On the 30th anniversary of UNESCO’s World Press Freedom Day, Canadian journalists are being recognized this afternoon at a luncheon in Ottawa, including La Presse’s Vincent Larouche, the winner of the 2023 Press Freedom Award.
The award is presented annually by World Press Freedom Canada (WPFC) to a journalist who has overcome secrecy, legal maneuvers, political intimidation, interference, or other safety risks to produce public interest reporting.
In March 2022, Larouche, the newspaper’s Head of Investigative, uncovered a secret trial conducted in the Quebec Court of Appeal, in which prosecutors pursued charges against a police informant. He leveraged confidential sources, access to information, and court documents to peel back the layers of the case, which ran counter to Canada’s open court principle, while the Public Prosecution Service of Canada deployed significant resources to block La Presse in court. His coverage prompted Quebec’s justice minister to vow such a trial would never be conducted in secret again, with the practice condemned by the Bar of Quebec and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada.
WPFC is also recognizing Rachel Pulfer, executive director of Journalists for Human Rights (JHR), with the 2023 Spencer Moore Award for Lifetime Achievement, honouring sustained and demonstrable commitment to improving press freedom and freedom of information.
Citations of Merit
WPFC is awarding a Certificate of Merit to freelance journalist Justin Ling, citing his “long track record of breaking through walls of silence around police cold cases, contributing to the nationwide discussion on access to information and press freedom, and shedding light on sophisticated networks of disinformation that contribute to alienation and radicalization in Canada.” Ling was among the journalists bombarded by threats following his coverage of the 2022 “Freedom Convoy” protests.
Charlie Pinkerton, who broke the story of Greenbelt developers attending the wedding party of Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s daughter, is also being recognized after resigning from his job at iPolitics-owned QP Briefing over alleged interference. The Toronto Star subsequently published the story. Additionally, WPFC is commending QP Briefing editor Jessica Smith Cross, who also resigned over the matter.
Ali Miraee, an Iranian cartoonist living in the U.S., is the winner of this year’s WPFC international editorial cartoon contest which awards a cash prize of $1,500.
This year’s World Press Freedom Day Luncheon is highlighted by a keynote conversation between journalist Anna Maria Tremonti and Irene Gentle, Torstar’s VP of Inclusion and Strategic Partnerships, who will participate in an armchair discussion about the rise of online harassment against female and marginalized journalists.
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