The Supreme Court of Canada has granted journalists in Quebec the right to protect confidential sources provided they can show it is in the public interest.
The decision was a partial victory for The Globe and Mail and journalist Daniel Leblanc, who has now been ordered to return to a Quebec trial court for a final determination on his ability to conceal the identity of a key source in the federal sponsorship scandal. …
Globe and Mail editor-in-chief John Stackhouse described Friday’s judgment as “an important victory for investigative journalism in Quebec and for every Canadian who believes in the public interest.”
The court “has set a very high bar for disclosure of sources in investigative journalism – essentially saying it must be vital to the administration of justice,” he said. …
However, Dean Jobb – a legal journalism professor at Nova Scotia’s University of King’s College – called it “disappointing” that the question of protecting The Globe’s key source remains unresolved.
“But the Supreme Court has sent a strong message to judges that journalists should be ordered to ‘out’ their confidential sources only in rare circumstances – especially sources consulted for important public-interest stories such as this,” Prof. Jobb added.
The source was only known as MaChouette. Groupe Polygone, one of the companies that benefited from the sponsorship program’s largesse, wanted the source of reporter Daniel LeBlanc identified as part of its effort to defend against a $35-million lawsuit launched by the federal government.
The case is formally known as Globe and Mail v. Canada (Attorney General) 2010 SCC 41. Read the judgment.