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Quebec court is wrong to demand Radio-Canada journalist sources: CAJ

OTTAWA, Mar. 24, 2018 — A Quebec Superior Court demand that Radio-Canada investigative journalist Marie-Maude Denis reveal confidential sources is wrongheaded and damaging to constitutionally guaranteed press freedom, said the Canadian Association of Journalists.

A ruling handed down by Justice Jean-François Émond calls on Denis to identify sources who came forward as part of her investigation into alleged conclusion in the awarding of public contracts in Quebec. A wide variety of press-freedom groups swiftly condemned Émond’s decision, which comes as VICE News reporter Ben Makuch prepares for his appeal at the Supreme Court of an RCMP order to disclose his own confidential sources.

“Just months after Canada introduced a press-shield law meant to protect confidential sources, a judge is ignoring the spirit of that law,” said CAJ president Nick Taylor-Vaisey. “A healthy democracy makes room for whistleblowers to have confidential conversations with journalists. These rulings put a chill on people who want to come forward.”

Public officials, including the sponsor of the groundbreaking press-shield law, Claude Carignan, rightly expressed concern at the ruling. Carignan said he was “very disappointed,” and Quebec MNA Nathalie Roy, a former journalist, found the decision “troubling.”

Canadian reporters have a history of defending their rights in the face of police intimidation. When the Mounties raided Ottawa Citizen journalist Juliet O’Neill’s home in 2004 after she had reported exhaustively on Maher Arar’s case, they threatened her with prosecution under the Security of Information Act. The courts struck down the information-sharing sections of that law and affirmed O’Neill’s right of free expression.

The CAJ joins press-freedom groups, including the Fédération professionnelle des journalistes du Québec, in supporting Radio-Canada’s intent to appeal the ruling.

The CAJ is Canada's largest national professional organization for journalists from all media, representing about 600 members across the country. The CAJ's primary roles are to provide public-interest advocacy and high-quality professional development for its members.

For more information:

Nick Taylor-Vaisey
647.968.2393
nick@caj.ca

 

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