Unions representing journalists across the country are adding their voice to advocates who are calling for a shield law to protect journalistic sources and press freedom in Canada.
The calls for guaranteed protection come as serious revelations show that journalists in Québec have been under surveillance by police in an attempt to find out the reporters’ sources, and a Toronto-based VICE Media journalist is facing jail time for protecting his sources.
“Sources must be able to speak to journalists without intimidation and retaliation from powerful forces such as police,” said Martin O’Hanlon, CWA Canada President. “Protecting those sources allows journalists to do their work and keep the public informed. A shield law will emphasize that in Canada journalists are not an investigative arm of the police. This is urgent.”
Québec has launched an inquiry into police surveillance of journalists in the province, but the issue of press freedom and protection of sources is relevant in all jurisdictions including at the federal level .
“We are calling on governments across Canada to act quickly and introduce shield laws to ensure robust protection for press freedom and sources,” said Pascale St-Onge, President of the Fédération nationale des communications (FNC-CSN). “Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has publicly recognized the fundamental value of the role a free press plays in our democracy. It’s now time for his government to lead by introducing shield laws to protect the ability of journalists to do their work in Canada.”
CWA Canada is the country’s only all-media union with 6,000 members at newspapers and other media companies coast to coast, including the CBC, The Canadian Press, APTN and Thomson Reuters.
The Fédération nationale des communications (FNC-CSN) represents over 6,000 workers in the cultural and media industries in Quebec, Ontario and New-Brunswick.