Journalist sources should be revealed as ‘last resort,’ Supreme Court says

Court re-affirmed that under new laws, journalists should not be immediately forced to reveal sources

The Supreme Court of Canada is ordering a case concerning protection of journalistic sources back to a lower court, saying it cannot decide on the issue because the arguments have changed.

But in a majority decision, the court re-affirmed that under new laws, journalists should be forced to reveal their sources only as a “last resort.”

The court set aside an order requiring journalist Marie-Maude Denis to disclose sources who gave her information about the case of Marc-Yvan Cote, a former provincial Liberal minister in Quebec charged with fraud and bribery.

But the justices sent the issue back to the Court of Quebec for a new hearing because the Crown changed its arguments while the top court considered the case.

The court acknowledged it was an “exceptional remedy” given an exceptional situation.

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Justice Rosalie Abella dissented, saying she would not have sent the issue back to the lower court because the legal issue was clear enough.

The Canadian Press

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