R. v. Mentuck
From Ad IDEM / CMLA
November 15, 2001
The Supreme Court of Canada, in a unanimous judgment, reinforced and extended the principles in Dagenais v. CBC that revamped the common law test for discretionary publication bans in court.
While the Dagenais test applied to situations that balance the right of an accused to a fair trial with the right of the media to free expression, the Mentuck decision applies the test to cases where other administration of justice concerns are raised.
Once again, the court made clear that publication bans are a last resort, and are only to be granted on the basis of evidence of serious risk, not speculation.
In this case, a ban on publication was held not to be warranted to keep from public discussion police operational methods. A ban was allowed to protect the identities of undercover police officers for one year. The court noted that this is not a police state. There has to be room for public discussion of police activity.