Safeguarding Confidential News Sources? Assessing the Protections in the Federal Journalistic Sources Protection Act
Perspectives on Evidentiary Privileges, Dr. Christopher D.L. Hunt, ed (Toronto: Thomson Reuters, 2019).
26 Pages Posted: 1 Apr 2019 Last revised: 14 Jul 2020
Date Written: 2019
The monograph, edited by Dr. Chris Hunt, examines various aspects of the law of privilege in Canada. This book chapter analyzes protections with respect to journalist-source communications in Canadian evidence law. After first explaining the application of the so-called case-by-case privilege to such communications and its limitations, the chapter then focuses attention on the statutory protections set out in the Journalistic Sources Protection Act which amends the Canada Evidence Act. The chapter scrutinizes the new statutory protections and their limitations, in addition to drawing comparisons with similar legislation in New Zealand.
This chapter fits into my larger research agenda, which explores the intersections between law and resistance. The form of resistance discussed in this work is the conduct of journalistic sources who disclose confidential information about pressing matters of public concern to journalists. Journalists in turn then reveal the information to the public. Such unauthorized disclosures may relate to and expose the misconduct of public or private actors and consequently challenge their power. Law holds the power to protect and legitimize such resistance. However, this power to protect and legitimize correlates to the scope of journalist-source privilege in any given jurisdiction. In the context of the new statutory protections promulgated by the Canadian Parliament, such prophylaxes are tied to the text, context and purpose of the legislation and the corresponding interpretations courts may articulate.
Keywords: Journalist-Source Privilege, journalists, Canada Evidence Act, Journalistic Sources Protection Act, Evidence Law, Wigmore, Resistance
JEL Classification: K4
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation