Global TV crews may have reason to be leery of protestors these days, after anti-globalization demonstrators smashed and torched a Global station wagon during the Summit protests in Quebec City.
But has the TV network gone so far as to hire notorious Accu-Fax security guards to protect its camera crews during anti-poverty demonstrations?
That's the impression some crowd members were left with when a beefy goon in an Accu-Fax T-shirt was drummed out of last Friday's OCAP rally in Christie Pits.
New Socialist Group member Shiraz Rawat says he spoke with a Global TV camera operator who claimed the hired muscle was working for them. Hotel and Restaurant Employees rep Bill Fitzpatrick says he overheard the Accu-Fax guard explaining to puzzled police officers that he was there protecting members of a media firm whose name he didn't specify. Police eventually escorted the mysterious "media guard" from the gathering.
A call to Global TV news director Paul Rogers elicited a "no comment." Calls to Accu-Fax president Darrell Parsons were not returned.
But if Global is in fact hiring Accu-Fax guards, they would not be the first Toronto media corporation to do so. Accu-Fax security guards, decked out in paramilitary gear and armed with video cameras, policed the recent Sing Tao workers' strike against Torstar.
In any event, labour supporters who are already angered by what they consider to be Accu-Fax's big-brother monitoring style and strike-breaking tactics have scheduled a June 20 protest outside Accu-Fax offices in Streetsville. No word yet on whether Global will be covering the demonstration.Imprisoned OCAP organizer John Clarke has a June 21 bail hearing in Oshawa, but few are predicting that the anti-poverty agitator will be released in time to lead his coalition's anti-Harris "economic disruption" campaign this fall.
Clarke, who was arrested June 15 in connection with OCAP's June 12 "eviction" of Tory MPP Jim Flaherty from his Whitby constituency office, faces additional charges of violating his bail conditions after last year's raucous June 15 Queen's Park protest.
Defence lawyer Bob Kellerman says the Crown seems determined to keep Clarke behind bars until the trial for the June 15, 2000, charges gets underway. If this happens, the Queen's Park demo case, originally scheduled to begin in January 2002, will likely be moved up to late summer or autumn of this year.
The chances of fellow OCAP organizer Sue Collis leaving jail June 22 seem much better, Kellerman reports. Collis, who was re-arrested June 15 on charges that she violated her bail conditions in the Flaherty case by speaking at that day's OCAP rally at Christie Pits, will argue that her conditions actually allowed her to participate in such events. Calls to the Durham region Crown's office regarding the OCAP bail hearings were not returned by press time.
But even if Collis's bail conditions are interpreted to mean that she had no right to speak at the rally, says Kellerman, such a ruling would likely be unconstitutional.
"There's no question that stopping someone from speaking at a peaceful rally is an infringement of their freedom of expression," he says. "I can't imagine any justification for it."