Amy Goodman alleges border guards repeatedly asked her if she was speaking about the Vancouver Winter Games
Globe and Mail Update Published on Thursday, Nov. 26, 2009
Amy Goodman, host of Democracy Now , a radio and television show aired by public and college broadcasters across North America, was entering Canada around 6 p.m. Pacific time Wednesday evening, set to speak at the Vancouver Public Library in an event co-ordinated by a campus radio station at Simon Fraser University.
“When I handed our passports over the border guard, they told us to pull over. We had to go over to the border facility. And they started asking me questions about what I was going to be speaking about. I was totally taken aback. They wanted to see my notes,” Ms. Goodman told the Globe Thursday, recalling the encounter.
Ms. Goodman, 52, began telling them. In the country to promote her book Breaking the Sound Barrier , a collection of the award-winning journalist's columns, she planned to discuss the missions in Afghanistan and Iraq, of which she is a critic; Canadian icon Tommy Douglas, a hero of medicare; global warming; and the worldwide economic meltdown.
“Well, that pretty much does it. And he said, ‘what about the Olympics? ‘And I said, ‘the Olympics? Do you mean when President Obama went to Copenhagen to try and get the Olympics for Chicago?' ” Ms. Goodman recalled asking.
She claimed the officer persisted in questioning her about Vancouver's upcoming Games.
“I said, ‘no, I wasn't planning to talk about that,' ” she said. “He just seemed incredulous. They didn't believe me.”
They began to search her notes and computers and those of her two colleagues, Ms. Goodman alleged. They then photographed the journalist and gave her a stipulation to leave the country by Friday night. They were delayed over an hour.
Ms. Goodman characterized the questioning as an undue attack on the freedom of the press.
“There's supposed to be a separation between the state and the press. The fact that the state was going through my documents, that they were rifling through notes, that they were asking me what I was planning to speak about, is a very serious issue,” she said.
“If journalists fear they will be…monitored, it's more difficult for the public to get information. And information is the currency of a democracy.”
Although an outspoken firebrand with a knack for shaking the establishment, she doesn't recall discussing or writing about the Vancouver Games at all.
“I have not written about this before in any way,” she said.
Canadian Border Services Agency Pacific region spokeswoman Faith St. John declined to discuss the specifics of Ms. Goodman's case, saying only that border guards are entitled to question people until they're satisfied that they “meet all requirements of coming into Canada.”
Asked whether the looming Games have led to any new questions of would-be entrants to Canada, Ms. St. John said flatly: “no.”
Ms. Goodman went on to give a speech in Vancouver Wednesday night, and another in Victoria on Thursday. She'll leave the country Friday for a series of engagements in Washington state, she said. Speaking with the Globe prior to her talk in Victoria, she said she planned on discussing her border delays with the crowd.
“Clearly, if it's okay with the border police,” she said.
Commentary by the Ottawa Mens Centre
The border guards did not act alone. They were very
obviously acting under instructions and those instructions.
This is just another symptom of how Canada is on a terrifying legal slippery slide that removes fundamental freedoms and rights. It makes our charter look like a sick joke.
Amy Goodman is one American who is admired universally and virtually no one questions her integrity or the desirability of her visiting Canada.
In many ways, she sounds more Canadian than American. She should receive the welcome at the boarder that she deserves.
Someone owes Amy Goodman a very public apology and it is not the boarder guard who was acting under instructions to intimidate the hell out of her.
Now, WHO was the S.O.B. who gave those instructions to terrorize Amy Goodman at the boarder?