A video circulating on X (formerly Twitter) by Rebel News shows reporter, David Menzies, forcefully arrested by an RCMP officer for assaulting him have sparked global outrage and calls into question the charge against him.
Now, let’s start by saying we are not very familiar with Rebel News or their reporter David Menzies and his normal conduct as a news reporter, however for this particular incident it looks like he has done nothing wrong as a news reporter.
On January 8, 2024, as David Menzies was following the Deputy Prime Minister of Canada and who is also the Minister of Finance, Chrystia Freeland, trying to ask her questions about why her government has not designated the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist entity bumped into an RCMP officer in front of him and the RCMP officer forcefully apprehended Menzies and charged him for assault.
You can watch the video yourself and make your own judgment, but it appears as though when David Menzies was following the Deputy Prime Minister the RCMP positioned himself in a way that would cause a minor bump and this led to him grabbing Menzies and arresting him for assault.
Why is this news? It is concerning this seemly innocuous interaction between a news reporter and an RCMP can lead to him being charged with assault. A bump? Really? Not too long ago we had a protest inside the Eaton Centre shopping mall where a protester said to the police officers or someone else that he would bury him 6 feet deep and yet no action by the police officers to detain him for threatening them or the public at that moment.
And yet this little bump can be constituted as an assault by the RCMP. We the public should all be concerned as this calls into question what has happened to Canada, a democratic country where our Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, and Chrystia Freeland speak of press freedom when it comes to other countries, but for our very own to be treating our citizen this way is deeply troubling. The irony of this is that our Deputy Prime Minister’s last name is “Freeland”. We cannot be selective in determining who is the press and who is not, considering David Menzies identified himself as having his press credentials.
Nevertheless, we want to give this RCMP officer the benefit of the doubt and say that he was maybe overzealous in doing his job to protect the Deputy Prime Minister, especially with recent events around the world where politicians in Japan and South Korea, two other democratic allies have been killed or serious injured due to security lapses.
We want to give this RCMP the benefit of the doubt, but we can’t. Why? It is because he is an officer of the law and we have to hold him to a higher standard. And for him to charge a person for assault based on this particular incident which he, himself, seems to have instigated should give every Canadian pause for concern in our legal institution.
And to make matters worse, there is another officer with a beard who is backing him up his colleagues’ claim of assault. This is why trust in the police, especially by the black community and other minority groups is surely lacking. This is why some with their encounter with the police either resist or try to flee.
With this single error in judgment, this RCMP officer and those who colluded with him will have their actions past, present, and future scrutinized and called into question, especially when it comes to arresting people.
The better option for the RCMP would have been to ask the Rebel News reporter to step back and give the Deputy Prime Minister space for her safety. As a protection unit, we would hope that the RCMP officers would be aware of who would potentially approach the Deputy Prime Minister for such questioning in advance.
However, let’s not paint the other police officers who try to do a good job with the same brush as many honestly fulfill their duties to uphold and protect the rule of law.
It was later noted that RCMP Constable Lisa Moskaluk, a media relations officer with York police, eventually let David Menzies go without charge as they said “It was determined that no credible security threat existed and the subject was released unconditionally shortly thereafter.”
With the global concerns and outrage, we suspect that this was the right choice, and as can be seen, having videos of police interaction is more important than ever to protect yourself and law enforcement from frivolous claims on both sides.