TORONTO, ON., Apr. 27, 2023 /CNW/ – The Canadian Association of Journalists (CAJ) is going to court to oppose an unreasonable police attempt to force a Toronto filmmaker to turn over his interviews and source material.
In March, the CAJ publicly condemned the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP)’s demand that Jamie Kastner hand over the raw footage of 17 interviews he conducted while preparing his TVO documentary “There Are No Fakes.”
“In democracies like Canada, journalists don’t work for the police,” said CAJ president Brent Jolly. “If the OPP succeeds in getting this raw footage, it will make it harder for all journalists to convince people to speak with them.”
Kastner’s work sparked a police investigation by Thunder Bay police and the OPP, and a number of people are now facing criminal charges in relation to the alleged forgeries. The police and Crown now claim they need Kastner’s material to help their investigation.
This claim beggars belief. Police have compiled 271 statements compared with Kastner’s 17. They’ve had 98 officers working on this compared with Kastner’s team of four. They’ve also seized 17 terabytes of data as part of the investigation.
Laura Dougan at Blakes is representing the CAJ in this matter on a pro bono basis.
“An independent press is vital in a free and democratic society,” said Dougan. “Protecting journalists’ source material from being turned over to the police helps to ensure that journalists can continue to provide Canadians with independent and informed reporting on issues of public importance.”
The interview footage remains sealed for now. In June, the Crown is scheduled to bring forward an application for a court order to release the raw footage. The CAJ will seek intervenor status to ensure the perspective and concerns of the Canadian journalistic community are shared with the court before it decides on this consequential issue.
The CAJ has long been fighting to uphold the principles of journalistic independence since our founding in 1978. In 2010, the Supreme Court ruled that the Globe and Mail could keep a confidential source’s identity secret. In 2019, we got a Supreme Court ruling stating that journalists should only have to reveal their sources as a last resort. In 2021, we won a legal fight against the RCMP in the B.C. Supreme Court.
The CAJ board of directors has affirmed that legal challenges constitute an important part of the association’s advocacy strategy. Individuals interested in supporting our work can learn more about our intervention policy on our Legal Advocacy website page. The CAJ welcomes monetary donations from individuals interested in supporting this critical pillar of our public-interest advocacy work.
The Canadian Association of Journalists is a professional organization with over 1,300 members across Canada. The CAJ’s primary roles are public-interest advocacy work and professional development for its members.
For further information: Brent Jolly, CAJ President, 289-387-3179, email@example.com