TORONTO, June 27 /CNW/ - RTNDA Canada - the Association of Electronic
Journalists, is pleased the Supreme Court of Canada has upheld a fundamental
principle of free speech. In its decision today overturning the libel judgment
against B.C. broadcaster Rafe Mair, the high court has ruled that fair comment
is a valid defence when it comes to expressing editorial opinion.
"We may not always agree with each other," says RTNDA President Cal
Johnstone. "But talk radio has a well established role in generating public
debate on controversial issues. To restrict that debate would have had
far-reaching implications for our democratic society."
Mair was sued over remarks he made on the air in 1999 about Kari Simpson,
who was a major player in a campaign opposed to teaching about gay lifestyles
in the province's schools. She claimed his comments were false and malicious.
The original trial judge accepted Mair's defence of fair comment and dismissed
the action. However, the British Columbia Court of Appeals disagreed and ruled
in favour of Simpson. Today, the Supreme Court said the trial judge was right
in allowing the fair comment defence.
RTNDA joined a media coalition, represented by lawyer, Brian MacLeod
Rogers, to intervene on this important appeal. Other members of the coalition
included Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) the Canadian
Newspaper Association, Ad IDEM/Canadian Media Lawyers Association, British
Columbia Association of Broadcasters, Canadian Publishers' Council, Magazines
Canada and the Canadian Association of Journalists.
Created in 1962, RTNDA Canada is the voice of electronic journalists in
Canada. It is made up of more than 500 news directors, reporters, producers
educators, students and industry associates across the country. The RTNDA Code
of Ethics is recognized as the benchmark for the broadcast industry in Canada.
For further information:
For further information: RTNDA President, Cal Johnstone at (519)
686-8810 x. 7353