Anti-Olympic activist stopped at border

If free expression were an Olympic event, Canada’s medal hopes would not be looking good. The latest in a string of disturbing incidents: Chicago activist, Olympics critic and part-time reporter Martin Macias Jr. was denied entry to Canada on Saturday, Feb. 6.

Macias had planned to attend rallies and protests before the games. He is also host and producer of First Voice, a program broadcast on community radio station Radio Arte. He was questioned for more than two hours and then put on a flight to Seattle. Bob Quellos, a fellow activist who was travelling with Macias, was also questioned but was allowed into Canada.

According to the Huffington Post, Macias was an invited guest of an anti-Olympics conference, and previously protested Chicago’s bid for the 2016 games., The Tyee , the Vancouver Sun  and CTV were also among those reporting on the deportation.

Canadian Journalists for Free Expression expressed concern about the incident. “Canada should not be trying to keep critics out of the country,” says CJFE Board member and journalist Kelly Toughill. “The Olympics should be a showcase for our belief in free speech, not an example of its repression.”

In a press release, CJFE noted that the Macias incident echoed one in November, when Amy Goodman, host of the National Public Radio program Democracy Now!, was detained and questioned by Canadian border agents en route to Vancouver.

Goodman’s status as a professional journalist is clear, while Macias’ is more doubtful, as discussed in another J-Source post. But Canadian authorities denying him access to Canada is part of a larger pattern of incidents related to the 2010 Olympics.

Last week, it appeared Australian athletes would be made to take down a banner displaying a team logo from a balcony in the athletes’ village. The International Olympic Committee has since said the banner can stay, the Vancouver Sun reports.

Last summer, as J-Source reported the Writers’ Union of Canada protested after Chris Shaw, author of Five Ring Circus: Myths and Realities of the Olympic Games, was questioned by Integrated Securities Unit (ISU) officers.

The Crying Room gallery on Vancouver’s downtown eastside was told to remove an outdoor mural depicting the Olympic rings with four of the five turned into sad faces (the fifth face was smiling). Art Threat was among those reporting the incident.

A column by Daphne Branham in the Vancouver Sun outlined several other incidents.