CBC wins SLAPP motion against Subway Restaurants

Update: CBC has been awarded $500,000 in costs . That is a huge deal for free expression. We may very well see an end to lawsuits being fled to shut down media inquiry, and this kind of cost award deters corporations from trying to use the courts to muzzle environmentalists and anyone else who criticizes … Read more

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 … Read more

How did pot get banned in Canada? This is one time when you can blame the media

Marijuana prohibition in Canada was imposed because of a belief among  early 20th century decision-makers that social ills could be reduced, or even eliminated, by government action.[1] Senior politicians, media, and progressive elements in society, especially women’s activists, social reformers and farmers’ movements, also accepted the premise that marijuana was a dangerous drug that should … Read more

Here’s an anniversary you won’t hear about: it’s 100 years since World War I’s press censorship ended

(This is adapted from a piece I wrote for Maclean’s magazine earlier this year. The piece is about censorship, but the real topic is the value of news — even when that news is bad. Press censorship was extended after the end of the First World War while the government was trying to crush what … Read more

Arthur Kent v Don Martin: A Cautionary Tale as We Head into Election Season

We’re heading into a federal election, and this campaign looks especially nasty. This column is a warning for journalists and political insiders to stay focused on facts and to deal fairly. The alternative is to risk writing a take-down of a politician that could lead to a (admittedly rare, for a column written in a … Read more

Parody sites can be whacked for IP breaches

A web site that parodied the Journal de Montreal has been whacked with a $23,500 judgment for  trademark infringement. The judge took the site’s profits from the parody (plus costs). That means college papers that traditionally do spoof issues must be careful to make sure their parodies don’t look too much like the real thing. … Read more

More media bloodletting as Globe announces buyouts, CTV cuts newsroom, TVO budget cut

The Globe and Mail has offered buyouts to staffers to try to cut $10 million a year from its payroll. A big buyout, in 2013, saw the paper lose some of its best newsroom talent. Kirk Makin, Canada’s premier justice and legal reporter, left the paper, along with several top investigative reporters like Stan Oziewicz, … Read more

Jesse Brown hits The Rock

Self-professed Shame Wizard Jesse Brown fired another shot into his own foot last week. Then, as he usually does, reloaded and shot the other one. On the May 2 edition of Canadaland Short Cuts, Brown smears Newfoundlanders for taking offence at being labeled ‘Newfies’, calling them overly-sensitive white people, and claiming they “want Newfoundland to be … Read more

Ontario’s SLAPP law is headed to the Supreme Court of Canada

Pointes Protection, the key Ontario Court of Appeal case on Ontario’s Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation law (discussed in an earlier post) is headed to Canada’s top court. Anyone who wants to understand the core of the SLAPP law should read the ONCA’s decision on Pointes, not just for its take on the law itself, … Read more