“The only security of all is in a free press. The force of public opinion cannot be resisted when permitted freely to be expressed. The agitation it produces must be submitted to. It is necessary, to keep the waters pure.” –Thomas Jefferson
Journalist Amy Goodman was detained by border services officers when she entered Canada Wednesday night. After extensive questioning and searches of her notes and computers, and those of two colleagues, CBSA allowed her to enter but issued Goodman an order to leave Canada within 48 hours.
Ms. Goodman was scheduled to lecture at the Vancouver Public Library for an event co-sponsored by Simon Fraser University. The event was advertised as:
- Award-winning journalist Amy Goodman, host of the daily, grassroots, global, radio/TV news hour Democracy Now!, is on a national speaking tour to mark DN!’s 13th anniversary and launch her new book, Breaking the Sound Barrier.
Ms. Goodman says that Douglas Crossing border agents questioned her and searched her vehicle and computers intensely. They demanded her speaking notes and persistently asked about the 2010 Games in Vancouver.
He said, ‘You’re saying you’re not talking about the Olympics?’ He was clearly incredulous that I wasn’t going to be talking about the Olympics. He didn’t believe me.
I am deeply concerned that as a journalist I would be flagged and that the concern — the major concern — was the content of my speech.”
American sports journalist Dave Zirin called this an example of Canadian paranoia, wedded with arrogance. He also wrote that, leading up to the Games, Canada “stifled civil liberties and harassed local activists. The last thing they want is someone like Amy Goodman telling the world.”
So, who is this individual so dangerous to Canadians that she had to be sent packing?
Amy Goodman, 1984 graduate of Harvard, is a best-selling author of four books and host of Democracy Now!, a daily one-hour news broadcast, syndicated to more than 800 outlets in North America. Her audience numbers in the millions, including a podcast edition that Time Magazine named its “Pick of the Podcasts.”
This is a partial list of awards honoring Amy Goodman during her distinguished career:
- 2008 Right Livelihood Award “…for developing an innovative model of truly independent political journalism that brings to millions of people the alternative voices that are often excluded by mainstream media.”
- Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Award for International Radio;
- Park Center for Independent Media Izzy Award, 2009 for special achievement in independent media;
- Communication for Peace Award from the World Association for Christian Communication, 2008;
- ACLU-NCA Henry W. Edgerton Civil Liberties Award, 2008 for a distinguished career as an active defender and supporter of civil liberties;
- George Polk Award for Radio Reporting;
- Paley Center for Media to honor women creating radio and television;
- Gracie Award for American Women in Radio and Television Public Broadcasting, 2007 Individual Achievement for Outstanding Program Host
- James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism, 2007 Career Achievement;
- Ruben Salazar Journalism Award Outstanding Commitment to Preserving the Integrity of Journalism;
- Alfred I. duPont-Columbia Award Excellence in Broadcast Journalism;
- American Women in Radio & Television – Pinnacle Award for Radio Programming;
- National Catholic Association of Broadcasters Best Documentary and Best Religious Documentary;
- The Newswomen’s Club of New York Front Page Award for Distinguished Journalism.
After the CBSA initially declined comment, a low level spokesperson for the agency tried to suggest the event was simply routine, something that all visitors might face. Field Marshal Bud Mercer, commander of armed forces ensconced near Vancouver to secure the Games, says “his people” do not have lists of people who are persona non grata because of the Olympics. He didn’t suggest there is no list, only that his people didn’t have it, now.
It would be interesting to know who did alter Amy Goodman’s file, putting her on a watch list as a potential enemy of Canada. Two things come to mind.
First, the decision was a blunder so egregious that people responsible should be stripped of authority. The Olympics, already suffering with unsold tickets, tells the world that Canadian authorities are determined to interfere with civil rights and press freedom. These dummies target a highly respected individual who is read and heard by millions of our neighbors, a person who has been honored by the most prestigious institutions of her profession. Think that has a negative multiplier effect? Damn right. VANOC clowns want publicity but they’re getting the wrong kind.
Secondly, the Harper Government demonstrates again that it is philosophically and ethically allied with George Bush’s failed Administration. While the evidence builds of complicity in Afghani torture by the military, senior politicians and diplomats, Conservatives defend themselves with misrepresentation, blame shifting and outright prevarication, all techniques of the disgraced Republicans.
This Amy Goodman incident reminds us of how the Harper Government welcomed George Bush to Canada, without a moment’s hesitation. We hold hands out to war criminals but abuse the civil rights of an acclaimed journalist who has always supported human rights, peaceful process and non-violent rule of law.
How did Canadian values become so confused?
“Our liberty cannot be guarded but by the freedom of the press, nor that be limited without danger of losing it.” –Thomas Jefferson