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Globe and Mail reporter Colin Freeze, left, and columnist André Picard were among those honoured Wednesday by the Canadian Civil Liberties Association with Excellence in Journalism awards.

The Globe and Mail

Globe and Mail reporter Colin Freeze and columnist André Picard were among those honoured Wednesday by the Canadian Civil Liberties Association with Excellence in Journalism awards for their efforts promoting democracy and fundamental rights for all Canadians.

There were 17 honorees, including Louise Arbour, former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michael Wilson, mental health advocate and former Canadian ambassador to the United States, and Cherie Booth Blair, founder of the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women.

Mr. Freeze was selected "for his courageous and relentless pursuit of the truth against the lower machinations of state power and unearthing secret documents."

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His work has focused on the practices of Canadian spy agencies, particularly those measures involving the collection of information using telecommunications. The CCLA highlighted Mr. Freeze's work unearthing secret Communications Security Establishment Canada and Canadian Security Intelligence Service documents and directives.

In a statement, the CCLA noted that in the wake of the attack on Parliament, calls for additional powers for police and security agencies should be subjected to full scrutiny and debate.

Mr. Picard was cited for his "relentless coverage of the difficult and painful stories that need to be told and his fierce commitment to the right of health and human dignity." In particular, the CCLA noted Mr. Picard's work on mental health, AIDS and blood transfusion.

"As we celebrate 50 years of CCLA fighting for civil liberties, we recognize too the efforts of our colleagues in other fields. We chose André Picard and Colin Freeze because of their relentless efforts to report the truth behind stories whether in national security or public health," said Sukanya Pillay, executive director and general counsel of CCLA.

David Walmsley, The Globe and Mail's editor-in-chief, said: "Our journalists enrich the lives of all those who read their work. Mr. Picard and Mr. Freeze work in separate but vital areas of concern. Mr. Picard has been long considered the leading journalist covering health policy issues, and it is with pride we recognize this tribute. For Mr. Freeze, a reporter who has spent the last decade working on national security – among the most difficult-to-nail topics imaginable – it is heartening for his work to be recognized. National security as a file isn't going to get any easier in the years to come."

The CCLA also honoured: Hossam Bahgat, founder and former executive director of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights; Dr. Cindy Blackstock, executive director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada; Cree activist Tina Keeper; the CBC's Adrienne Arsenault; musician and educator Wab Kinew; writer-director Robert Lepage; Dennis O'Connor, former associate chief justice of Ontario; Michael H. Posner, former assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labour under Hillary Clinton; Nathalie Des Rosiers, former general counsel at the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and dean of common law at the University of Ottawa; Anthony Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union; and the Very Rev. Lois Wilson, former president of the World Council of Churches. The Lifetime Achievement Award went to A. Alan Borovoy, general counsel emeritus at the CCLA.

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