Harper government’s freedom of expression: A photographer and Palestine

Larry Towell

Larry Towell

Many Canadians are concerned about the duplicity of Harper’s espousal of “Canadian values” of tolerance, balance, and so on, and its use of “anti-terrorism” to suppress democratic rights. The freedom of expression of those championing the cause of the Palestinians is a case in point. His cabal uses its power to declare that the struggle of the Palestinian people is illegal and, on this basis, declares that any support for this struggle is “anti-semitic” and a hate crime against Canadian values.

 Larry Towell, a prominent Canadian photographer, is one of the latest subjects of an attempt by the Harper government to dictate what can and cannot be said by Canadians at home – or abroad, as in his case.

Towell has received many awards for his photographic work. He has published over a dozen books of photography from difficult corners of the world from central America to Afghanistan. He is the only Canadian photographer who is a member of the international Magnum Photos Agency of New York.

Towell regularly travels the world, often to complicated areas – investigating, doing photography and speaking. Among other places, he has visited Israel/Palestine, including Gaza. In 1999 he published a book “Then Palestine” and another in 2005 “No man’s Land”, both on the topic of the situation of the Palestinians. (The books are available through Amazon). Towell’s most recent interest is the situation in Ukraine.

Towell was recently invited to participate in a photographic festival to take place in January 2015 in Dacca, Bangladesh. The organizers offered to pay his local expenses and approached the Canadian High Commission for a grant to cover his airfare, a normal practice with Canadian artists invited to travel abroad.

However, they were stunned to hear from the High Commission that the Government of Canada would be prepared to cover Towell’s airfare on certain conditions. He had to agree to talk about Kiev and the Ukraine, where he had been recently, but on no account was he to talk about Gaza!!

“Obviously, I turned it down,” Towell told Peter Larson, a former syndicated columnist for Southam News, author of the blog Canada Talks, Israel-Palestine, and the source of this article. “Neither the organizers nor I would accept any form of censorship about what I can talk about.”

“Canada’s reputation for defending artistic freedom has not been enhanced in Bangladesh by this action,” concludes Mr Larson.

The cost of a return air fare ticket from Canada to Bangladesh is less than approximately $1,500.

It makes one wonder what Harper was doing in the Paris march posing under the veneer of the high ideals of freedom of expression and free speech.

Harper and his cronies can rehabilitate Ukrainian and German Nazis and call them freedom fighters while censoring photographers and journalists, imprison the champions of human emancipation, condone “evidence” procured from torture, trample underfoot well-established international laws and conventions, engage Canada in crimes against the peace and war crimes, sell out the country to foreign interests, etc. All notions of privileges or declaring who and what are legitimate on the basis of agreement with what are called Canadian values must be rejected and eliminated. It is not an academic question.

With a file from Peter Larson, Canada Talks, Israel-Palestine

Related reading on this website

The hypocrisy of Harper’s freedom of speech knows no bounds,” Pauline Easton, January 18, 2015

Intolerance in the name of tolerance,” Sam Heaton, January 18, 2015


Filed under Canada, Palestine

4 responses to “Harper government’s freedom of expression: A photographer and Palestine

  1. Robert groves

    I am grateful to those who keep tracking & reporting the egregious behaviour & practices of the current gov’t of Canada even tho 60% of Canadians appear to be asleep.


  2. Lou Musacchio

    Democracy is at peril under this lot of thugs, it’s urgent that we wake up, and alert all we can.


  3. Gag orders on Israeli war crimes from the Canadian government… Shameful, despicable behavior.


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