Wasylyshen v. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

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November 29, 2005

Robert Wasylyshen, former Chief of Police of the Edmonton Police Service, sued the CBC for defamation. He claimed the he was defamed by the television program “Disclosure”, alleging that the program implied that while he was a member of the Edmonton Police Services he engaged in sexual relations and unlawful conduct with prostitutes. As part of the pre-trial discovery, Wasylyshen requested that CBC produce all relevant documents in its possession. The CBC objected to producing unredacted copies of documents that contained confidential source information.

In coming to the decision that the documents were not to be disclosed at this stage, Justice Ouelette relied on the interrelationship between the Alberta Rules of Court, the Newspaper Rule, the Charter and Wigmore’s test for qualified privilege. Based on this review, he held that the existence of a journalist-source privilege should be answered on a case-by-case basis and that in this instance the interests served by protecting the communication outweighed its immediate disclosure.

Justice Ouelette’s favourable decision with respect to the rights of journalists and their sources, includes the following comment on freedom of the press and privilege:

“… the values guaranteed under s. 2(b) are extremely important in a free and democratic society and should not be overridden except in the clearest of circumstances. Indeed, freedom of the press plays a sufficiently fundamental role in our society that the relationship between journalists and their confidential sources may, in appropriate cases, be protected by privilege.”

See: Wasylyshen v. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation See:Wasylyshenv.Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Affidavit of Harvey Cashore

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