Alberta’s Bill 45—which imposes fines for illegal strikes and bans counselling encouragement to strike—does not affect columnists and news reporters, said the press secretary for deputy premier Dave Hancock. 

By Tamara Baluja, Associate Editor

Alberta’s Bill 45—which imposes fines for illegal strikes and bans counselling encouragement to strike—does not affect columnists and news reporters.

As J-Source reported earlier in the month, some critics were concerned that the bill could be read as banning anyone—including editorial writers, newspaper columnists or broadcast commentators—from saying anything that could be considered encouragement to strike. The bill also imposes a $500-a-day fine on anyone who breaks the rules, and the fine applies for as long as the contravention continues, which presumably would mean as long as a comment remained accessible online.

Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) called the bill an “unprecedented and unacceptable attack on freedom of expression.” The law is a direct assault on the free expression guarantees in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, said Peter Jacobsen, chair of CJFE’s Canadian Issues Committee.


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However, Craig Loewen, press secretary to Alberta deputy premier Dave Hancock, told the Canadian Association of Journalists in an emailed statement that journalists “will not face fines under Bill 45.”

“It is important to know that the law does not impact casual conversation, news reporting or a blogger posting an opinion,” Loewen said. “Section 4(4) is not violated if journalists comment on existing illegal strikes, or in support of future illegal strikes.”


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