Notice of Hearing by the Ontario Press Council

Sept. 9, 2013 at Ryerson University

The Ontario Press Council will hold two hearings in response to complaints it has received relating to two newspaper publications:

1.     An article published by the Toronto Star, dated May 16th, 2013 entitled “Rob Ford in ‘crack cocaine’ video scandal”

2.     An article published by the Globe and Mail, dated May 25th, 2013 entitled “Globe investigation: The Ford family’s history with drug dealing”

The Council will proceed with one of the complaints received in relation to each article. The complainant in the Toronto Star case is Darylle Donley. The complainant in the Globe and Mail case is Connie Harrison. The other complainants will be invited to the hearing as observers and the Council will consider their complaints following its determination of these two matters.

The Council has determined that the issue to be addressed in each of the two hearing is whether the newspaper has engaged in irresponsible, unethical investigative reporting.

More specifically, the following points will be addressed:

(a)  In relation to the Toronto Star article:

–         Did the article deal with a matter that is in the public interest?

–         Were adequate efforts made to verify the allegations?

–         Was Mr. Rob Ford given adequate notice of the allegations and a reasonable opportunity to respond, and did the newspaper include that response in its reporting?


(b) In relation to the Globe and Mail article:

–          Did the article deal with a matter that is in the public interest?

–          Were adequate efforts made to verify the allegations?

–          Was Mr. Doug Ford given adequate notice of the allegations and a reasonable opportunity to respond and did the newspaper include that response in its reporting?

–         Was it appropriate for the newspaper to include references to other members of the Ford family?


When assessing the complaints against the two publications, the Council will consider each newspaper’s own code of conduct, relevant Court judgments and past decisions of Council in similar cases.

Both hearings will be held on Sept. 9 at Ryerson University. The complaint against the Toronto Star will be heard starting at 10 a.m. and the complaint against the Globe and Mail will be held starting at 1 p.m. The hearings at Ryerson will be held at the Sears Atrium, third floor of the George Vari Engineering and Computer Centre, 245 Church Street. Parking is located on the west side of Church, north of Dundas.


After hearing the submission of the complainant and newspaper in each case and asking questions, the panel will adjourn and deliberate in private. The panel’s findings and recommendations will be presented to the full Press Council when it meets in late September. Following those deliberations, the Press Council decisions will be made public and posted on its web site.  

Also attached is a description of the Press Council procedures.

Ontario Press Council Procedure  

The Ontario Press Council is an independent body which considers specific unsatisfied complaints made by the public against its 150 member news organizations. Complaints considered by the Council involve journalistic practices and proper ethical standards.   

The Council provides an efficient and effective way for the public to deal with issues of concern without launching legal proceedings, which can become lengthy and costly.

In reaching its decisions, the Council considers appropriate journalistic practices, including fairness and accuracy, as well as issues of ethical concerns, sources utilized, decisions by the Courts and the news organization’s own guidelines and codes of conduct.

The Press Council consists of 15 members, the majority of whom are from the public with a history of effective public and professional service, including the chair. The minority of the Council members are selected from member news organizations. When a complaint is directed at the news operation of a Council member, he/she must immediately declare a conflict of interest and is excused from all deliberations concerning the complaint.

Established in 1972, the Ontario Council is the largest in Canada and has considered more than 4,000 complaints since it was formed. Each year, the Press Council receives an average of more than 100 complaints and several of these are the subject of a public hearing. Since its inception, decisions resulting from hearings by the Press Council have been approximately 50 per cent in favour of the complainants.

Complaints must be sent in writing to the Press Council so that the Council process can be followed. All complaints are forwarded to the appropriate news organization for a response. If the complainant remains unsatisfied with the response, the Council is asked to consider the matter. Council will then deliberate and, if a complaint is dismissed, post a decision on its web site. If Council decides a public hearing is warranted, a panel of members, the majority consisting of public representatives, is selected and both sides of the dispute are notified of a date and location.

 At a hearing, both sides are asked to restate their positions and present any additional submissions considered relevant by the hearing chair. The panel then asks questions and may ask for additional information from each side. Following the hearing, the panel adjourns in private and provides the full Council with a report and recommendation.

Following deliberations, Council will reach a decision and, if the complaint is upheld, the decision must be published unedited by the news organization. All hearing decisions are posted on the Ontario Press Council web site.

Any questions regarding the Council and its processes may be directed to the Executive Director of the Ontario Press Council by emailing

Tamara Baluja is an award-winning journalist with CBC Vancouver and the 2018 Michener-Deacon fellow for journalism education. She was the associate editor for J-Source from 2013-2014.