CJFE Hails Court Ruling as Important Advance for Press Freedom in Canada



    TORONTO, Nov. 14 /CNW/ - Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE)
today hailed the Ontario Court of Appeal's decision affirming the news media's
right to publish information in the public's interest as a significant victory
for freedom of expression.
    "The decision will decrease the chilling effect of potential libel suits
on reporters and editors," CJFE President Arnold Amber said.  "This changes
the whole ballgame.  Editors and reporters will now have more freedom to go
after stories of public interest that they were frightened to touch before,"
Amber added.
    In a unanimous decision, a three-judge panel said carrying out
responsible public-interest journalism should be a defence against libel and
slander suits for the news media.   The decision was based on a test case
involving Ontario police officer Danno Cusson, who had sued The Ottawa Citizen
for defamation after they published an article which suggested he had acted
improperly.
    Judge Robert Sharpe, who wrote the decision on behalf of Madam Justice
Karen Weiler and Mr. Justice Robert Blair, stated that "where a media
defendant can show that it acted in accordance with the standards of
responsible journalism in publishing a story that the public was entitled to
hear, it has a defence even if it got some of the facts wrong."
    Halifax-based journalism professor and CJFE board member Kelly Toughill
said she hopes the Ontario decision will be followed in every jurisdiction
across Canada. "This is a powerful decision that should lead to better public
policy journalism across the country."
    CJFE believes that this shift, which puts greater priority on freer and
more open discussions in the media, and backs off from the protections of
reputations of those in power, will benefit all Canadians.  The ruling brings
the Canadian media in line with similar approaches followed in most major
English-speaking countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom,
South Africa and Australia.

    Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) is an association of more
than 300 journalists, editors, publishers, producers, students and others who
work to promote and defend free expression and press freedom in Canada and
around the world.




For further information:

For further information: For interviews with CJFE representatives please
contact CJFE Manager, Julie Payne at (416) 515-9622 x. 226


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