March 23, 2018 - Updated on March 26, 2018

ALERT - Canada: Quebec Superior Court orders journalist to reveal her sources

A Quebec Superior Court judge ruled on March 22 that Radio-Canada investigative journalist Marie-Maude Denis must reveal her confidential sources in an ongoing Quebec City court corruption case against two Liberal politicians. After hearing arguments that media coverage denied one of the politician’s right to a fair and impartial trial, Quebec Superior Court Judge Jean-François Émond ruled that Denis must identify her sources for a report alleging collusion in the awarding of public contracts. The judge claimed that when public interest in the outcome of a trial outweighs that of journalistic source protection, it is permissible to force a reporter to testify. Thursday’s decision overturns a lower court’s ruling prohibiting Denis and journalist Louis Lacroix from having to testify, citing Canada’s 2017 federal shield law. Denis was one of seven journalists under Quebec police surveillance in 2013 in an effort to identify her sources within the police force.

“Forcing a leading investigative journalist to reveal her sources is a serious threat to press freedom in Canada,” said Margaux Ewen, RSF’s North America Director. “Not only does this decision completely disregard Canada’s recently adopted federal shield law, it compromises the fundamental principle that journalists’ sources must remain confidential in order for them to conduct their work independently of government interference.”

Canada ranks 22nd out of 180 countries in RSF's 2017 World Press Freedom Index, after falling 14 places in the past two years.