Ottawa, December 14, 2016 – Senator Claude Carignan’s Bill S-231 on the protection of journalistic sources passed a crucial step today. It went through second reading in the Senate and was referred to the Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs.
Bill S-231, tabled on November 22nd by Senator Carignan, amends the Canada Evidence Act and the Criminal Code to protect the confidentiality of journalistic sources as well as whistleblowers. Only a judge of a superior court—and in Quebec this means the Quebec court—would be able to issue a search, wiretap or surveillance warrant against a journalist. As soon as an investigation would be completed following a properly authorized request, all the information collected would be sealed by the court and none of the parties could access it without a tribunal’s authorization. An officer willing to consult the information would have to advise the journalist and a media outlet, and they would have ten days to challenge the request or exclude information. S-231 would put in place a set of criteria, including the freedom of the press and the impact of the disclosure on both the source and the journalist.
Senator Carignan is pleased that his bill is going through the various stages quickly and believes it proves it is imperative to act. “Senators recognize the relevancy of S-231’s measures and it demonstrates that protecting journalistic sources is crucial to guarantee the freedom of the press, a pillar of our democratic society,” said Senator Carignan.
Finally, Senator Claude Carignan had this to say regarding the progress of his bill: “I can only hope, when we return from the holiday break, in February or March 2017, that the committee can hear the testimony of the many witnesses who have an interest in S-231, and that the bill be adopted in the Senate in the Spring,” concluded Senator Carignan.