In one of its first major acts since Justin Trudeau won the 2019 Canadian federal election, The Leaders’ Debate Commission, a body created and chosen by the Trudeau government, is using taxpayer money to appeal an injunction against its decision to ban independent journalists from government press events.
The Leaders’ Debate Commission has filed a Notice of Appeal against the independent digital media platforms Rebel Media and True North seeking to overturn an earlier Federal Court decision which ordered it to grant accreditation to David Menzies (Rebel Media), Keean Bexte (Rebel Media), and Andrew Lawton (True North) and allow them to attend the Canadian leaders’ debates which took place on Monday, October 7, 2019 and Thursday, October 10, 2019.
2. Here's the Notice of Appeal. You can see it was filed during the election, but not served on us until today, safely after the election. Trudeau knows it would have been an election scandal, going to court to silence independent media. pic.twitter.com/Hh7K4CbIUF
— Ezra Levant 🇨🇳🦠 (@ezralevant) October 25, 2019
Here is the notice of appeal we received moments ago. Looks like we’re going back to court to relitigate @AndrewLawton’s ability to cover the debate that happened three weeks ago. Here we go again… @JKuredjian @TrueNorthCentre pic.twitter.com/bcBPbGCaEi
— Candice Malcolm (@CandiceMalcolm) October 25, 2019
If successful, it will set a legal precedent which is likely to make it easier for The Leaders’ Debate Commission to ban these journalists from future government press events.
In a previous court filing, The Leaders’ Debate Commission refused to accredit these journalists for the Canadian leaders’ debate because they are “primarily involved in advocacy.” However, the judge ruled in favor of Rebel Media and True North and ordered that their journalists be accredited.
Now in this Notice of Appeal, The Leaders’ Debate Commission is asking the court to set aside the judge’s decision, even though the event has already taken place and the journalists have already attended. The Federal Court judge has yet to publish his official decision which means The Leaders’ Debate Commission is appealing it sight unseen.
Rebel Media founder Ezra Levant and True North founder Candice Malcolm have both vowed to fight back against this notice of appeal.
He also lamented free speech and civil liberties organizations for failing to support Rebel Media and True North: “I note that not a single free speech, civil liberties or media organization was in court with us fighting against this censorship.”
Malcolm responded to the Notice of Appeal by saying: “The Trudeau Government, in one of its very first acts after the election, is using taxpayer dollars to appeal our court victory. 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.”
She also echoed Levant’s views on the purpose of the appeal: “This serves only one purpose. The Trudeau government is intentionally trying to bankrupt True North.”
The filing of this Notice of Appeal comes in the same month that Trudeau’s party announced that tackling online “hate speech” would be a major party policy – a policy that many see as a call for more censorship that will harm free speech online.