When A Free Press Is In Danger

Gail Hodson Shirk Blog, SOR News Wire

CONSTITUTION ACT, 1982

PART I

CANADIAN CHARTER OF RIGHTS AND FREEDOMS

Whereas Canada is founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law:

Guarantee of Rights And Freedoms

1. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the rights and freedoms set out in it subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.

Fundamental Freedoms

2. Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:

(a) freedom of conscience and religion;

(b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication

Today, I read the Supreme Court of Canada ruled against news source, VICE, in favor of the RCMP. I was dumbfounded to see in print such a ruling in 2018, almost 2019. How could any court in a country with a free press do such a thing? Now, I believe I have begun to understand.

I researched the rights enjoyed by Canada’s press. Surprisingly, their Charter of Rights and Freedoms does not have much to say about the subject. As reproduced above, freedom of the press is lumped into section (b), and covers: “freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication.” That’s it.

And if that were not brief enough, to the point of almost being inconsequential, the real harpoon waiting to be fired is in the paragraph prior to that which itemizes Fundamental Freedoms. Those freedoms are guaranteed “subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.”

Canada’s Fundamental Freedoms are guaranteed, but not absolutely guaranteed. No. Their freedoms and rights are “subject to reasonable limits, prescribed by law, which can be demonstrably justified.” No absolutes; freedoms and rights built upon the shifting sands of justification by the trends and mores of the day.

Personally, I am appalled at the Canadian Supreme Court’s ruling, today. I see it as an undermining and devaluing of something that guarantees the public the right to know, because who in his right mind will tell an investigative journalist anything if confidentiality can be compromised? And and if a journalist loses sources, those who could have and would have told the truth, what becomes of the press? How do people learn what is taking place in their world? To whom do they turn?

This is no small matter. When the question becomes whether it’s more expedient to force a journalist to reveal sources, conversations, or information than protecting the integrity and reliability of the journalist, a free and unabridged press is in danger far worse than most can imagine. The society which a free press serves is in danger of truth dying. And once truth is dead, the freedom to choose and make quality decisions for all that pertains to life will be be gone, too. It will be nothing but insecure and out of balance lives built upon shifting sand; no sure footing to be had ever again.

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