Canadian Publication Ban
Canada's political system is about to suffer a blistering meltdown under the heat of a political scandal that's making Washington politics look like an ice cream social.
If you're not following the drama, you're not alone. Accounts of the hearings of three key witnesses have been subject to a publication ban, described as a "broadcast to the public" ban, which specifically includes "posting to the Internet," as ruled by Justice John H. Gomery, the appointed Commissioner of the Commission of Inquiry into the Sponsorship and Advertising Activities. Yes, Canada allows freedom the press, but in past cases, out of respect for the families of violent crime victims, publication has been supressed at the order of the presiding judge.
In this case, Gomery justifies the ban as follows:
This matter is a classic case where a balance must be found between two constitutionally protected rights, the right of the public to be informed of matters affecting them, guaranteed by section 2 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms4, and the right of every person accused of a crime to have a fair trial, guaranteed by section 11(d) of the Charter. It should be noted that Canadian citizens have an interest in the protection of both of these rights, since the freedom of the press is an essential value in a democracy, and the guarantee that every person is presumed innocent and cannot be found guilty of a criminal offence without undergoing a fair trial is for the protection of us all.
Crazy, eh? Well, it's crazy to Americans. It seems Canadians tend to support the ban (read comments here) in the interest of a fair trial. What's interesting is that the information is still getting out, via blogs in the US. Most specifically, a blog based in Minnesota, called Captain's Quarters Blog, which effectively makes the ban useless, but renders the unauthorized work of bloggers as the primary source of news gathering. It is expected that Canadian bloggers who violate the ban will be prosecuted, though it will be an intersting discussion when it comes to linking to other information. An example that has been raised: will webhosts and bloggers be liable for all content of each website that they link to? Can they say where to find the info? If not, how many degrees from the illegal source material can they link? Could one person be liable for another's indiscretions if a site they have already linked to chooses to post illegal content without their knowledge?
Interstingly enough, the effectiveness of the ban dramatically impacts the course of action that the staggering Liberal Party chooses, given the structure of their political system, and the options available to them prior to public disclosure of the hearings. I'd love to get into the scandal with you, but it runs far deeper than we can get into here, so check out windsofchange.net for a summary and analysis, and the renegade US blog, Captain's Quarters, if you are interested.
Hey, where's the US media on this scandal, anyway?