Journalists rely on their ability to protect a source’s identity when that person asks for anonymity in return for speaking about sensitive issues. However, few countries have absolute “shield laws” protecting a journalist’s right not to reveal a source’s identity. In Canada, the protection of sources is argued on a case-by-case basis, and they are often protected based on public interest arguments. However, many whistleblowers face dismissal if outed. They also may have to endure lengthy legal battles and vilification for coming forward and speaking up in the public interest. Canada has a dismal history of protecting whistleblowers (other than some cases where the media is seeking to protect their identity). Little appears to have changed despite the passing in 2007 of the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act and the creation of the Office of the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner.
The Supreme Court of Canada has agreed to hear a landmark case for press freedom in Canada. VICE News successfully sought leave to appeal an Ontario Court of Appeal ruling that VICE News reporter Ben Makuch must hand over all communications between him and an ISIS fighter to the RCMP. By agreeing to hear the case, the Supreme Court of Canada will have the opportunity to overturn a dangerous precedent and ensure that press freedom and the integrity of journalism in Canada are protected. Read more
Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) is disappointed that the House of Commons failed to pass Bill S-231, the Journalistic Source Protection Act, before rising for summer recess. By failing to pass the bill now the House has missed a crucial chance to taken a stand for press freedom, and to extend badly-needed protections to confidential sources. Its swift passage needs to be a priority when MPs return in the fall. Read more
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