A bill introduced in the legislature by the federal government in February designed to fight online child pornography was protested by some press freedom organizations as seeking to give police the right to access users information, thus violating privacy. Another bill, the Copyright Act, if passed would make it easy for any Web site to be quickly taken down on the basis of copyright infringement, the CJFE said.
In Quebec the government announced a proposal to create a title of professional journalists. This would in effect require journalists in the province to obtain accreditation in order to continue pursuing their role as reporters. The Canadian Association of Journalists (CAJ) said it believed the objective was to divide journalists into classes, backed by legislation, giving one group rights and privileges denied the other. This would be a fundamental interference by government in true freedom of the press, it asserted.
The Canadian government also came under fire for its practice of denying journalists timely and open access to federally-funded scientists projects. Press freedom advocates said they would be pushing for such denial to be overthrown, on the grounds that it would make for better journalism, for a more informed public, for a healthier democracy, and make it more likely that Canadians will reap the maximum benefit from the research they fund.
On the positive side, the federal government agreed to lift election-night blackouts on election results, making federal polling results available for release as they become available rather than having Canadians wait for the last polls to close on the nations west coast. It was time to bring Canadian elections into the 21st century by getting rid of an outdated and unenforceable law, government minister Tim Uppal said in announcing the change.
A March 15 police raid on the home of a Quebec reporter has raised concern about protecting the confidentiality of journalists sources. In the incident local police officers went to the home of Journal de Montréal reporter Eric-Yvan Lemay and seized his computer and some of his clothing and obtained his fingerprints. He had recently been publishing a series of reports exposing a lack of privacy surrounding the hospital records of patients, saying that confidential information and photographs of patient files had been left open for public view. The police action was protested by several Canadian press organizations. One of them, the Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) said it believed the incident have been an attempt to intimidate Lemay and other journalists that could have a chilling effect on the ability of journalists to provide fair and accurate reporting.
In another March incident in Quebec a court ruled against a bid by real estate developer Tony Accurso to have Radio-Canada reporter Alain Gravel reveal his source for an article on a case of tax fraud in which it was said that Accurso had not been personally charged. Radio-Canada was also in the news itself in February when it was learned that its long-serving executive director of news and current affairs, Alain Saunier, was leaving the station under unclear circumstances. The Quebec journalists federation said it was concerned at his departure and replacement, questioning whether it was a response to criticism of Radio-Canada by the Conservative government.