Narwhal Lawsuit

A stark reminder of why journalism matters

Proud, angry, sad, defiant — we’ve got all the feels this week after seeing our readers join us in standing up for press freedom in Canada

The Narwhal's masthead logo
Photojournalist Amber Bracken talking into a mic outside B.C. Supreme Court

“In that moment I was both trembling and absolutely rooted in place. I was determined not to let this moment go unrecorded. Soon they would put me in handcuffs and take my cameras from me. After that they would take my rights.”

Hearing photojournalist Amber Bracken say those words, on the steps of the B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver on Monday, was a stark reminder of why journalism matters — and how an absence of journalism leaves us all in the dark.

It’s hard to articulate the feelings myself and all my colleagues at The Narwhal have been experiencing this week as we launched a lawsuit against the RCMP to take a stand for press freedom.

Proud. Angry. Sad. Defiant. Rooted in place.

Amber’s arrest at the hands of the RCMP happened in November of 2021, as she was reporting on Wet’suwet’en opposition to the Coastal GasLink pipeline project — the construction of which is still underway. (Just last week, our northwest B.C. reporter Matt Simmons broke a story about how Fisheries and Oceans Canada quietly backed off on monitoring as pipeline work killed fish.)

“As a journalist, I never wanted to be the story,” Amber said this week. “But the police took that decision from me when they finally made it impossible for me to do my job.”
From left to right: Lawyer Sean Hearn, Amber Bracken, The Narwhal's co-founders Emma Glichrist and Carol Linnitt walking out of the B.C. Supreme Court

It’s for this reason that we, as our legal counsel Sean Hern put it, made the “overwhelmingly uneconomic” decision to bring this case to the province’s top court.

At The Narwhal, we often like to remind readers and ourselves about our commitment to tell stories that would otherwise go untold. Increasingly, police actions are limiting our ability to tell those stories — so we took the step to defend the rights of all journalists.

“This isn’t something that we wanted to do, but it was something that we had to do,” editor-in-chief Emma Gilchrist said, noting that we couldn’t be taking this step without the ongoing support of thousands of members and donors who make The Narwhal possible.

Speaking of which: we’ve been overwhelmed by the show of support this week as hundreds of you donated to our legal defence fund.

We’ve also been heartened to see our case get coverage just about everywhere, from broadcasters like the CBC, Global and CTV to papers including the Guardian, The Globe and Mail and Toronto Star.

We also held a special online event on Wednesday that included guest panellist Brent Jolly, the president of the Canadian Association of Journalists.

As Brent said in this opinion piece published by TVO, “what happened to Bracken must never happen again to any journalist who is serving the public’s right to know.”

Take care and stand up for what’s right,

Arik Ligeti
Director of audience

Three illustrated futuristic-looking industrial facilities set against a cloudy sky. The images were made by Midjourney AI.

Saving the planet or saving face?

“It’s time to clear the air: oilsands contribute significant carbon emissions in Canada.”

You might have seen this Pathways Alliance ad on TV (even during the Super Bowl, if you were waiting to watch Rihanna’s halftime show). The ad goes on to reveal how the group of six fossil fuel companies — some of which have lobbied against climate action before — has pledged to achieve “net-zero emissions from oilsands operations by 2050.”

The key to that pledge? Carbon capture technology. But oil companies have internally viewed carbon capture as a means to secure a “social license” to prolong the use of fossil fuels for decades (while working to decarbonize their operations).

When an expert United Nations panel made recommendations for net-zero pledges from large corporations, a number of their conclusions were at odds with the Pathways plan.

“You need to show a pathway for your investments from dirty to clean. They aren’t doing that,” panel chair Catherine McKenna told The Narwhal’s climate investigations reporter Carl Meyer. 

This comes at a time when some Pathways companies, like Imperial Oil, have made record profits while turning to Canadian governments for subsidies.

Are Pathways companies working to save the environment, or is this, as critics claim, just another greenwashing tactic? Go here to read Carl’s analysis.


This week in The Narwhal

Green crabs in a bin
The worst house guests: European green crabs are invading B.C. waters
By Ainslie Cruickshank
A monumental effort is underway to contain the spiny creatures, the bodies of which are flash frozen and dumped at landfills or churned into compost. But one First Nation is arguing that, given the price of groceries, we should rethink the way we eradicate invasive, but edible, species.

Gif of glitchy video game-style cars on highway
Research shows more highways don’t fix traffic congestion. So why is Ontario still building them?
By Emma McIntosh
Person standing in the middle of an old-growth forest with their hand on an old-growth tree.
‘The right direction’: B.C. plan could actually protect old-growth forests
By Sarah Cox

A truck wading through muddy flood water
A new approach to flood mapping could be on the way for Manitoba First Nations
By Julia-Simone Rutgers

What we’re reading

Hakai Magazine: Giving Bambi the Boot
Globe and Mail: Trees communicating via fungal networks has become a popular theory. These scientists say the evidence is scarce

How the Ontario government muzzled its Greenbelt Council

Over the past two years, the Ontario government moved to muzzle the council that advises it about the Greenbelt as it shuffled its work behind...

Continue reading

Recent Posts

Our members make The Narwhal’s ad-free, independent journalism possible. Will you join the pod?
Help power our ad-free, independent journalism
Investigating problems. Exploring solutions
The Narwhal’s reporters are telling environment stories you won’t read about anywhere else. Stay in the loop by signing up for a weekly dose of independent journalism.
Investigating problems. Exploring solutions
The Narwhal’s reporters are telling environment stories you won’t read about anywhere else. Stay in the loop by signing up for a weekly dose of independent journalism.