Saskatchewan Court dismisses application for publication ban against Leader-Post

A Saskatchewan Court of Appeal judge has thrown out a publication ban application in a protracted securities hearing and awarded costs to the Leader-Post newspaper in Regina.

Alena Marie Pastuch, a Regina businesswoman, and her string of companies are at the centre of proceedings under The Securities Act examining the alleged misappropriation of $5.6 million. A cease trade order was issued in November 2009, preliminary motions were heard in November 2012 and the formal hearing began in December.

At the start of the securities hearing, lawyer F. William Johnson of
Gerrand Rath Johnson LLP, representing the Leader-Post, successfully opposed Pastuch’s application for an outright publication ban of the proceedings.

In June, Johnson was present in Court of Queen’s Bench when Pastuch made a number of applications, including another request for a publication ban. All were dismissed.

Most recently, in November, Pastuch again applied for a publication ban on an application before the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal to seek a stay of proceedings. As with her previous applications, Pastuch argued a publication ban was warranted because her application and affidavit included “highly personal, confidential, and medical” information covered by privacy laws.

Johnson argued she had not met the requirements for a publication ban as set out in the Dagenais/Mentuck test, and Justice Ralph Ottenbreit agreed. The judge also found no privacy laws, such as the Saskatchewan Health Information Protection Act, applied.

Johnson had urged the court to assess costs, suggesting a strong signal should be sent to this applicant that the courts must be used responsibly. He noted the Leader-Post had appeared several times previously on publication bans sought by Pastuch.

Ottenbreit ordered that the LeaderPost shall have costs fixed at $1,500 to be paid forthwith.