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Supreme Court decision on Vice Media a major ‘setback’ for investigative reporting in Canada: experts – New Brunswick

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The Supreme Court of Canada’s decision to compel a Vice Media reporter to hand over material about an accused terrorist will have a damaging effect on investigative reporting across the country and weaken Canadian democracy, say experts and press freedom advocates.

On Friday, Canada’s highest court ruled in a 9-0 decision that Vice reporter Ben Makuch will have to turn over any communications with Farah Mohamed Shirdon, a Calgary man who left Canada to join the so-called Islamic State.

Jeffrey Dvorkin, director of the journalism program at the University of Toronto Scarborough, said the decision is a major “setback for journalists in Canada” as it could leave them open to being perceived as operating as “police agents.”

“Anytime a journalist says to a confidential source, ‘I promise keep your name out of the story,’ now journalists can’t give that guarantee,” Dvorkin said. “We are going to see more intimidation from organizations that are going to prevent journalists from doing their jobs.”

READ MORE: Canadian jihadi Farah Mohamed Shirdon killed in Iraq airstrike in 2015

Dvorkin said that confidential sources, like whistleblowers, might think twice about speaking with a journalist if security agencies can compel journalists to reveal information.

“This is going to be the detriment of journalism and our democracy in general,” he said.

The Supreme Court decision centers on several articles written by Makuch in 2014 based on interviews he had with Shirdon, an outspoken Canadian ISIS member who was infamously featured in a propaganda video that showed him ripping up his Canadian passport and throwing it in a fire.

Shirdon was charged by RCMP with six terror-related offences and investigators obtained a production order in 2015 for Makuch to hand over any communications with the suspected terrorist in order to build their case.

Global News first reported in September 2017 that U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), which oversees U.S. military operations in Syria and Iraq, found that Farah Mohamed Shirdon was killed in the city of Mosul on July 13, 2015.

VICE Media and Makuch had fought to have that production order overturned in three lower courts, but the decision was upheld by the Supreme Court on Friday. Several civil liberties groups and media outlets, including Global News, acted as intervenors in the case.

READ MORE: Vice Media challenges RCMP demand for reporter materials in top Ontario court

Writing on behalf of the majority, Justice Michael Moldaver said the production order for Makuch’s materials should stand because disclosure of the materials would not reveal a confidential source as Shirdon used the media to publicize extremist views.

“Mr. Makuch’s own conduct shows that the relationship was not confidential in any way,” Moldaver wrote. “It was Mr. Makuch, not the police, who identified Mr. Shirdon to the public, by publishing the articles that linked Abu Usamah to Farah Shirdon and the YouTube video.”

“The production order strikes a proportionate balance between the rights and interests at stake,” the court ruled. “The order is narrowly tailored, targeting only the journalist’s communications with the source, and those communications are not available from any other source.”

Vice media said the court’s decision “has failed to recognize the importance of a free, and independent press.”

“Today’s decision will no doubt have a chilling effect on both sources, who may be reluctant to talk to reporters, and on journalists themselves, who could be less inclined to report on sensitive issues,” Vice said in a statement. “We strongly believe that the journalism — which is already under attack across the globe — needs to be free from state intervention.”

Karyn Pugliese, with the Canadian Journalists for Free Expression, said the ruling is a “dark day” for Canada and reporters will now have to reevaluate when to offer sources anonymity.

“It’s not just about media rights, it’s about the public interest,” she said. “If people are afraid to come forward because they see us as agents of the police — that’s concerning — people won’t come forward.”

WATCH: Canadian terrorism researcher comments on death of Canadian foreign fighter






In its ruling, the Court avoided the Journalistic Sources Protection Act that the Trudeau government enacted in 2017, which aims to shield sources from police investigation.

“Going forward, this new regime will govern production orders relating to ‘journalists,’ even where no confidential source is involved, the facts in this case arose before the JSPA was brought into force,” the court said

Dvorkin said the JSPA is still “very murky” and has yet to be tested in court and it does not put journalists’ sources entirely beyond the reach of a court orders.

A spokesperson for Public Safety Canada said in an email that the ministry is reviewing the decision, which they said attempted to “strike a balance between” the priorities of security agencies and the rights of a free press.

“The intersection between the two is crucial to our democracy. That’s why a unanimous ruling of the Supreme Court of Canada is ‎so significant,” said Scott Bardsley in an email. “We all need to examine and understand the Court’s analysis.”

*With a file from Mike Armstrong

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.



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Anglais

A stunning Water Lantern Festival is coming to Montreal

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What might just be the most magical night ever is coming up for Montreal this year.

The Water Lantern Festival has announced that it will be gracing Mississauga with thousands of floating lanterns later this year, as part of a celebration that spans the entire world.

According to the festival’s official website, the event is a celebration of life with proceeds going towards charities and non-profit organizations within the area.

“Water Lantern Festival brings together individuals from all ages, backgrounds, and walks of life to join in one emotional and memorable night. At the Water Lantern Festival, we cherish these moments and will do our best to help you have a memorable experience that you’ll never forget as you witness the beauty of thousands of lanterns reflecting upon the water,” the website states.

The festival takes place throughout multiple cities around the world, with the Canadian cities of Quebec, Regina, Vancouver, Hamilton, Calgary, Ottawa, Mississauga, and, of course, Montreal taking part.

For the Calgary event, a date has been confirmed and tickets are already rolling out. Montreal shan’t be far behind, and you can click the Notify Me tab on the event’s site to be kept in the loop.

Expect an evening filled with food trucks, music, lantern designing and finally, a magical launch of the lanterns into the water as the sun goes down.

For our pals over in Calgary, their event includes a floating lantern, a commemorative drawstring bag, a marker, and a wristband. Expect something similar, if not the same, when more details float through about Montreal’s event.

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Anglais

Euthanasia order on hold for Montreal dog that attacked children

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A pit bull dog that attacked four children and two adults in August 2018 in Montreal North will not be euthanized in the immediate future.

The euthanasia order has been temporarily suspended pending the appeal of a Quebec Superior Court decision.

On Tuesday, Judge Lukasz Granosik rejected a request to halt the euthanasia order issued by the Montreal North borough, which declared the animal a “dangerous dog.”

The City of Montreal has not changed its mind. This is only a delay before it proceeds with euthanizing the dog, a source told the Canadian Press.

Shotta, the one-year-old dog, was in the care of its owner’s acquaintance in August 2018. The dog attacked four children and two adults, causing serious injuries in separate incidents on the same day.

After the attacks, the dog was taken from the home and entrusted to the SPCA.

WATCH: Dog found dead in Angrignon Park

The Road to Home Rescue Support, an American shelter, asked the court if it could take in the dog. Christa Frineau, the dog’s owner, had also asked that Shotta not be euthanized.

Granosik refused to grant the request.

—With files from Global’s Kalina Laframboise

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Anglais

9 Things To Do In Montreal This Friday, Saturday & Sunday

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Today’s sunny skies have me itching to make weekend plans. I absolutely cannot wait to make the most of this warmer weather. This might be the time to inflate my bike tires and dust off my running shoes…

Whether you want to brush up on your cooking skills, let loose, or fill your stomach with amazing food, there’s an event out there for you. Read on for 9 fun things you can do with friends or a fling this weekend.

TL;DR Read on for 9 fun things you can do in Montreal this weekend.

Let Yourself Go At Dress Up

Where: 185 Avenue Van Horne, Montréal.

When: Friday, March 29, 9:00 p.m.

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