CFE and its Coalition Partners Granted Intervenor Status in Appeal of Vice Media Canada Case

Chief Justice Strathy of the Ontario Court of Appeal has granted leave to intervene to a coalition of eight organizations, including the Centre for Free Expression, in the appeal of a court order requiring VICE Canada national security reporter Ben Makuch to hand over all notes and communications between him and a suspected ISIS fighter to the RCMP.

“Journalists cannot do their jobs of informing the public on controversial issues if they are forced to hand over notes from their discussions with confidential sources,” said James L. Turk, Director of the Centre for Free Expression.

“If journalists can be conscripted by the police to help in their investigations, the willingness of informants to share vital information with journalists will dry up, and the public will be the loser”, Turk said.

VICE has argued that all relevant information about alleged ISIS fighter has already been published in various articles and interviews, and that this demand for notes and communications is merely part of an RCMP fishing expedition.

Members of the coalition granted leave to intervene include Canadian Journalists for Free Expression, CBC, Canadian Media Lawyers Association, Canadian Association of Journalists, Canadian Media Guild, Reporters Without Borders, Aboriginal Peoples Television Network as well as the Centre for Free Expression.

The appeal will be heard in the spring of 2017.