Courts and sources

Dean Jobb, |

Commentary – A
pair of Ontario court rulings recognize that a journalist may need to
promise confidentiality to protect a source. But that may not be enough
to stop the police and judges from demanding names if push comes to
shove. J-Source media law editor Dean Jobb looks for lessons in the National Post and Hamilton Spectator rulings.

Ontario’s Court of Appeal issued these seemingly contradictory rulings within a three-week span earlier this year. The result is a partial victory for press freedom and some understandable confusion about whether Canadian journalists have the right to protect a confidential source.

First, the good news. The country’s most influential appellate court has recognized that journalists may have to promise to protect the identity of sources in order to do their jobs.