Due to our media access being arbitrarily revoked by Chief Dale McFee of the Edmonton Police Service the Progress Report has filed a discreditable conduct against Chief McFee with the Edmonton Police Commission.
"The actions by Chief McFee in arbitrarily, without stating any reasons, and without providing an opportunity to be heard in revoking the media credentials, are deeply undemocratic and offensive. Even if the EPS eventually restores the media credentials, irreparable damage has been caused to the reputation of the Edmonton Police Service and the Office of the Chief of Police.
This arbitrary and apparently punitive revocation of media credentials is akin to Donald Trump’s labeling and mistreatment of some media outlets as “enemies of the people”. The actions by Chief McFee makes one think of how dictatorial regimes treat their media. We should be disturbed when we see any unjustified infringement on the freedom of the press in Canada.
It is antithetical to the role of the Chief of Police for him to behave in this fashion," says the complaint.
Screenshot from Feb. 16 press conference with Dale McFee.
Tom Engel is acting as our lawyer for this matter. The complaint can be found here. Details on the context and the history of this matter can be found here but our ability to access press conferences, have our questions answered by the media relations unit and to receive media emails from the police was revoked on February 24, 2022 with no reason given.
This decision by the Edmonton Police Service to revoke our media access came just over a week after a somewhat contentious exchange between myself and Chief McFee over the EPS' lackadaisical approach to enforcing the city of Edmonton's court-ordered injunction that aimed to curb the disruption caused by the convoys that were regularly rolling through downtown at the time.
"Without knowing the basis for the revocation and the review, it is impossible not to conclude that the only reasonable explanation is Chief McFee decided to muzzle a media outlet that was critical of the Edmonton Police Service. Chief McFee’s unacceptable treatment of my clients during the February 16, 2022 media conference is part of the evidence supporting that inference. It is to be observed this may be part of a broader recent approach by the Edmonton Police Service in how it has chosen to handle its critics," says the complaint.
The Progress Report has not received any correspondence from the Edmonton Police Service on this matter since March 14, 2022. At the same time I was informed that our access was being revoked we were told that our media accreditation was under review and that we were welcome to re-apply. I re-submitted our "application" from 2020 and informed EPS that since then that I had become a member in good standing with the Canadian Association of Journalists.
We are unaware of any other media outlet that has had had their media access revoked or even of any media outlet that had go through application process that we had to go through in summer and fall of 2020.
Chief McFee and the Edmonton Police will not succeed in silencing the hard-hitting, independent, investigative journalism that you've come to expect from the Progress Report. We are also a tiny, independent news outlet going up against an organization that's going to get $385 million from city of Edmonton taxpayers this year, if you like what we do join our email list and become a supporter with a small monthly donation.