Annual Press Freedom Report 2008 - Canada - Reporters Without Borders criticises lack of public commitment to press freedom and fears anti-media violence in coming months



    The plight of journalists in 98 countries reviewed

    MONTREAL, Feb. 13 /CNW Telbec/ - The country remains a world beacon of
civil liberties, but the media is threatened by the law on journalistic
sources. A physical attack on a community newspaper editor also aroused alarm.
    The 2004 law forcing journalists to hand over files and reveal the names
of sources if police require them in criminal cases on journalistic sources
again posed a threat to the media in 2007.
    Lawyers in June demanded that Karine Gagnon, of the Journal de Québec,
hand over notes and tapes she made for a 24 November 2006 article about
asbestos in government buildings. One of those quoted, Denis Petitclerc, was
immediately dismissed by his employer, the Société immobilière du Québec. The
demand was made by his lawyers before a labour court, but since the case was
not a criminal one, Gagnon was not obliged to comply. It was the third time
the law had been used to target journalists. Ken Peters, of the Hamilton
Spectator, was fined C$30,000 in 2004 for refusing to reveal the name of a
source. The law provides for a fine of up to C$250,000 or a six-month prison
sentence.
    The few cases of violence against journalists in Canada concern mainly
foreign journalists or those who belong to minorities. Jawaad Faizi was beaten
with a cricket bat near Toronto on 17 April after being accused of "writing
against Islam" and harming the reputation of a Muslim welfare organisation in
an Urdu-language community weekly, the Pakistan Post. The wife and children of
the paper's editor,Amir Arain, had earlier been threatened. The two 
journalists had filed a legal complaint about the threats the day before the
attack.




For further information:

For further information: Katherine Borlongan, secretary general,
Reporters Without Borders, (514) 521-4111, Cell: (514) 258-4208, Fax: (514)
521-7771, rsfcanada@rsf.org

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