same tired line that they’re doing everything they can – but with no media investigating to ensure they are, in fact, doing everything they can to fix a massive mistake they made, how will we, the public, ever really know? Closer to home, Canadians are calling for a public inquiry into the G20, which saw many journalists arrested, beaten and generally denied access to covering the event. What stories did we miss because of that? Speaking of inquiries, the long-awaited inquiry into the 1984 Air India bombing spent over 60 pages detailing the murder – and subsequent investigation – of Canadian journalist Tara Singh Hayer, who was killed in his home in Surrey B.C. over a decade ago and whose killers remain unpunished, despite the tiring work of journalists like Kim Bolan. Any outsider has got to wonder:  do journalists support impunity, or will we start demanding accountability?