Vice Media reporter Ben Makuch leaves Ontario Superior Court in Toronto on Feb. 29. (Photo: Colin Perkel/The Canadian Press)The filings with the Court of Appeal come in support of a coalition request to intervene in a case involving an RCMP demand for Vice Media to turn over materials related to a terrorism investigation. The information is related to stories journalist Ben Makuch wrote about accused terrorist Farah Shirdon.
In a supporting affidavit, Duncan Pike with the free expression group said the Supreme Court has made it clear a judge must be particularly careful in granting police or government requests to force media to produce materials. "Production orders targeting the media will always have a chilling effect," Pike states. "A production order against the media should not be granted simply because it might be useful or convenient." RCMP have charged the Toronto-born Shirdon in absentia with several offences, including leaving Canada to participate in the activity of a terrorist group, taking part in the activity of the Islamic State terrorist group, and threatening Canada and the United States. Police and government lawyers argue the information is crucial to the ongoing investigation of Shirdon.
"Production orders targeting the media will always have a chilling effect."
Royal Canadian Mounted Police Commissioner Bob Paulson speaks to media after a public safety committee meeting on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on March 6, 2015. (Photo: Blair Gable/Reuters)In its separate application for leave to intervene, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association says it wants to focus primarily on court orders sealing or banning from publication the materials police relied on to obtain the production order against Vice. "The open-court principle is a fundamental principle of the Canadian justice system," the association argues. The Crown opposes the intervention applications but has yet to file its materials.
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