Despite having won accreditation and the election being over, the Trudeau government has taken it upon itself to appeal the court’s decision to confirm True North and Rebel Media journalist Andrew Lawton’s right to cover the debates.
“The Trudeau Government, in one of its very first acts after the election, is using taxpayer dollars to appeal our court victory,” writes True North founder and senior fellow Candice Malcolm in a tweet. “A victory that allowed us to cover the election. They want to shut down independent media. We will fight back! We are lawyering up. Again.”
Lawton went through a lot over the course of election 2019.
He faced obstacles as soon as official campaigning began, being barred from the Liberal Party’s media bus and plane and having to follow along in his car, often without knowing where the bus was headed.
Then, he was prevented by security from attending public events during the campaign, had the police called on him, and was even banned from covering press conferences.
The rationale used by the Liberal team was that Lawton didn’t meet their accreditation standards, which included having to live in Ottawa for a certain amount of time, despite these standards not applying to other journalists.
Things only got worse. Finally, once the official debates began, he was the only journalist prevented from attending, with the federal election deciding that True North was an advocacy group and, thus, Lawton wasn’t an official journalist worthy of attendance.
“We believe it is illegal for the debate to be held excluding us, because we are a media organization and they’ve decided we are not, which is not true,” said Malcolm at the time.
In response, Lawton and True North brought the issue to the federal courts, demanding, based on freedom of speech and freedom of the press, as well as Lawton’s long-standing journalism career, that he be allowed to cover the election.
“The idea that they can just say, ‘no you’re not a journalist’ and come up with excuses – these people are acting like dictators, they’re acting like bullies and I don’t think they should be allowed to get away with it,” said Malcolm at the time of the lawsuit.
Ultimately, Lawton was victorious in his accreditation case, and the courts forced federal election staff to allow him to cover the election and ask questions.
As it stands, the campaign against Lawton’s journalistic freedoms will continue indefinitely, with more taxpayer money being spent in a legal battle to keep a journalist from doing his job.