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Area: 9,976,139
Population: 31,153,000
Languages: English and French (official)
Type of state: federation
Head of state: Queen Elizabeth II
Head of government: Prime Minister Jean Chrétien

Canada - 2003 Annual Report

Two new scandals showed that the police still see journalists as people there to help them, an attitude that threatens their professional impartiality.

Twice in 2002, police tried to force the media to hand over journalistic material. The watchdog body Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) said half a dozen such attempts had occurred in the previous two years. In a case involving the daily National Post, police even found a new way to get round having to obtain search warrants, by using an "assistance order," which obliged publishers to supply investigators with the required information themselves.
Several conflicts and disputes occurred during the year. The state-owned Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) group was hit by a two-month strike after failed union negotiations. Journalists were also worried about the effect of narrowing media ownership on freedom of expression after the CanWest Global group forced its 14 newspapers to print editorials according to its dictates. Russell Mills, editor of the daily Ottawa Citizen, was sacked after 30 years on the paper for failing to submit an editorial for approval.

Pressure and obstruction
At the G8 Summit in Kananaskis on 26 and 27 June 2002, most of the media were confined to the press centre in Calgary, 100kms from the site of the summit, where they were able only to follow on a giant screen the arrival of the world leaders and the official photo sessions. Journalists were treated the same way as the anti-globalisation demonstrators who the authorities feared might cause trouble. Only 150 carefully-chosen journalists were allowed to go to Kananaskis itself.
A court granted police an "assistance order" on 4 July to force Ken Whyte, editor of the Toronto-based National Post, to hand over documents the paper had obtained in 2001. On 3 October, the Ontario superior court ruled that Radio Canada and The Globe and Mail could join the appeal against the order filed by the National Post.
On 4 November, Toronto police seized from Canadian TV (CTV) headquarters film of a jail interview with Salim Danji, a prisoner accused of fraud. The interview had never been broadcast. To obtain the seizure order, police simply told the court the material might be useful in investigations, while admitting they did not know what was on the film.

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see also
2003 Africa Annual Report
2003 Asia Annual Report
2003 Europe Annual Report
2003 North Africa and the Middle East Annual Report