Montreal reporter confronts hecklers weeks after similar incident in Toronto

A Montreal journalist confronted men who hurled sexually explicit remarks at her while she was conducting a video interview — an incident that bears a striking resemblance to a recent showdown between a Toronto reporter and a group of men that sparked a country-wide discussion about the troubling trend.

Jaela Bernstien, a CBC Montreal reporter, was conducting an interview on a city street when a group of men can be heard yelling vulgarities as they pass by.

In a video posted on her Facebook account, Bernstien then confronts the men and asks them, on camera, whether they thought their heckling was funny.

One man who covers his face says he thought the offensive language was “commentary.”

Another man says “you haven’t heard about this joke?”

Bernstien is then heard telling the men their comments are rude and make fun of rape.

“I confronted them because I don’t think we should stay silent. I think that’s a big problem,” Bernstien said in an interview.

“We’re silenced often because it’s screamed or shouted at us while we’re in the middle of live hit and we need to stay professional because we’re on live TV. I had the advantage of not being on live TV so I wanted them to answer for what they did. And I wanted to show them I’m not a silent woman.”

The 26-year-old reporter said she then posted the video of the Thursday encounter online because she wanted to bring attention to the issue.

“I wanted to show people that this isn’t ok and if it happens, we’re going to confront you,” she said, adding that vulgarities have been yelled at her while she was working in the past, but always involved men who were either in cars or too far away for her to confront.

“This was an instance where I could confront them immediately and say hey this isn’t ok, and here’s why.”

Bernstien’s entire experience echoes a confrontation between a Toronto reporter and a group of men a few weeks ago that resulted in one of the men losing his job.

In that case, reporter Shauna Hunt confronted several men about their apparent plans to use vulgarities as she did fan interviews at a Toronto FC soccer game. The man fired over the incident apologized for his actions.

The incident set social media abuzz, with many discussing the trend which has been plaguing journalists in the United States and Canada since last year.

The practice has been publicly condemned by two Canadian police forces and Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne.

Diana Mehta, The Canadian Press

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