Quebec undemocratic for barring journos: RWB

Reporters Without Borders has taken the Quebec government to task for backing the press gallery’s decision to bar reporters from Le Journal de Montreal. The decision was made during  the Quebec National Assembly.

Sun Media’s David Akin writes:

“Jean-Francois Julliard, the Paris-based secretary general of Reporters Without Borders, says in a letter to the speaker of the Quebec National Assembly, Liberal MNA Yvon Vallieres, that barring reporters from the assembly is “detrimental to the image of Quebec, its democracy and the institution over which you preside.” The press gallery is refusing to accredit reporters from Le Journal de Montreal because the paper’s management and some of its employees are in a labour dispute that is in its 18th month.

“Management at Le Journal locked out 250 unionized workers on Jan. 24, 2009, saying the union representing those workers wanted to deadlock ongoing negotiations. Despite locking out more than 100 editorial employees, the daily has published continuously.

“The locked-out editorial and office employees, who are represented by the Syndicat des travailleurs de l’information du Journal de Montreal, have been receiving 76% of their regular pay – tax-free – since the dispute began.

“Recently, the press gallery in Quebec City changed its constitution to allow it to refuse accreditation to anyone representing an organization involved in a labour dispute.

“Without press gallery accreditation, reporters can’t cover debates in the legislature, committee meetings, or press conferences and can’t use press facilities in the assembly buildings.

In a letter to the Toronto Sun, Robert Guathier writes:

“That Canadian journalists were required to seek the intervention of “French Revolution” Paris-based Reporters Without Borders to force Canadian legislators to protect the fundamental right of freedom of expression is outrageous.
“In a letter from an editor of a newspaper in Uganda, referring to a parallel (still unresolved) freedom of expression dispute with the Speaker of the Canadian House of Commons, James Walugembe wrote:
“One would not expect such a problem in the more advanced democracies.”
“Every single Canadian owes a most important vote of gratitude to the Sunmedia for tackling this violation by Canadian elected representatives of the fundamental right of freedom of expression guaranteed in the Canadian Constitution.”