Fake journalist reveals how she crashed Trudeau’s news conference

Hayley Zacks and Jake Hubley posed as Burnaby Now reporters


Reported by Linda Nguyen 

An environmental activist who posed as a Burnaby Now reporter last week to sneak into a news conference to confront Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says she didn’t mean any disrespect to journalists.

But Hayley Zacks of Stand.earth did not rule out taking such measures again when asked by The Voice if she would repeat the stunt that allowed her and fellow activist Jake Hubley to disrupt Trudeau’s Nov. 15 news conference at the Vancouver Convention Centre.

“I can tell you I am going to do whatever it takes to stop Kinder Morgan,” Zacks said, pointing out the duo’s plan allowed them to challenge Trudeau on his decision to allow the Alberta-to-Burnaby pipeline.

How the pipeline opposers got in

Trudeau was in Vancouver for the United Nations peacekeeping summit, where he made an announcement to provide a 200-strong rapid-response team of soldiers for the UN.

Zacks said they easily got through security and police did not question them about claiming to be journalists.

“So basically, we went in saying that we were freelance journalists hired by the Burnaby Now, and we had registered with his press secretary the night before, ” Zacks said. “We proceeded to go through a round of security with the RCMP, where they checked our bags and then we were given temporary press passes.”

A few minutes into the news conference, Zacks and Hubley rose from their seats and told Trudeau they were speaking as young people and were frightened how climate change could affect their future.

“This was our only option to voice our opinion to the prime minister while he was in the city and especially because he was the minister of youth, ” she said, noting the RCMP and CSIS escorted them out of the convention centre and turned them over to the Vancouver Police Department, where they were held for three hours.

Trudeau’s safety was not jeopardized

Staff Sgt. Annie Linteau, a B.C. RCMP media relations officer, confirmed Zacks’ version of events in an email to The Voice. Linteau said the RCMP was responsible for security at the UN peacekeeping event and collaborated with their security partners, including the Vancouver Police Department, to “ensure a safe venue and event.”

“The individuals involved were arrested and turned over to the Vancouver Police Department,” Linteau said. “The Burnaby Now were notified of the incident.”

Staff Sgt. Tania Vaughan, a spokesperson for the RCMP in Ottawa, said in an email that the RCMP continuously reviews its security measures and practices to ensure a safe and secure environment for Trudeau. Vaughan added that “at no time was the security of the prime minister in question.”

Journalists being misrepresented

Pat Tracy, editor-in-chief for Burnaby Now, said in an email that she has no idea why Zacks and Hubley chose to misrepresent the Burnaby Now. Tracy said the incident has not affected how her staff will continue to do their jobs.

Harold Munro, editor-in-chief of The Vancouver Sun, said the protesters’ motives to pose as journalists and obtain media accreditation makes organizers wary of holding future news conferences.

“I don’t think anyone should lie and so they lied and deceived the organizers of that event, I don’t think that the end justifies the means,” said Munro. “I don’t want to give [the organizers] those kinds of outs, so no, I don’t appreciate it when people pose as journalists for a bunch of reasons.”

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