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“I’ve been accredited by the Canadian government. I’ve been accredited by the British government. I’ve been accredited by the Ontario justice system. I’ve been accredited by UK courts. I’ve been accredited by the RNC and DNC. But not by the Liberal Party of Canada,” writes True North journalist Andrew Lawton.
September 25 marks the fourth day of Andrew Lawton being the only journalist following the Liberal campaign to not be accredited and permitted access to the campaign bus, as well as numerous Liberal events.
According to Lawton, the first day he was blocked from covering a press conference was due to concerns over his accreditation, which led to his being detained by police two days later and being effectively banned from covering a press conference. He was the only journalist to be treated this way, despite being accredited by numerous levels of government and being a verified journalist on Twitter.
“I’m at the site of Justin Trudeau’s Brampton event. Every other reporter but me has been issued credentials and allowed in. I’ve been ordered to wait on the sidewalk for further direction. A tour official told me I won’t be accredited. I’m appealing to press secretary,” wrote Lawton on September 22 in a tweet.
“It’s official. I’ve been banned from covering Justin Trudeau’s press conference,” he continued. “The reason? I’m not an “accredited” journalist, through the press secretary could not provide a definition of what accreditation means in a country that doesn’t license journalists.”
“Why have I been banned from covering your press conference? Why are you banning media, Prime Minister,” Lawton asked the Prime Minister at an event where he had to report from amidst the public.
Lawton also says that none of the journalists on the campaign bus have stood up for his freedom of the press rights.
“I’ve had no interactions from any reporters on the tour,” he told The Post Millennial. “I’ve had no support from them. They may or may not know the depths of what’s happening. This is a big issue. If we allow the government or the Liberals to start to pick and choose one or two people who aren’t allowed to cover, then their rights are at peril too, they’re just not aware of it”
After three days of continuing to report under suboptimal conditions, the media team covering the Liberal campaign eventually denied telling Lawton where the next event would be. When he followed the bus anyways, he was detained by police.
On the third day of his blocking, Lawton learned that two unaccredited University students had been allowed to cover the campaign, but not him. This is despite his being told by the media team that he supposedly needed to have been an Ottawa citizen to cover the campaign. Neither of the University students are or ever have been.
The Post Millennial reached out to Lawton, who said, “These people are just making up the rules as they go. I was given this elaborate rationale for my ban about the sanctity of accreditation, and the need to differentiate bloggers from accredited journalists. Yet right in front of me, two women who weren’t even from a media outlet were accredited on the spot by showing an article one had written, on a smartphone.”
Despite the rough treatment Lawton has received, he continues to follow the campaign bus and report to the best of his abilities.