Ontario lifts court file restriction

Toronto (April 1, 2009) – The Ontario government has reversed a controversial policy that blocked access to court files in cases subject to a publication ban. Journalists objected to the policy for years, arguing it made it difficult to fully and accurately cover criminal cases. In announcing the change, Attorney General Chris Bentley said openness strengthens the justice system and “it’s in the interests of everybody in the province of Ontario” to have “as much in the way of access to information as possible.” Media lawyers say the move is overdue and brings Ontario in line with practices in other provinces, which recognize that journalists can review a court file even if certain information is banned from publication.
Read the Toronto Star and Globe and Mail reports, and the commentary “Rolling back secrecy on court files,” published in the Toronto Star.
Review the revised Section 2.2.6 of Ontario’s Policies and Procedures on Public Access to Court Files, Documents and Exhibits.