I went to the Canadian and UK government’s media freedom conference in London and all I got was a water bottle that I've never used … and these exclusive access to information documents!
Back in July the boss, Ezra Levant and I went to the Defend Media Freedom conference, an event co-hosted by the Canadian and UK governments in London, England.
You can see all of our coverage from that event at MediaFreedomConference.com.
When we got home I filed an access-to-information request about that conference. I wanted to see if Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland was serious about her constant rhetoric at the conference about government information and a journalist's right to it.
We asked the ministry to provide us a list of names of people who received official invites from either the UK or Canada to the conference and in what capacity they were invited — were they journalists and NGO stakeholders, or governmental representatives?
The documents I received back were mostly redacted! Names, outlets, organizations and, in some instances, even the kinds of stories the journalist stakeholders have covered — what we call in the business “their beats” — was blacked or cancelled out throughout the document.
However, the Foreign Affairs bureaucrats aren't as great at obscuring information as they think they are.
On page 3 of the documents, George Soros’ Open Society Foundation appears as an NGO on the invite list, but the name of the attendees redacted. Canada’s mainstream media journalist union, Unifor, had an invite too.
On pages 7 and 8, the list of Canadian journalists Foreign Affairs invited as stakeholders begins, with names redacted. No surprise, there wasn't a conservative or someone from new media in the bunch.
The list of government representatives seems to suggest the UK was the lead in getting the “censorious thug” Pakistani Foreign Affairs Minister come to the conference. Page 26 reads that Pakistan was “in discussion with the UK.”
The Russian government - listed as 149 out of 180 countries in media freedom measured by Reporters without Borders - was invited to participate in the conference as a stakeholder nation. However, Freeland and her UK counterpart, Jeremy Hunt subsequently blocked Russian journalists from both Sputnik and RT from access to the conference.