Blanket ban on Stafford case attacked as ‘absurd’

Canada’s leading newspapers and media law experts have condemned a sweeping publication ban imposed April 30 on a hearing in the Tori Stafford murder case.

Justice Dougald McDermid of Ontario’s Superior Court of Justice prohibited the media from reporting what happened when Terri-Lynne McClintic, one of two people accused of the eight-year-old’s 2009 abduction and murder, was scheduled to appear in court in Woodstock.  The Globe and Mail ran a front-page editorial on May 1 calling the ban “absurd” and “a danger to Canadians.” 

The Toronto Star said it will challenge the scope of the temporary ban and warned in an editorial that “rumour and innuendo will replace solid reporting” if it stands. Star columnist Rosie DiManno says the ban “cheats Canadians” who have a right to follow the high-profile case, and underlined her point in another column in which the banned information was blacked out. Meanwhile, Ontario’s NDP justice critic and media law experts contend the ban goes too far and flies in the face of the Charter’s guarantee of press freedom.