EPS versus Progress
Local news site’s media accreditation under review,
but police won’t say why
By Dustin Scott
FOR THE SECOND time in two years, Progress Report‘s Duncan Kinney has been banned from Edmonton Police news conferences – and he says he doesn’t have a clue why.
During a police commission meeting March 17, it was revealed that the EPS had revoked the alternative news site’s media credentials.
Kinney, publisher-editor of the Progress Report, has since filed a complaint, drafted by his lawyer, against Edmonton police Chief Dale McFee:
“The actions by Chief McFee in arbitrarily, without stating any reasons, and without providing an opportunity to be heard in revoking the media credentials, are deeply undemocratic and offensive,” the complaint states.
“Even if the EPS eventually restores the media credentials, irreparable damage has been caused to the reputation of the Edmonton Police Service and the Office of the Chief of Police.
“It is antithetical to the role of the Chief of Police for him to behave in this fashion.”
EPS spokesperson Cheryl Voordenhout refused to elaborate on the decision for The Magpie.
“The Edmonton Police Service (EPS) has undertaken a review of the Progress Report‘s status as an accredited media outlet with the Service. While the process is being completed by our Legal and Regulatory Services Division, the Progress Report has been taken off of the EPS media list. We are unable to provide further comment on the Progress Report‘s status until the review is finished.”
Kinney has had several recent run-ins with the police, notably breaking the story that the EPS owned a secret plane, which Deputy Chief Kevin Brezinski defended with: “This plane hasn’t been secret, but it has not been publicized for operational reasons.”
There was also a very contentious Q and A at a Feb. 16 press conference between Kinney and McFee, about police enforcement of bylaws, when it came to the recent convoy that disrupted downtown on consecutive weekends recently.
The acting legal counsel for the news site, Tom Engel, wrote in the complaint: “Without knowing the basis for the revocation and the review, it is impossible not to conclude that the only reasonable explanation is Chief McFee decided to muzzle a media outlet that was critical of the Edmonton Police Service. Chief McFee’s unacceptable treatment of my clients during the Feb. 16, 2022, media conference is part of the evidence supporting that inference. It is to be observed this may be part of a broader recent approach by the Edmonton Police Service in how it has chosen to handle its critics.”
In an interview, Kinney told The Magpie that he had received a letter from EPS head of legal services Geoff Crowe about a week before the March 17 meeting, which said the EPS would “not entertain your requests for information, documents or statements and you and the Progress Report will be taken off our media list.”
“No reason was given,” KInney says. “From the other journalists that I’ve spoken to, we are the only organization that this has happened to that I am aware of.
“It’s a curious decision, when they could have just carried on like they always do, and barely answer my questions anyway.”
During the March 17 police commission meeting, Crowe refused to explain the EPS’s position, stating that police had retained independent counsel.
Crowe responded to Kinney’s questions by saying his access was not revoked, but rather was under review, and that this “was a completely inappropriate forum for that.”
O’day’min Coun. Anne Stevenson, who is on the police commission, questioned the justification for revoking access, asking what policy led this decision, and observing that there didn’t seem to be one.
Crowe replied that he could not talk about any other reviews or what triggers a review.
“There’s not a definite and finite list of that.”
Stevenson responded: “So, there’s not a set-out process. That’s what I’m hearing.”
Police commission chair John McDougall made a motion for the EPS to review its media policies, including what triggers a review.
“I think if there’s this many questions, that signifies the need for a review.”
The motion passed.
This isn’t the first time the EPS has revoked Kinney’s access. In July 2020, EPS spokesman Scott Pattison told him that the police did not consider Progress Report a “media partner,” according to an article on the site.
“It’s my understanding, after dealing with his whole process 18 months ago, that they had to create a whole process for dealing with me,” Kinney said. “I don’t believe any other media outlet has had to apply like I had to apply.”
Coun. Michael Janz expressed shock over the EPS decision.
“This is a completely unforced error by the EPS, and all it does is antagonize a local media outlet. It is in no way going to affect the Progress Report‘s ability to do its job.
“We are once again seeing the EPS bristle under even the tiniest bit of scrutiny. Dale McFee has demonstrated a dismissive attitude towards the media, and there is just no need for it. It’s completely antithetical to their own statements of working with the community.”
Now, Kinney says, “I believe this is an attempt to silence a known critic.”