Ontario court dismisses charter challenge against police posing as reporters

An Ontario superior court has dismissed a charter challenge filed by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) and the Radio-Television News Directors Association (RTDNA) of Canada over the practice of provincial police officers posing as journalists.

The three media organizations went to court earlier this year to argue that the practice violates Constitution by having a chilling effect on freedom of the press. The group also claims that the deceptive practice could put working journalists at risk and make it harder to win the trust of important sources.

However, Justice Benjamin Glustein’s dismissed these arguments and determined that police impersonating members of the media could not be considered a “real” practice. “There is no practice of plainclothes OPP officers engaged in media-presence surveillance to identify themselves as journalists if questioned as to their identity,” the decision reads. “Consequently, it cannot be considered a ‘real’ practice and, as such, I do not address the theoretical constitutional validity of the issue.”

The CBC, CJFE and the RTDNA Canada are considering whether or not to appeal the ruling.

Source: The Globe and Mail