Yukon newspaper/CBC in legal fight to name/withhold source

A bit of a strange legal case before the Yukon Supreme Court, involving the right to withhold a source versus the obligation of revealing a source in a defamation case. Basically, The Yukon News is asking the territorial Supreme Court to make the CBC reveal the identities of sources who spoke to reporter Nancy Thomson as part of an investigative series that aired in 2004. It gets more complicated, and I’m not sure the recent SCOC ruling on protecting sources will work here. No doubt it will go to SCOC, assuming people can afford to pay the legal fees.

CBC, March 17 2011


Supremes OK confidential sources, on a case by case basis

The Supreme Court of Canada has given legal recognition to the concept of journalists needing to keep their sources confidential, but only on a case by case basis; there is to be no sweeping ruling on the right to protect sources. Instead, journalists should be forced to reveal their sources only when there is no other alternative to get the information and when disclosure of sources’ identities is vital to the administration of justice, and that has to be balanced against other rights, such as that of the accused to know who his accuser is. So, back to Quebec Superior Court on the Adscam case; interesting to see how the law will be applied in this case. Not going to link to the Supreme’ ruling; unlike their landmark defamation ruling last December, this ruling is too dense and legalistic for me to follow.

Globe and Mail, October 23 2010

Ontario ponders anti-SLAPP law

Big business will launch Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPP) against community/advocacy groups which oppose their plans. The point is intimidation, and since public meetings/criticisms can involve colorful language stretching libel laws, sometimes they are effective in shutting down opposition. Quebec has anti-SLAPP legislation, now Ontario is considering it; every province should have it.

CBC, August 16 2010

Supreme Court nixes source confidentiality in Shawinigate case

Today the Supreme Court ruled 8 – 1 that the National Post doesn’t have a blanket right to protect a journalistic source, citing the need for other rights, like the right of a publicly accused person to defend him, to supercede confidentiality. It’s not as sweeping or definitive as its ruling last December on defamation, but it makes clear that journalists can’t assume confidentiality of sources, and that future cases will be determined on a case by case basis, juggling the right to protect a source from other rights. CBC has a  nice summary, and if you’re really keen, I’ve linked to the ruling itself.

CBC, May 7 2010

Supreme Court, May 7 2010

Supremes ponder confidential sources

Interesting summary in today’s Globe on the rights of media to withhold information to protect a source, and the right of an accused to know the identity of people bringing information against them. A bundle of cases are involved, and it will be a precedent-setter either way.

Globe and Mail, October 22 2009

Protection of sources case goes to Supreme Court

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case between media and police involving protection of media source. It relates to a brown envelope containing contentious information about Shawinigate (does every scandal, real or perceived, have to end in -gate?) Police want the envelope to investigate who leaked it; the media, recipients of the leak, don’t want to. Anyway, both the Globe and Post covered it today, but both seem blissfully unaware that just because a case goes to the Supreme Court doesn’t mean they will win it. There’s no telling if the Supremes will settle on either the media or police side. Stay tuned for this one; could be a serious precedent on protection of media sources, or at least provide some more clear guidelines than are now in place.

National Post, 26 September 2008

Montana judge extends MSM legal rights to NM

A District Court judge found that the state shield law that protects reporters from disclosing anonymous sources also protects the identity of anonymous commenters on a newspaper’s Web site. This is consistent with other New Media cases across North America that extends law designed for mainstream media, such as libel and defamation, to new media. It also works on the flip side: legal protection assigned to MSM, such as the US right for media to keep their sources confidential, extends to the blogosphere and other types of new media, including a newspaper’s website and commentary posts.

Billings (Montana) Gazette, 6 September 2008