I’m getting a bit sick of our reporters being arrested. Two of our team-mates were arrested over the weekend.
First in Australia — Avi Yemini’s bodyguard was singled out of a crowd, and “grabbed” by police, smashed to the floor, handcuffed, punched and kneed.
Take a look:
That was Saturday in Melbourne. But then yesterday, Sunday, in the GTA.
Our reporter, David Menzies, was going to cover two political events — a Conservative event with Melissa Lantsman, and a Liberal event with Majid Jowhari.
Then I suddenly received a phone call that David had been arrested.
Look at what happens to David’s notebook when he gets arrested.
To help you, we’ll put a bright circle around it. That woman is one of Erin O’Toole’s campaign organizers; they called the cops; then when the cops arrested David, they grabbed his notebook and rifled through it, taking photos.
That’s not legal. I think that might be theft; probably a privacy violation too; and I think you could say it’s actually obstructing a police investigation — that, and all other personal items on David were in the custody of the police during his arrest.
By the way, I think they still have it — I know they’re calling up other journalists around town and telling them what’s in the notebook, because one of those journalists told me that.
David was pushed and jostled; he was splashed with what I think was water, but I’m not sure.
And all because he asked prickly questions.
It wasn’t a particularly important event to cover; like I say, David was planning to pop by there just for a bit, before going to the Liberal event.
But they called the cops on him — saying he assaulted people.
Video footage of David’s arrest went viral — and so ten hours later, that O’Toole candidate, Melissa Lantsman, put out a damage control memo:
Lantsman went on the offensive, to switch the subject. This wasn’t about David being arrested or David’s notebook or David having water thrown on him. It was actually all about David being very homophobic. Because Lantsman is gay.
Lantsman made her sexuality central to her campaign; and just as much, so did Erin O’Toole.
He wanted her to be a living, breathing rebuttal to the claim that the Conservative were anti-gay. Again and again, the Conservative party said Lantsman was proof they were past all that.
So David asked a simple question: did you win on merit, or on the basis of your sexual orientation?
I mean, I think that would be rude to any other candidate who didn’t talk about their sexuality. But for Lantsman, it’s like being a vegan or on a gluten-free diet. It’s all she talked about.
No objection by Lantsman at the time; pretty tough to write glowing op-eds about yourself being gay, but then be mad when someone asks you about it. David put the question to her in a similar phrasing a couple of times, and then he was arrested and the day was over.
But it wasn’t until close to midnight when the Lantsman campaign decided to rebrand that question as the real crisis of the day, and say she was worried for her safety about his homophobia.
For Lantsman, questions about Wal-mart, and questions about how she won the nomination, and questions about if she was chosen as an LGBT mascot — that’s all called homophobia. And maybe if she shouts it enough, it’ll drown out the concerns about arresting a reporter, assaulting him, and rifling through his notebook.
We’ve set up a page at SaveMenzies.com to crowdfund to fight the charges, and to help us go on the offensive, to make sure the lady who threw the liquid on David is investigated by police, and to get on the clipboard notebook thief.
But this whole affair has me thinking about things.
I’m worried. But we’re going to continue our work. I don’t want our people arrested; we’ll make sure we’re careful; that we carefully stay within the law.
We brief our people on legal matters all the time; we'll see doing that.
But we are going to cover politicians of every stripe — Trudeau’s Liberals, O’Toole’s Conservatives, Singh’s NDP and whoever owns the Green Party at this given moment.
We’re just going to do it; and we’re going to ask questions, even if they’re prickly, even if they’re not perfect questions.
That’s a democracy, and the right answer to a reporter is to answer him, or not to answer him, not to attack him, arrest him and steal his notebook.
GUEST: Avi Yemini (@OzraeliAvi on Twitter)
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