Press freedom case set to hit Supreme Court

The National Post along with a coalition of media groups is set to ask the Supreme Court of Canada to consider whether journalists have a right to protect sources from the police.

The Post reports that the case will begin May 22 and the paper is asking the court to “to overturn an Ontario Court of Appeal ruling that the public interest
in police investigations trumps the Charter guarantee of free
expression.”

The legal issue began back in 2001 when Post investigative reporter Andrew McIntosh received a plain brown envelope from a source, which police wanted for a case. The Post now wants the court to overturn an order to give up the envelope (along with a document) that were given to McIntosh by a confidential source.

Marlys Edwardh, the Post‘s lawyer, said in arguments filed in the Supreme Court:

“This case provides an opportunity for this court to consider the extent to which the state may compel an innocent third-party mediaorganization to assist in a police investigation. The stories that would go untold in the absence of source confidentiality are likely to concern matters of significant public importance involving government or corporate wrongdoing.”

However, the Ontario government does not agree with the argument that sources will dry up if journalists are forced to reveal them

A legal brief from lawyers Robert Hubbard and Susan Magotiaux states:

“While journalist-source relations have never been the subject of an absolute class privilege in Canada, sources have continued to come forward.”

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