Supreme Court ruling a ‘blow to press freedom’; media union vows to fight on

2018.11.30 | NEWS RELEASE

Press release graphic

OTTAWA — CWA Canada, the country’s only all-media union, is deeply disappointed with today’s Supreme Court decision ordering a reporter to hand over files to police, and is vowing to continue the fight to protect journalists’ sources.

The high court upheld a lower court ruling that VICE Media reporter Ben Makuch must give the RCMP material he gathered for stories about an alleged ISIS fighter.

CWA Canada President Martin O’Hanlon said the decision is bad news for freedom of the press and for democracy.

“I can’t express strongly enough how troubled I am with this ruling,” O’Hanlon said. “It has potentially devastating consequences for press freedom.”

“Police have an important job to do in protecting us from crime, but they cannot expect journalists to do that job for them. The media is not, nor should it ever be, an arm of the state.”

“It is vital for free speech and democracy that journalists guard the anonymity of their sources. If not, sources, including whistleblowers, will be far less likely to talk to journalists knowing that they could be identified and punished. The result? Canadians will be blocked from important information and stories about matters of vital public interest.”

O’Hanlon vowed to continue the fight by pushing the federal government to bolster the Journalistic Source Protection Act to better protect journalists’ sources.

“As a media union, we will speak out loudly to protect freedom of expression and the role of a free press as a pillar of democracy.”

CWA Canada was part of a coalition, including news companies and journalist organizations, that was granted intervener status in the case.

CWA Canada represents over 6,000 media workers at companies across the country, including the CBC, The Canadian Press, Thomson Reuters, and newspapers such as the Halifax Chronicle Herald, Montreal Gazette, Ottawa Citizen and Victoria Times Colonist. The union represents workers at VICE Canada through its biggest local, the Canadian Media Guild.

For more information, contact:
Martin O’Hanlon
President, CWA Canada
(613) 867-5090
mohanlon@cwa-scacanada.ca

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  1. Supreme Court rules against Vice Media in press freedom case - Capital Current

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