A Canadian press freedom organization has taken down a petition that called on Justin Trudeau to rescind Donald Trump's invitation to the G7 summit in Quebec in June after criticism.
Canadian Journalists for Free Expression had posted the petition on its website, writing that "repeated attacks by the Trump administration against press freedom and free expression have done enormous harm to American democracy."
"Admitting Trump for any occasion, summit or state visit presents a threat to Canadian values of pluralism and inclusion."
CJFE also called on Trudeau to come up with a way for a U.S. delegation to attend without Trump, and for summit security plans to comply with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
R.I.P. this tweet (and petition) pic.twitter.com/TCLyvc7FuV— one two three six (@1236) January 16, 2018
But a number of people on Twitter saw CJFE's campaign as ironic. They responded to a tweet promoting the petition that has since been deleted.
"Promote free expression by banning someone you disagree with. Got it," wrote James Dueck.
"Uh, no. that's not how this works," another person wrote.
Others said they weren't sure if it was real. One user tagged satirical news site The Onion.
CJFE promotions and communications coordinator Kevin Metcalf told HuffPost Canada that he took the petition down after a discussion with the organization's board.
He said that CJFE still agrees with the petition's sentiment, and that none of them necessarily want Trump to come to Canada, but decided that wading into international diplomacy fell outside of their mandate.
Many members of the press are also members of CJFE, he said.
"It would be a real shame if journalists attending the event were vetted out because of membership in our organization."
Certainly our goal is not to censor him, he's free to speak and say what he wants.
But in an earlier conversation, Metcalf disagreed with criticism that the petition promoted censoring the U.S. president.
"He's not coming here to speak," he said. "He's not here on an academic mission to university campuses, talking to students. It's a diplomatic function."
"Certainly our goal is not to censor him, he's free to speak and say what he wants. Our concern is not necessarily that he plans to speak, it's that while he's here in Canada, he's going to embolden a stronger authoritarian leaning in our politics, when [we] already see evidence of that without him being here."
He cited the arrest of more than 200 people at protests over Trump's inauguration, several of them journalists. Most of those detained were charged with felony rioting, according to Al-Jazeera. Some of the journalists saw their charges dropped, and photojournalist Alexei Wood was eventually acquitted.
More than 1,100 people were also arrested during Toronto protests over the G20 summit in 2010. Most of them were later released.
Metcalf said he worried that Trump's presence at the event in La Malbaie, Que. could influence security's response to protesters.
The U.S. president's June visit would be his first to Canada since he was inaugurated last year.
According to the RCMP website, a "free speech area" will be set up for protests during the leaders' meeting, saying that officers providing security "will ensure that the right to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression for all is respected."
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