Joseph Howe, the courageous editor of the Novascotian, has long been the poster-boy for freedom of speech and freedom of the press in Canada. His exposes of government corruption in Halifax in 1835, his prosecution on a trumped-up libel charge, the eloquent six-hour speech that won his acquittal – these are the stuff of legend. In Joseph Howe & The Battle for Freedom of Speech, John Ralston Saul revisits Howe’s moment of triumph and explores the role of the media in Canada today.
Continue Reading Joe Howe, revisited
Avoiding a defamation suit can be a tricky business. But a series of rulings, including an influential precedent from Britain’s House of Lords, promises to give the Canadian media more leeway to publish or broadcast serious allegations — even unproven ones — in the public interest. The best defence may be good, solid journalism. By David A. Crerar.
Continue Reading Expanding the defence of qualified privilege
The Toronto Star is appealing a northern Ontario jury’s $1.475 million libel award –one of the highest in Canadian history – over an article describing a wealthy local businessman’s plans to expand his personal lakeside golf course. The Star argues the June 2001 article should be protected by the defence of “qualified privilege,” which gives the media wide latitude to publish controversial opinions on matters of substantial public interest. By Peter Small.
Continue Reading Star appeals $1.5m libel award
The Supreme Court of Canada has denied leave to appeal from the Ontario Court of Appeal decision in the case of Bangoura v. Washington Post. The decision finally decides that Bangoura’s Internet-libel claim cannot proceed in Ontario and cements an important precedent against libel-tourism in Ontario. The Washington Post‘s lawyers, Paul Schabas and Ryder Gilliland, comment.
Continue Reading Libel-tourism suffers setback in Canada
Charles LeBlanc fights for bloggers to share press privileges– and rights. Vanessa Green, writing in the King’s Journalism Review, explores how the Internet is changing the definition of journalist.
Continue Reading New Brunswick’s amateur journalist
Two San Francisco Chronicle reporters have been cleared of contempt of court for refusing to name a source who leaked secret grand jury testimony about steroid use by major league baseball players. The reporters still refuse to identify their source but a lawyer faces fines or jail after admitting he allowed the journalists to take notes of the grand jury transcripts. See the March 2, 2007 Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press posting for details.
Continue Reading Reporters off hook for shielding steriod-use source
The Criminal Code of Canada bans the publication or broadcast of certain information as a criminal case proceeds through the courts, including the identities of some witnesses and pre-trial evidence that could taint a jury. Roger McConchie, who practices media law in Vancouver, has assembled a list of the relevant provisions.
Continue Reading Criminal Code publication bans
In the wake of the Maher Arar case, Toronto Star columnist Kelly Toughill looks at the pitfalls reporters and editors face when using anonymous sources. Respected news outlets printed false allegations about Arar gleaned from anonymous sources. There have been calls for journalists to “out” anonymous sources who mislead themand the public, but Toughill argues this would cause more harm than good.
Continue Reading The perils of anonymous sources