Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Canada's top court to mull media's right to confidentiality

A critical test of press freedom reaches the Supreme Court of Canada this week when it considers for the first time whether journalists have an explicit right to protect confidential sources from the police.

The National Post newspaper, backed by civil libertarians and a coalition of media groups, will ask the court Friday to overturn an Ontario Court of Appeal ruling that the public interest in police investigations trumps the charter guarantee of free expression.

The National Post wants the court to overturn an order to surrender to the RCMP the unmarked envelope and a loan document that McIntosh received while writing stories about possible conflict of interest involving federal grants and loans in the Quebec constituency of then-prime minister Jean Chretien.

Police suspect that the document, which appears to be from the Business Development Bank of Canada, is a forgery and they want the package to track down the source, possibly through securing a saliva sample from the stamp.

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