Canadian journalists will face fines for commenting on the striking action of trade unionists under new legislation passed in the province of Alberta. As reported by Index on Censorship earlier this week Bill 45 and Bill 46 will see heavy sanctions placed on those who partake in illegal picketing or comment publicly on those doing so. Both bills passed through their third and final readings on Wednesday 4 December, in front of a full gallery of concerned members of the public
Journalists now face fines of $500 a day for any comments made regarding support for union strikes. Alongside this, Bill 45 also limits the discussion of striking action or threats to strike by civil servants, fining unions $1 million a day unless they are able to convince a court they were not responsible for or encouraging of the striking talk.
Don Braid said in the Calgary Herald this week: “It’s hard to imagine a more blatant violation of free speech, a right that always implies a certain social anarchy to function usefully. People are not allowed to break laws, but they are permitted, except in obvious cases of threatening harm, to talk about challenging, testing, pushing or even breaking them. The offence is in the breaking, not the talking. But not for Alberta’s public unions. Talking is now pretty much illegal.”
An earlier version of this article referred to Alberta as a state. It is a province.