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

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