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The rapporteur must give RCMP content on charged with terrorism: the Supreme Court



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Jim Bronskill, Canadian press

Posted on Friday, November 30, 2018 9:58 PM EST

Last Updated on Friday, November 30, 2018 10:57 PM EST

OTTAWA – The Supreme Court in Canada says the rapporteur must give the RCMP material he has collected for the stories of charged terrorism.

The 9-0 decision is likely to be considered a defeat for the media that could be left vulnerable to serve as investigative police.

In 2014, the wedding reporter Ben Makuch wrote three articles on the involvement of Farah Shirdon, formerly in Calgary, in the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant.

Shirdon left Canada for Turkey in March. A month later he appeared in the propaganda video of ISIL, which appeared on the Internet. He pulled out his Canadian passport, threw it into the fire and said, "With the help of Allah, we come to a burial."

The exchanges between Makuch and Shirdon via the text messaging service were crucial for the articles.

In 2015, the RCMP received a production order in accordance with the Criminal Code, which sent to the Directorate Vice Media and Makuch documents and communications data with Shirdon, who might be dead now.

Makuch lodged a request for the cancellation of a production order, but was rejected – a decision confirmed by the Ontario Court of Appeal.

The Supreme Court agreed to hear the Makuc case, which undoubtedly pressed free press forces against the police's investigative powers.

In the former case, the court set out nine conditions for assessing the merits of the search for a media house.

The Vice-Presidents argued in the Supreme Court that the lower courts misapplied or failed to use the equalization test.

Philip Tunley, a lawyer for Vice Media, told the High Court in May last year that they should have clear media protection when forced by enforcement agencies.

He said that the result of current legislation and practice was a "cooling effect" to the important role media play in collecting and publishing news in Canada.

Federal lawyer Croft Michaelson said at the hearing that there was no merit of criticism of a solid legal framework for deciding on access to media material.

In his arguments, Crown called the test as a principled and flexible framework, designed to cope with any potential exciting effect that might have on the ability of the media to perform their work. She said that the courts did not act as rubber brands, which gave preference to the interests of law enforcement at the expense of freedom of expression.

The Vice President for CTV News said:

This is a dark day for freedom of the press, which is the basic principles of democracy. While we have lost this battle, nothing can shake our conviction that free media is the key to a real understanding of the world in which we live. We will continue to encourage the power of the young people to speak this truth.

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