Canadian Hypocracy in Censoring Blogs in Adscam

Gomery Testimony Available to All Canadians,” Globe and Mail, 4 April 2005, (from Captain’s Quarters).

Feds bid to plug Gomery leaks,” by Stephanie Rubec, Toranto Star, 5 April 2005, (from Max’s Mewsings).

I heard about Adscam, finally figured it out, and now am astounded again. Canada is pondering criminal sanctions against bloggers who publish public information Bloggers may be fined or go to jail for reporting news that was already on television.

Once more, possible criminal penalties

Canada’s attorney general is probing possible breaches of a publication ban set up to protect explosive testimony at the AdScam inquiry. Justice spokesman Patrick Charette said federal lawyers are looking into the Internet sites reproducing excerpts of Montreal ad exec Jean Brault’s testimony and providing a link to a U.S. blog featuring more extensive coverage of the hearing.

“We have to decide what the best course of action is,” Charette said, adding federal lawyers could charge Canadian bloggers and website owners with contempt of court or suggest AdScam Justice John Gomery issue warning letters.

For testimony from public hearings

His contact could be anyone as the commission hearings are open to the public. Indeed, the Brault testimony is an open secret in political Ottawa. Ask any political staffer or MP and they seem to know some, if not all, of the details of the testimony. The television feed from the commission can be picked up in some Ottawa newsrooms, and other information is being passed through e-mails, transcripts and phone calls.

But suddenly, it becomes obvious…

Political leaders are being kept abreast of the story, with the exception of Bloc Québécois Leader Gilles Duceppe who asked his staff not to tell him anything for fear he will divulge information and run afoul of the ban.

Canadian political leaders can read about public hearings. But regular Canadians can’t. Welcome to freedom in the Great White North.

One thought on “Canadian Hypocracy in Censoring Blogs in Adscam”

  1. It's a court matter, not at all abnormal to want testimony and other sensitive data kept in camera until a ruling/report has been made. It's not like the 9/11 Commission inquiry was entirely public either, Bush et al testified behind closed doors, without taking an oath and without stenographers or other recording devices. Might want to check your own backyard before complaining about the Great White North, publication bans are standard practice for sensitive inquiries.

  2. If you excuse the pun, the “in camera” testimony was on camera. Much of it is viewable from TV newsrooms in Canada.

    If the classified sections of the 9/11 Commission testimony were viewable on C-SPAN 2, then it would be hypocritical too!

  3. Except that picking up a short-range television feed is not the same as broadcasting it. From the article:

    “The television feed from the commission can be picked up in some Ottawa newsrooms”

    This does not suggest broadcast on provincial or federal government tv channels (CSPAN equivalent) or local/national television stations. Some Ottawa networks being able to pick up the frequency does not equate to broadcasting closed court proceedings. You can also bet on the feeds being locked down after this article's release.

  4. If a company publishes “confidential” information in a newspaper it mails to residents of its corporate hometown, or broadcasts “confidential” information on a television station which is available for miles around, it is no longer confidential.

    Clearly, Canada has its own laws. I'm not a Canadian lawyer. But an entity that broadcasts, on public airwaves, unencrypted analog signals loses a reasonable. expectation of privacy.

    That there is no national security angle, but rather an attempted silencing of political news embarrasing to a minority government, is of course another matter…

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