There were both advances and setbacks for press freedom and freedom of expression in recent months. On a positive note, Superior Court of Ontario Judge Lynn Ratushny issued a definitive ruling in October that struck down the secrecy law used to justify a raid in 2004 by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police on the home of Ottawa journalist Juliet O’Neill. The judge held that the use of sections of the Security of Information Act was invalid, because they are overbroad, vague and open to misuse and they infringed on the reporters’ right to freedom of the press. Warrants issued to gain access to O’Neill’s home amounted to “intimidation of the press and an infringement of the constitutional right of freedom of the press,” the judge ruled. The January 21, 2004 raid on O’Neill’s home appeared to have been in response to an article she had written, and was an attempt to identify the police source that had leaked information to her. Also encouraging for Canadian journalists was the fact that Reporters Without Borders ranked Canada highly – in 16th place – in its latest Worldwide Press Freedom Index and that Freedom House’s annual Press Freedom Survey also highlighted Canada’s tradition of broad press freedom by ranking it among the top 25 countries with a free press. Also praised was the fact that Canada is taking a leading role within the Commonwealth to push for greater press freedom and to create a forum where cases involving freedom of the press could be raised. There was a note of caution, however, from Freedom House. It reported that “Canada’s Access to Information Act was once emblematic of how to uphold press freedom through law now it is restricted by so much bureaucracy and anti-terror legislation that journalists have accused the government of violating press freedom outright. The international non-governmental organization in addition felt that the extent of media concentration and the influence of powerful media conglomerates “continue to limit media pluralism” in Canada. Meanwhile, Internet freedom came under scrutiny when a Canadian court agreed to hear a libel case brought against The Washington Post of the United States by a former United Nations official, Cheickh Bangoura, over a report published on the Internet that accused him of wrongdoing while serving with the UN in Kenya. In another adverse development, a reporter for Le Journal of Montreal, Fabrice de Pierrebourg, reported on what he saw as lax security at the Pierre Trudeau Airport in Montreal, where he said he was able to wander around unchallenged. The airport authority, Transport Canada, said it would investigate and warned De Pierrebourg that if he were charged and found guilty of violating security as part of his reporting he could face a 5,000 Canadian dollars fine for each infraction. The CJFE protested what it called an apparent targeting of the reporter. “De Pierrebourg should be congratulated for helping to expose the weaknesses of the system, not punished,” the free-press organization declared. Three other recent incidents involving freedom of expression were reported. The Ontario Court of Justice ordered journalist Derek Finkle to turn over documents used in writing his book “No Claim to Mercy” about a 1990 murder. The identity of his confidential sources could be compromised by the court order, the organization PEN Canada said in protesting the action. The Canadian Supreme Court in January upheld a British Columbia Court of Appeals decision denying advance funding for a suit by the Little Sisters bookstore, which caters to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender customers, against the Canadian Customs Service following its confiscation of imported material intended for the store. Canada PEN declared that “censoring and restricting freedom of expression in a free and democratic country is always a matter of compelling national interest” and therefore public funds should be made available to finance the court battle. Also in January, the Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board in Mississauga ordered high schools in its district to remove author David Guterson’s best-selling novel “Snow Falling on Cedars” from their library shelves and English class reading lists after a parent complained about sexually explicit language in the book. Canada PEN National Affairs Chair Christopher Waddell called the action “tantamount to censorship.”