Three journalists arrested while covering a pro-life demonstration appeared in Provincial Court in Toronto Nov. 5 to have trial dates set.
Interim editorial advisory board member Sue Careless, LifeSite News videographer Steve Jalsevac and Royal City Journal reporter Gordon Truscott were arrested Oct. 15 while covering the arrest of pro-life activist Linda Gibbons outside the Scott abortuary in Toronto. They were charged with “obstructing a peace officer,” even though they did nothing to interfere with the work of the police and were present only as reporters. The Ontario government injunction prohibiting pro-life protests outside of abortion centres does not apply to journalists, and media have always been present at such protests without incident in the past.
Jalsevac and Truscott had their trial date set for December 17. The proceedings for Careless were adjourned until Dec. 3, because the Crown had yet to disclose the evidence it intends to use against her.
The police haven’t returned the film they confiscated at the time of the arrests. They claim it is needed as evidence. The seizure of the film has meant there is no available photographic record of Gibbons’ arrest, which eye-witnesses said was rougher than usual.
On Oct. 29, the three journalists appeared for mugshots and fingerprinting. The police say that if the journalists are acquitted, their lawyers can seek to have the hard copies destroyed, but they will still be saved on computer files.
Media coverage of the arrests has been disappointingly scant. Several religious newspapers have covered the story, including Christian Week, the Christian Courier, the Catholic Register, and the Endeavour. The Toronto Free Press and The Report Newsmagazine, both biweeklies, gave the matter extensive, front-page coverage. National Post columnist Ian Hunter and Toronto Sun columnist Marianne Meed Ward wrote in defence of the three journalists, and The Globe and Mail ran a short blurb about the arrests. Toronto broadcaster Michael Coren has featured the issue on both his radio and television shows.