Canada falls in press freedom rankings this year

“The news got a little less free in Canada this year,” reports The Canadian Press.

This year’s Press Freedom Index from Reporters Without Borders was recently released and Canada fell to 19th in the ranking last year to 13th for 2009.

The group stated that court challenges to journalists’ rights to protect their sources caused the drop in position.

Dennis Trudeau, a spokesperson for the Reporters Without Borders Canadian chapter, told CP that lawsuits aimed at silencing critics because of the cost of legal defence (known as SLAPP suits or strategic lawsuits against public participation) were also a part of the problem.

The cases of Globe and Mail reporter Daniel Leblanc is an example.

In addition, the use of Human Rights Commissions, the weakness of fredom of information legislation and the difficulty in obtaining even the most basic government information have been cited as troubled areas when it comes to press freedom in Canada.