First test passed for the Law on the protection of journalistic sources

Premier test pass? pour la Loi sur la protection des sources journalistiques

First successful test for the new Law on the protection of journalistic sources. Journalists Marie-Maude Denis de Radio-Canada and Louis Lacroix, Cogeco and The News will not have to disclose information identifying their sources, such as the demand for the defense in the trial of Marc-Yvan C?t?, Nathalie Normandeau, and their four co-defendants.

The judge Andr? Perreault of the Court of Qu?bec rendered a judgment developed from 34 pages to cancel the subpoenas of two journalists to investigation.

In beginning its analysis, the court Frequently emphasises that its decision is part of a new legislative framework, with the adoption last October 18, the Law on the protection of journalistic sources, which has come to change the Law of evidence in Canada.

The lawyers of Marc-Yvan C?t?, former chairman of the board of Roche accused of fraud and corruption, wanted to hear the reporters to know the origin of the casting in the investigations of the UPAC for their client.

The information will be used to advocate a request for a stay of proceedings, citing the numerous leaks in media and their impacts on the rights of the accused to a fair and just trial.

The prosecution has admitted that at least one employee of the State would be involved in the casting, the source of multiple reports on Investigation and in The News. Person to the public prosecutor’s office would know the name of this employee.

The judge Perreault agrees that the information that wish to obtain the applicants, the identity of journalistic sources, are relevant.

In assessing the importance of the freedom of the press and of the consequences of a disclosure on the careers of two journalists, the judge comes to the conclusion that “the applicants have not demonstrated that the interest in the administration of justice outweighs the public interest in preserving the confidentiality of journalistic sources”.

Marie-Maude Denis and Louis Lacroix stated under oath that their sources have required that their identity remains confidential, what the two journalists are committed, without which the information received had not been communicated.

The two journalists were also told to ignore the identity of their sources.

“It is expected that the testimony of the two journalists had little chance to allow applicants to go back to the sources and even more up to the employees of the State to the origin of the casting,” wrote the judge Perreault.

Not a “hunting ripous”

The journalist Louis Lacroix was contacted by a certain “Pierre”, who was said to have started 1500 pages of evidence amassed by the UPAC and proposed to him to pass the files on a cd-rom. The meeting between the source and the journalist will never happen.

The lawyer of Marc-Yvan C?t? proposed to listen to the journalist Lacroix different voices of “suspects” for which he identifies the “rock” in the court room.

The judge Andr? Perreault does not approve the proposed method. “The courts must not become an investigative body where these last fail, writes the judge. This is not their role to engage in a hunt for employees ripous of the State”.

The lawyer of Marc-Yvan C?t?, Me Jacques Larochelle, has announced that it will review the possibility to appeal the judgment.

The lawyer representing the two journalists, mr. Christian Leblanc, looked forward to this first application “very encouraging”, according to him, the federal act on the protection of journalistic sources.

“There has always been pressure on journalists to reveal their sources, notes Me Leblanc. The good news is that today, it has instruments to counter it.”

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