The recent arrest of Rebel News journalist David Menzies by a police bodyguard for Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland was one of many assaults on press freedom by the Liberals, Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre says.

Menzies himself asked Poilievre to lay out what he’d do differently from the Liberal government on media regulations at a Winnipeg press conference Friday morning.

Poilievre pledged to rescind Bill C-11 and fight back against other censorship plans being imposed by the Liberal government. 

According to Poilievre, this legislation enables the selective promotion and demotion of information, as well as outright censorship — a practice he argues is absent in other democratic nations.

Poilievre emphasized the gravity of the situation, stating that even non-conservatives like renowned author Margaret Atwood recognize the danger, labelling the recent events as “creeping totalitarianism.”

“This is Margaret Atwood, not a conservative, obviously not a conservative, but she is an artist, a true artist who believes that freedom of expression and freedom of the press is necessary,” said Poilievre. 

“We’re going to stop arresting journalists. It’s outrageous for the Prime Minister, and his government to have journalists arrested merely for asking questions of ministers and public officials. And we’re going to make sure that the government does not give us tax dollars to leverage news coverage in its favour.”

Poilievre also alleged that the Liberal government’s actions were undermining Canadians’ confidence in the media. 

The incident in question occurred during a memorial service dedicated to the victims of Flight PS752, where Menzies was apprehended by law enforcement officers while attempting to question Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland on a public street. Although the arresting officer claimed Menzies had assaulted a police officer, Menzies was subsequently released without charges.

Poilievre spoke out about the arrest as videos of the incident were circulating on X by decrying the state of freedom of the press in Canada in 2024 after eight years of Trudeau’s leadership. 

Even X CEO Elon Musk joined the chorus of voices defending Menzies, illustrating the widespread concern over the incident.

Rebel News founder Ezra Levant announced the media organization’s intention to file a lawsuit against those involved, citing false arrest, false imprisonment, malicious prosecution, and assault as grounds for legal action.