Friday, February 29, 2008

Court concedes confidential sources

In a frustrating move for the journalistic community, the Ontario Court of Appeal has overturned a 2004 landmark ruling protecting the use of confidential sources.

The court reinstated a search warrant ordering The National Post to produce a document from reporter Andrew McIntosh said to be central to the "Shawinigate" investigation of former PM Jean Chretien.

In 2004, Ontario Superior Court justice Mary Lou Benotto became a hero to many Canadian journalists when she quashed the warrant, calling journalists' ability to protect their sources "essential" to media in a democracy.

"She called the proposed search unreasonable and a violation of the media's constitutionally protected right to freedom of expression and interfered with journalists' rights to protect sources," reports the Toronto Star.

"Without them, many important stories of public interest wouldn't have been published, she said, citing everything from Watergate to reports on hazardous waste dumping."

The Canadian Association of Journalists immediately issued a statement calling the ruling " a major setback for press freedom and the public's right to know."

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