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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

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Prime Minister’s remarks for the Global Conference for Media Freedom

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Hello everyone. Thank you for being with us today for the second Global Conference for Media Freedom.

I am pleased to be here with you, along with Canada’s outstanding Minister of Foreign Affairs, François-Philippe Champagne, and Minister Morwaeng of Botswana, who will be co-chairing today’s conference.

At the last global conference in London a year and a half ago, we would never have known the challenges that 2020 would bring. But what we already knew was that press freedom would be part of the solution.

In the last few months, we have seen how free, open debate – based on facts – is the only way forward.    

Not only is press freedom a cornerstone of democracy – it’s a fundamental building block of strong, healthy societies. When journalists can do their jobs, when citizens can get good, reliable information – everyone does better.

Now, that’s how things should be. But as you all know, all too often that’s not how things are.

Today, we see citizens calling for change – from Hong Kong to Belarus – only to have the authorities attack the freedom of the press.

We see journalists casting light on human rights abuses and on this pandemic – people like Kyaw Soe Oo, Wa Lone, and Maria Ressa – only to face repression and violence.

It is never acceptable for a journalist to be attacked for doing their job.

It is never acceptable for a reporter to be thrown in jail for interviewing a peaceful protester.

And it is never acceptable for anyone, anywhere, to have their freedom of expression denied.

A crackdown on the media puts democracy in danger. It puts lives in danger.

So when we see it happening, we can’t turn away. We can’t wait for someone else to act.

After all, a free, independent press doesn’t happen by itself. It happens because as citizens, we know it is vital to our shared future – and so we accept nothing less.  

Canada will always stand up for freedom of the press, just as we will always stand up for freedom of expression. 

At home in Canada, we have taken the lead by investing in local journalism, and internationally, through initiatives such as the G7 Charlevoix commitment and the Media Freedom Coalition.

Together, we are doing some very important work.

So, thank you for getting involved.

A little later today, Minister Champagne will have more to say about how Canada will continue to invest in global initiatives that defend free media and push back against disinformation.

I know you’ll also be discussing the findings of the High-Level Legal Panel of Experts on Media Freedom – a group on which Canada is very ably represented by The Honourable Irwin Cotler.

This panel is a great example of the power of working together – as civil society, government, and global organizations – to stand up for the kind of future we all want to build.

When living in times of change, it is up to us to seize the opportunity and decide what to do next.

It’s up to us to fight for a fairer and healthier society where everyone, everywhere, is free to make their voice heard. 

Together, I know we can do it.

Thank you again for participating in this conference, and thank you for all your hard work.