Report to the IAPA Midyear Meeting
March 29 to 31
Cartagena, Colombia
During this period, there continue to be severe controls and sanctions on journalists who go in pursuit of news pieces deemed inconvenient for the government; there are restrictions to the availability of information and there is interference with the task of journalists through permanent surveillance of their activity as well as attempts at having access to their sources of information.

According to a survey conducted by Nanos Research for Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE), more than half of the population perceives that the democracy is under threat because of lack of transparency by the authorities in the handling of information released to the public. 67% of Canadians believe that journalists should not be required to provide police with their source material.
Freedom of expression and of the press are facing bigger threats than ever before. In recent months, media professionals and reporters have faced greater difficulties protecting their confidential sources. On the other hand, the stories that are of definitive public interest aren't being told. The Agencies in charge of national security now have greater access to citizen's private data than ever before, and there is no agency with oversight that can defend individual citizen right of access to information that should be in the public domain. Journalists, on the other hand, are increasingly being spied on by state policing agents.

Certain issues that have increasingly become the center of attention in the country have to do specifically with the lack of access to basic social, political and economic information. Such are the cases regarding the SNC-Lavalin corruption investigation and the positions of the government having to do with the sales of weapons to the Saudi government.

Additionally, this semester has been at the center of a major international scandal, involving the detention of Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Huawei, the large Chinese telecommunications giant. Key in understanding the complexities of the issue is the fact that Ms. Wanzhou is not only the corporation's highest financial authority; she is also a daughter of the Founder. The detention of Ms. Wanzhou has led to a veritable diplomatic war that has affected the China-Canada relations.

A key recent threat to press freedom reported previously, involved the case of several journalists from Quebec placed under police surveillance in an effort to identify their sources.

The journalists involved were investigating police misconduct by officers in charge of street gangs and drug traffic. The critical matter, still at the heart of things today, is that under common law, the Supreme Court has upheld in the past that journalistic sources are protected, but that this protection is to be decided on a case-by-case basis. In other words, there is no constitutionally mandated protection of the right to shield a source.

The right to express yourself and form your own opinions is an essential feature of a democracy. In Canada, section 2(b) of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects "freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication".

A key concept, however, is that Freedom of expression in Canada is not absolute. Section 1 of the Charter allows the government to pass laws that limit liberty of expression. "As long as the limits imposed on that liberty are reasonable and can be justified in a free and democratic society, then those limitations imposed are reasonable."

There has been recent a recent Federal government announcement of its intention to support journalism by introducing tax credits and offer a charitable status to non-profit newsrooms. It remains to see whether these measures can be a concrete source of stimuli for the quickly declining of readership and the economic crisis affecting media.