Thursday, October 28, 2010

Canada High Court Fails to Create Shield Law; Gives Nod to Reporter's Privilege

Supreme Court of Canada building, Ottawa, Onta...Image via Wikipedia
In Globe and Mail v. Attorney General of Canada, the Supreme Court of Canada this week fell short of creating a shield law for journalists, but conceded "some form of legal protection for the confidential relationship between journalists and their anonymous sources is required."

According to an account in The Globe and Mail, the High Court recognized a reporter's right to conceal the identity of a source if protection of the confidential source advances the public interest.  A Quebec Superior Court Judge two years ago ordered Globe and Mail reporter Daniel Leblanc to divulge the identity of  his anonymous source, dubbed MaChouette, to Le Groupe Polygone Editeurs, Inc., a Montreal media firm embroiled in a $35 million federal lawsuit seeking recovery of monies paid by a former Liberal government.

The Supreme Court of Canada upheld that reporter's privilege matters be evaluated on a case-by-case basis and declined to accord a constitutional shield to journalists to protect confidential sources. Nevertheless, the High Court did frown on subpoenaing reporters to gather information that may be available elsewhere, and suggested disclosure of confidential sources should be confined to situations in which the source's identity is vital to the administration of justice.
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