CAJ Seeks Intervenor Status in Confidential Source Protection Case

    OTTAWA, Feb. 17 /CNW/ - The Canadian Association of Journalists will
appeal today to the Supreme Court for standing in what could be a landmark
source protection case.
    The National Post, former editor Matthew Fraser and former staff reporter
Andrew McIntosh are appealing a decision made nearly a year ago by the Ontario
Court of Appeal that would force the newspaper to surrender leaked secret
documents in the Shawinigate affair to RCMP.
    "This case cuts to the heart of what it means to protect a confidential
source," said CAJ President Mary Agnes Welch. "This is a matter of significant
public interest. If the courts force reporters to name whistleblowers, stories
of government wrongdoing like McIntosh helped uncover will never come to
light. In plain terms, that slams the door on the public's right to hold
government accountable. It's simply bad for democracy."
    The Ontario appeals court is forcing the Post to turn over the original
documents, and the envelope they came in, to acquire DNA and fingerprint
evidence. The RCMP says this evidence would lead to the source of the
documents and is critical to a police investigation into allegations the
document was forged. The Post is appealing that decision in a case that could
come before the Supreme Court in May for oral arguments.
    The CAJ is part of a coalition of media organizations including the
Canadian Newspaper Association, Canadian Journalists for Free Expression, Ad
IDEM/Canadian Media Lawyers Association and many others, to seek intervenor
status in the case. Intervenor status would give the CAJ the ability to
support the Post's appeal and argue that forcing journalists to reveal their
sources makes them de facto agents of the state. Any requirement to disclose
confidential sources would make it harder, if not impossible, for journalists
to carry out their constitutionally protected role as watchdogs.

    The CAJ is Canada's largest professional organization for journalists
from all media, with about 1,400 members across Canada. The CAJ's primary
roles are to provide high-quality professional development for its members and
public-interest advocacy.

For further information:

For further information: Mary Agnes Welch, CAJ president, (204)
943-6575, (204) 470-8862; John Dickins, CAJ executive director, (613)
526-8061; French-language contact: Robert Frank, (514) 697-7377

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