Your Ward News commentary and reportage

LeRoy St. Germaine, the publisher of  the Toronto publication Your Ward News has been sentenced to one year of strict house arrest. Its editor, James Sears,  will spend a year in jail, if he loses his appeal. They were both convicted of spreading hate against Jews and women. This is the first time a court has punished hate speech against

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New stuff to come in the next few days

I have been enjoying a sort of holiday — doing the things I need to do for my practice, and to get ready to move into new accommodations in downtown Ottawa while trying to have some family recreational time. I am working on a piece on free expression during election campaigns, and the balancing of rights between individuals who want

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The fight for free speech

The Economist has published an outstanding feature article on the attacks on free speech by autocrats, but also by governments, like India’s, that are still considered democratic. The writer has the intellectual sophistication to understand that free speech is undermined in three ways, which I explained in my book Kill the Messengers: Stephen Harper’s Assault on Your Right to Know.

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The Problem with Columnists

Newspaper publishers love opinion writers for the same reason TV news networks use so many journalist panels: they’re cheap. In fact, they cost much less, per word, than reporters. The copy flows in every day, for spots that are laid out long in advance. No risk, no surprises. Punch in at 9 a.m., leave at 4:30. Real journalism is far

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Superior Court judge gives damages to people targeted by SLAPP suit

I was counsel in this case. I represented the newspaper publisher defendant. On Friday, I heard we won our SLAPP motion. The plaintiffs in the lawsuit, who are the former mayor and deputy mayor of the Town of the Blue Mountains, west of Collingwood, have been ordered to pay all of the lawyers’ bills and $10,000 in damages. I rarely

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Random Notes on Coverage of the 2019 Canadian Federal Election

Just a few random notes as the federal election campaign kicks off. I’ve had a very busy last few weeks with my law practice, and have been tossing some ideas around in my spare time. Here’s a look at some of this campaign’s challenges to the public’s right to know: The Hill media The aging of the Parliamentary Press Gallery

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Cartoonist Michael de Adder says he was fired for this

Michael de Adder is the best editorial cartoonist in Canada. Like cartoons themselves, that’s a subjective statement. His style, which I like, may not be for everyone. His toughness and lack of respect for entrenched power, might not be everyone’s cup of tea. But cartoons are not always meant to be funny. They evoke elements of recognition. The best of

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Jesse Brown’s latest flop: making $20 by attacking a charity

I didn’t start this site to talk about Jesse Brown. It’s really supposed to be about the intersection of media, law and politics. But damn, when Canadaland is bad, it’s really the worst political/news site in Canada. I have been following his campaign against WE Charity, which is an organization I deeply believe in. And I won’t let go. The

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It’s about Jesse Brown’s money

An overview: The Government of Canada’s proposed $600 million media tax credit has dominated news blogs and chatrooms.[1] At the heart of the criticism is whether the temptation of dollars will influence coverage of the government.[2] I’ve taught journalism and media studies at Concordia University and the history of media propaganda at Carleton University. I underscore for my students the

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