[image: Image may contain: one or more people, people sitting and text]
Kevin Metcalf
21 hrs
 · Toronto, ON
<> ·

I've been advised that I can expect to be terminated from Canadian
Journalists for Free Expression this coming Tuesday evening and have
pre-emptively been removed from my social media roles and the
organization's website back-end. The cause for this termination, I have
been informed, will most likely be the official cessation of the
organization's operations and its semi-permanent closure. Congratulations
Canada, you've killed free speech. I have learned that in the last week, a
half-dozen resignations have been tendered on the organization's executive
committee and Gala committee, including the resignation of the acting
Executive Director and President of the Board. Those resignations came
after we published a statement calling on Canada to condemn the woundings
and killings of Palestinian journalists by Israel during border protests.

The best reason I have been given thus far for the organization's collapse
is that CBC employees who were powerful contributing members of the Gala
fundraising committee resigned after they or their handlers at CBC
disapproved of the statement, which condemned the Israel Defence Forces. A
full version of the four-paragraph statement is appended below. The
organization has been in a fundraising crunch for some time. I have
previously overheard at least one CBC employee telling members of the
organization that their producer had pressured them to withdraw their
support for CJFE in response to past controversial statements. This also
happened when the organization took a position opposing the Anti-Terrorism
Act, 2015 (formerly Bill C-51).  A protest letter to Chrystia Freeland, the
Minister of Foreign Affairs, condemning the killings and wounding of
journalists and protesters in Gaza appears to have been sufficiently
controversial for the worst-case scenario to play out.

Writing and publishing statements and protest letters is what is expected
of me as per my job-description. It is clear that I am being punished for
doing my job. I was asked to keep this a secret until Tuesday, but an hour
ago, I was notified that the Board of CJFE pre-emptively ordered the
statement removed from the organization's website.  As it is the subject of
a spirited online discourse, a clear decision has been made to make this
matter public.  I was also notified that the organization's Executive
Director, who gave notice of resignation last week, complied with that
request.  Since CJFE moved to remove (see: censor) the piece from the
internet I've also been forced to go public.  It is troubling that pressure
exerted by public employees at the state broadcaster has led to the
censorship of a protest letter by an advocacy organization.  It is my
opinion that this illustrates an attempt by public employees to exert undue
influence over a civil society group, ostensibly on behalf of a foreign

The order to remove the piece from the internet came a day after a
Palestinian journalist was killed, and well after partner organizations the
Freedom of the Press Foundation, Committee to Protect Journalists, and
Reporters Without Borders all published similar statements calling for
condemnation of attacks against journalists and unarmed demonstrators.
CJFE took the lead ahead of many western press freedom organizations when
it spoke out about the violence toward journalists in Gaza.  It also
received the brunt of public criticism.  Our statement was castigated on
social media by *The Globe and Mail*'s Doug Saunders, *The National Post*'s
Jonathan Kay; -- and *Canadaland*'s Jesse Brown even referred to the
statement as 'stupid' in a Twitter post.  Notably, none of those
journalists protested when CJFE sent similarly strongly worded protest
letters to the Governments of Iran, China, Croatia, etc., on behalf of
journalists or protesters facing violence in those countries.  Those past
statements were also universally applauded by CJFE's board.

My confidence in the independence and ethics of the journalistic profession
in this country has subsequently been shattered.  It is clear that systemic
racism, elitism, and influence peddling at the top of Canadian media have
created a permissive culture which is trying to legitimize the use of
deadly force against journalists and demonstrators, even manifesting at the
core of an organization whose mission is purportedly the stalwart defence
of free expression.  I have heard some people suggest that "The Media" is a
monolithic entity, which is controlled by funding and funding
relationships.  It is whispered in dark corners that people who break ranks
in journalism and publish without institutional cover, are 'made an example
of' if things they write upset the industry's key players or threaten their
interests.  I can tell you that while this isn't universally true now, it's
naturally the end goal of an industry establishment to exercise narrative
control over its members wherever possible.  This is often achieved through
intimidation, harassment, public humiliation, or by leveraging financial
connections.  I know this last point is true, because it is what happened
to me.


Posted below for posterity is the full text of the statement which cost me
my job:

CJFE is gravely concerned by the extrajudicial killings of demonstrators
which occurred on March 30, 2018 in Gaza. It has been reported that the
Israel Defence Force (IDF) used sniper fire, tank rounds and “less lethal”
munitions like tear gas during a civil order event on the militarized
border between Israel and Gaza. The United Nations reported that 15 Gazans
were killed and more than 1000 were wounded. The Palestinian Center for
Development and Media Freedoms has stated that among those wounded in the
massacre are many journalists.

We acknowledge the fact, as Israeli authorities have stated, that border
demonstrations at the “March of Return” in commemoration of Palestinian
“Land Day” were disorderly and boisterous in nature. We also recognize that
the use of lethal force to respond to boisterous demonstration or civil
disorder is an anathema to the principles of democracy, freedom and
justice. Similar incidents have occurred in Tunisia, Syria and Ukraine. If
similar incidents transpired in 2018, in any other country, the
condemnation from the international community would be swift and clear.

Canada is recognized internationally as a close ally of the Israeli state.
It is incongruous to profess support for democracy, human rights or press
freedom while ignoring the deleterious effect that this repression by an
allied state has on these values. Failure to condemn the IDF's brutality
will undermine Canada's moral authority when condemning similar acts by any
other nation-state. Targeted attacks against demonstrators and journalists
must be condemned wherever they occur. Canada must speak out to defend
universal principles of human rights, democracy and press freedom.

The Government of Canada must condemn the one-sided use of military force
against civilian demonstrators and media in Gaza, must immediately call for
a cessation of these brutal practices, and must use all available
diplomatic, political and economic channels to pressure Israel to initiate
a fulsome and transparent inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the
massacre, which left 15 dead, and more than 1000 wounded.


Attached images: (Left: Palestinian Journalist holds his leg after being
shot by the Israel Defence Forces during Land Day Protests in Gaza) (Right:
Featured advertisement CJFE ran in The Globe and Mail, December 2017.)

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