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U.S. Blogger Breaches Canadian Publication Ban 735

nnet writes "The Toronto Sun is reporting that a U.S. blogger has been breaching a Canadian publication ban on AdScam. While The Sun hasn't given the URL for the blog itself, in fear of a contempt of court charge, this isn't the first time an American has breached a Canadian publication ban according to the article." The Sun story, though, does give a nice title for which to search, and this quickly yields the story in question.
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U.S. Blogger Breaches Canadian Publication Ban

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  • The article... (Score:4, Informative)

    by daveschroeder ( 516195 ) * on Monday April 04, 2005 @04:24PM (#12137208)
    April 02, 2005

    Canada's Corruption Scandal Breaks Wide Open

    A political scandal involving the Public Works Ministry, a government effort called the Sponsorship Program, and allegations of corruption in the ruling Liberal Party has Canada abuzz with rumors of payoffs, Mob ties, and snap elections. For the last two years, Canadian politics has been gripped by the so-called "sponsorship scandal" - tens of millions of dollars in government contracts which were funneled into advertizing firms closely connected with the Liberal government for little or no work, but with shadowy rumours that much of the money found its way back into Liberal coffers. Prime Minister Paul Martin, himself a Liberal, appointed the Gomery Commission to investigate these charges and determine whether to bring charges against government officials for corruption and malfeasance. (See the blog Small Dead Animals for some excellent background on the case.)

    Most of the testimony heard by the Commission has been public, but Judge Gomery has decided to create a publication ban on the testimony of three key witnesses: Jean Brault, president of the ad agency Groupaction, Charles Guité, an officer of the Public Works ministry who worked on the Sponsorship Program, and Paul Coffin, president of the ad agency Coffin Communications. The potential damage of their testimony has so unnerved the Liberal Party that they have reportedly started working towards a snap election so that they will not have to face the voters once the facts surface from the record.

    And well they might, if Brault's testimony gives any indication of what they will face. Thanks to a friend of mine, CQ readers can get a taste of what Brault has already told the Gomery Commission. For obvious reasons, I cannot reveal this person's name or position, but this person is in a position to have the information. Bear in mind that this comes from a single source, so while I have confidence in the information, you should consider the sourcing carefully.

    Payoffs And Kickbacks

    On Thursday, Jean Brault began his testimony, subject to the publication ban, and revealed a massive pattern of corruption going to the highest levels of the Liberal party and government. Brault testified to hundreds of thousands of dollars of bogus transactions designed to benefit the Liberal Party of Canada over a period from 1994 to 2002.

    Most of the illegal campaign contributions involved Brault either hiring "employees" -- who were in fact working full time on Liberal Party activities -- or paying invoices for Liberal Party campaign expenses (which were never declared as such) or making untraceable cash donations to Liberal officials. In exchange for helping the federal Liberals in Quebec, Brault received millions of dollars in federal advertising contracts.

    Brault said he met with Jean Carle, a key aide to then Prime Minister Jean Chretien to propose a more direct way of ensuring that Groupaction got a large share of federal advertising dollars in Quebec. Carle referred Brault to federal bureaucrat Charles ("Chuck") Guité and told him that "there was room for everybody." Guité later put together the sponsorship program, in which five Liberal connected firms -- including Groupaction -- were guaranteed a monopoly on government "sponsorship" advertising (e.g. federal
    advertising at sporting or cultural events) and related work. The sponsorship program eventually became a huge slush fund into which over $250 million was poured, over $100 million of which was paid in fees and commissions to these five advertising firms, with little or any evidence of work done or value for money.

    In exchange for these large contracts for little or no work, Brault kicked back generously to the Liberal Party, putting Liberal organizers on his payroll while they continued to perform party work (including, at one point, Prime Minister Jean Chrétien's brother, Gaby Chrétien), paying invoices to other companies for work actually done for the Liberal Party, a
    • by sulli ( 195030 ) * on Monday April 04, 2005 @04:28PM (#12137268) Journal
      The RCMP will march to Ann Arbor and demand that you delete the above post!

      Politely, of course.

      • Too late.

        I'm in Canada, and I'm emailing it to everyone I know.

        Fuck it, and fuck everyone who's involved. No wonder there was so much pressure from the former PM to close down the inquiry.

        • by canwaf ( 240401 )
          Are you actually dense that the Liberal Government is trying to shut down this inquiery??

          If you look at the Hansard from early last year it was clear that the Liberal MAJORITY goverment was pushing for an enquiry while the Conservative Opposition was quite plainly against it. The reason why the publican ban is ordered by Justice Gomery is to allow those involved to have a fair trial, a right given to them by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

          You have no right to subvert the law in this case, an
          • by tomhudson ( 43916 ) <> on Monday April 04, 2005 @04:45PM (#12137525) Journal
            Hey, read a newspaper once in a while -

            Chretien's lawyers tried to have the Gomery inquiry stopped.

            Here's s/1106682011080_102091211 [] one of MANY links.

            You have no right to subvert the law in this case, and I sincerely hope you get charged for subverting a Justice's edict.
            It was already subverted, asswipe. Once it's out, there's no putting it back in the can.

            As for his "fair trial", that can still be done - I'm sure we can find a dozen people who've been living in caves the last 5 years.

            • As for his "fair trial", that can still be done - I'm sure we can find a dozen people who've been living in caves the last 5 years.

              It's much easier than that. Just get a bunch of Americans and Europeans to volunteer to be on the jury. I mean, most Americans have only the vaguest notion of where Canada is even located. Europeans in my experience know where Canada is, but unless they're French they don't see any reason why anyone would want to go there.

              Speaking personally, I've visited Canada twice and

          • by OECD ( 639690 ) on Monday April 04, 2005 @04:55PM (#12137663) Journal

            Colby Cosh [] has a very interesting post on this issue (despite being a Canuck, and subject to the ban.) Sample:

            ...if a ban doesn't work in practice... it can't meet Oakes.[a test of 'constitutionality' under Canadian law.] would actively help free the hands of Canadian webloggers and reporters if our foreign cousins were to be aggressive about "publishing" the substance of the Brault testimony outside the reach of Canadian law.

          • Also, the ban failed the test described [] here, once it was posted all over the net:

            Under the metaconstitutional Oakes test, any infringement of individual Charter liberties, such as a publication ban, must have a "rational connection" to the intended benefit and must be the most minimally restrictive measure that can bring about the benefit.

            The argument here is that if a ban doesn't work in practice--say, because American webloggers are all printing the mind-blowing stuff

        • by ShieldW0lf ( 601553 ) on Monday April 04, 2005 @05:12PM (#12137854) Journal
          I hear a lot of bullshit coming from people out there about how this "publication ban" is a suppression of freedom of speech and how "hypocritical" we are up here in Canada.

          But not too many seem to have clued in to the fact that, contrary to the catcalls of censorship, all of the testimony was made available to the press which is why we are reading it. The "publication ban" is a temporary measure intended to ensure a fair and impartial jury trial. Providing a fair and impartial jury trial requires either withholding the testimony from the public until the jury has reached a verdict, or disclosing it but keeping it from publication.

          You all seem to think that this guy is some sort of "hero" for publishing this stuff. But all he's done is present one portion of the facts and testimony in isolation from the others. Far from informing, this is just leading those who aren't mentally disciplined enough to withhold judgement until getting all the facts to a knee jerk reaction that will be discussed around the water cooler until it has taken on the authority of repetition. It's basically taking us further and further away from any possibility of justice and towards a witch hunt.

          Whoever this "secret source" is, I for one am totally disgusted with his or her demonstrated lack of integrity, and am hoping that they go to jail for this and never hold a position of trust again for the rest of their life.

          I hope the courts will learn from this, and start preventing the press from being present for these sorts of testimonies at all. They have demonstrated that they can neither be trusted nor compelled not skew the trial, so they just shouldn't be there. They should recieve and report on the complete facts of the case when the court documents are released. Aside from being in the interests of justice, that would be responsible journalism, which this clearly is not.
          • by tomhudson ( 43916 ) <> on Monday April 04, 2005 @05:24PM (#12138025) Journal
            You all seem to think that this guy is some sort of "hero" for publishing this stuff. But all he's done is present one portion of the facts and testimony in isolation from the others.
            All the more reason NOT to have a publication ban.

            Considering that we may be heading into a snap election because the government wants us to vote BEFORE all this stuff leaks out, I think the ban was more harmful to the common good than just disclosing everything.

            Would any of this have made slashdot if it HADN'T been banned? Of course not.

            The ban was stupid, and it didn't work. It was inevitable that it wouldn't work.

            Oh, BTW, the CRTC (the Canadian equivalent of the FCC) has already stated plenty of times that they will NOT regulate the internet. That's because:

            1. it's not technically possible
            2. pretty much all communication between a server and a client (the current web model) is done based on a request-response, as opposed to a broadcast-receive.
            That last point is important - if I am reading a message or page I have requested (which is what happens whenever I click on a link), that is not a general broadcast - it's a one-on-one communication, between me and a server outside the jurisdiction of the Canadian government.

          • Anything that slows down the transparency in government, or the free telling of the occurrences in government, is in essence, is censorship.

            This just happens to be time censorship.

            In America, there would have been cameras in the meetings and conversation all over the country. All this does is not make any public videotape available to those that would like to know, and helps minimize the impact and importance to the public.

            Man, every time I screwed up, I would love to make everyone talk abou
        • Here's a link to the actual ban []. Just thought someone should include it ...
      • by hsmith ( 818216 ) on Monday April 04, 2005 @05:06PM (#12137788)
        Until you produce your above post in french as well, you can consider your warning null and void
    • Mob ties

      The deadly Canadian mafia is not to be meddled with. They will sign you up to furniture catalogues, topple your lawn gnomes and even put flaming bags of poo on your porch! Heh heh[ NO CARRIER ]

      (yes, I live in Canada, and yes, I am aware that there is a lot of dangerous mob activity, despite the friendly image of the country)

    • by francisew ( 611090 ) on Monday April 04, 2005 @05:26PM (#12138057) Homepage

      Canadians have a serious problem: corruption in government, with money being funneled in illegal ways.

      This scandal implicates the previous prime-minister, the current prime-minister, and a slew of relatively wealthy people.

      A huge inquiry ensues, and costs an amount similar to the amount of money that was originally stolen (perhaps, misused is a better word). In particular, around 250 million is supposedly improperly accounted for, and the commission investigating the problem is costing another 130 million.

      Since the inquiry isn't a criminal case against the individuals involved, the commissioner in charge of the inquiry has asked that journalists not publicise the events, so that an unbiased jury can be found for the real criminal proceeedings.

      Members of the public are still welcome to go see the events, just not to publicly report them. (keep in mind that until the publication ban was put in place, the TV channel with the live hearings was getting amazing ratings in Quebec- hence constituting a serious problem for finding an unbiased jury)

      I think it is pretty sad that someone finds it necessary to publicise their own version of events on their blog, in defiance of the ban, because it presents all kinds of problems in actually prosecuting the people who have allegedly committed serious crimes.

      As per the slashdotting, a pity even the slashdot effect hasn't torn the site down.

      The whole freedom of speech issue is not really a big problem for most people I know in Montreal, as there is no permanent secrecy being imposed. The events being investigated happened several years ago, and it doesn't make a huge difference if the details are known today or in a few months- except for the prosecution aspect.

      The really scary freedom restrictions here are the 'security certificates' which allow the government to throw people in jail, and not tell people what evidence they are being convicted with.

      Then again, the same thing seems to happen in the US, only justified with terms like 'enemy combatant', instead of 'security certificate'.

    • News at 11. I don't know which is more discouraging, that I cynically don't find this sort of news at all surprising anymore or that the rest of the public rarely seems to take an interest in it either. Even when the people involved have been demonstrated to have put a lot of planning into the kickbacks and gone to a tremendous effort to keep them covered up, no one ever seems to raise an eyebrow much less vote the bastards out of office or prosecute them.

      I seem to recall that China treats corruption as a

  • by sulli ( 195030 ) * on Monday April 04, 2005 @04:25PM (#12137228) Journal
    How quaint.
    • by BurpingWeezer ( 199436 ) on Monday April 04, 2005 @04:29PM (#12137283)
      The idea was to try to provide the defendant with an unbiased jury.

      Quaint indeeed...

      • then try a closed trial... put the transcripts in the public eye once your jury has been chosen and can be shown to be reasonably un-biased.

        this is just stupid. Here in america we have enough trouble keeping sealed grand jury testimony a secret... take a look at the BALCO investigation and the shit-storm it has generated with the baseball/steroid thing... and thats not even important stuff.

        this info needs to be public... if you want it to stay out of the public eye to allow for unbiased jury selection t
      • by ravind ( 701403 ) on Monday April 04, 2005 @04:49PM (#12137595)
        Isn't it ironic. On the one had we hold a jury of our peers in high enough regard, that they are allowed to judge us, on the other we believe that allowing them to read a newspaper makes them unable to be objective in court.
    • by cperciva ( 102828 ) on Monday April 04, 2005 @04:30PM (#12137303) Homepage
      How quaint.

      Canada takes quite seriously the concept of making sure that suspects receive a fair trial. When the publication of evidence in advance of the trial would make it impossible for someone to receive a fair trial, a publication ban is entirely reasonable.
    • by Garin ( 26873 ) on Monday April 04, 2005 @04:38PM (#12137417)
      Yes, a publication ban on an event open to the public. Not quaint, but rather an indication of the vast differences between Canada and the US.

      Here in Canada, a fair amount of the law relies on common sense and good will. The intent of these publication bans is to ensure the accused gets a fair trial. This is essentially the judge saying to the press, "Look, if the whole world hears this testimony before the trial gets fully underway and everything can be put into a proper context, it will be really hard to get a reasonably impartial jury so this person gets a fair trial." They know very well that it's impossible to guarantee it won't come out, but Canadian journalists typically respect it.

      What's more important? Having one newspaper scoop another in an attempt to splash the headlines with more sensationalism? Or having an accused person get a fair trial?

      Note that this isn't censorship or a closed trial or any of that nonsense. You can physically go down and sit in the courtroom if you really want to (and lots of the public do). Sometimes conflicting rights have to be balanced, and most Canadians that I know feel that, in this case, the right of the accused to receive a fair trial outweigh the rights of media to publish this stuff immediately.
    • by elsilver ( 85140 ) on Monday April 04, 2005 @04:44PM (#12137500) Homepage
      OK, so, here's a little background.

      There is currently a royal inquiry going on into some mishandling of federal advertisement contracts. A royal inquiry is similar to congressional hearings in the US, except this one is not lead by congressmen, but by a retired judge. When finished he gets to report back to parliament on his findings.

      Now, some of the people subpeonaed to give testimony at the inquiry are also being charged with crimes related to the events under discussion. They will go to court in the next several months on those charges.

      The publication ban was put in place to ensure things that these people say at the inquiry will not affect their chances of a fair jury trial. (Compare this to the baseball hearings where they players wanted immunity for their testimony, for many of the same reasons.) The ban will be ended after the jury has been sequestered, at which all that was said during the ban can be made public.

      Note that this is only a publication ban -- it doesn't prevent people from actually going to the hearings to hear for themselves; it just attempts to limit what the jury pool will hear outside of the court case.

      Publication bans are common in Canada, and typically have a similar duration and purpose -- to prevent the jury on high profile cases from getting the "facts" of the case from anywhere but the courtroom. The media typically fight the ban, and often win certain relaxations on the ban (you can report the events, but not identify the person giving testimony, etc.). In this case, Judge Gomery has said the media can ask at the end of each day what of that day's testimony can be released.

      I'm generally in favour of such time limited bans, since they are designed to help ensure a fair trial. However, it looks like maintaining such bans is getting more and more difficult in the era of the Internet. Other cases where Canadian publication bans have been breached by American organizations include the Air India case (IIRC), and the Paul Bernardo case.


  • by operagost ( 62405 ) on Monday April 04, 2005 @04:28PM (#12137264) Homepage Journal
    If bloggers wish to be afforded the privileges and protections held by mainstream journalists (the ones not named Jayson Blair or Mary Mapes), they should follow the same ethical standards.
    • What defines the difference between a blogger and a journalist? The fact a journalist is hired by a company? Why trust a company over an individual? In this case, people wouldn't have known if all we had for news were "mainstream journalists."

      Mainstream journalists work for businesses. Their only incentive to be truthful is business and reputation. For bloggers, it's mostly just reputation.
      • Mainstream journalists work for businesses. Their only incentive to be truthful is business and reputation. For bloggers, it's mostly just reputation.

        From your post, we can conclude that bloggers have half as much incentive to be truthful, which sounds about right.
    • If bloggers wish to be afforded the privileges and protections held by mainstream journalists (the ones not named Jayson Blair or Mary Mapes), they should follow the same ethical standards.

      If flesh-and-blood reporters felt too ethical to report the story, no publication ban would be needed. The publication ban is there to prevent journalists from reporting on it. Evidently, there are journalists who want to. Is there in fact any evidence that this story wasn't in some way written up or leaked by a flesh-
    • by MajorDick ( 735308 ) on Monday April 04, 2005 @04:51PM (#12137616)
      Like, Geraldo, or maybe Dan Rather ?

      Most REAL Journalists are the slimyiest bunch of pond scum out there.
    • by As Seen On TV ( 857673 ) <> on Monday April 04, 2005 @04:53PM (#12137644)
      Bloggers do not wish to be afforded special privileges or protections. But they don't think journalists should be, either. See, bloggers as a group believe in personal responsibility, and that everybody should be treated equally under the law.

      It's the journalists who think they should be entitled to special privileges and protections, and that bloggers shouldn't.
    • Candian rules for Canadians, American rules for Americans.

      Canada is certainly not the only country in the world to curtail the freedom of speech purportedly in order to protect a defendant's right to a fair trial. And if Canadians want to have that rule, that's fine. But to try to impose such rules on American citizens for publishing something in America, that's just wrong. That's trying to impose Canadian laws on us. And to try to prohibit Canadians from simply linking to an American website is just stup
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 04, 2005 @04:28PM (#12137267)
    Get the site linked on Slashdot!
  • by pla ( 258480 ) on Monday April 04, 2005 @04:29PM (#12137288) Journal
    Imagine that... The internet actually getting used for one of its single most useful potentials - Preserving true and absolute freedom of speech.

    Guess what? Canadian gag-orders don't apply in the US (and vice-versa). US cryptography export restrictions don't apply from Norway. Just about any of the BS Sharia laws don't apply outside the Middle East. Pretty much nothing applies in Vanuatu.

    Welcome to the dawn of a new era. Wake up, world leaders, and smell the coffee - Doesn't it smell so deliciously like your obsolescence? Your petty little regional fiefdoms no longer exist. If the entire planet doesn't agree with you, you lose.
    • This is not about freedom of speach , this is about a fair trial , because this info has been leaked now this man(who may very well be guilty or not i do not know ) has now some obviously very persuave arguments against him out in the open ready to be editorialised and scurtinised .Now i agree with freedom but when that freedom hurts someone else i think we have a responsiblity to hold back .
      "The information, I gather, is very, very damaging and very prejudicial," Shanoff said.

      if this gets out this can cause alot of problems. Now i agree you cant stop change , but you must learn to use it responsibly.
      The sky may not have falen for most of us , but the person on trial has just potentialy had their life ruined(i repeat i do not know much about this case , so maybe they deserve it) so perhaps this is not a legal issue , but the person who posted the blog should not have done this right now (the person who leaked it should definantly be nailed to the wall though) from an ethics standpoint , If bloggers want to be seen as journalists then ethics should really be important.

      The gag order does not apply , but the blogger must of known about it and for this reason is in the USA.There is perhaps no legal issue , but the ethics are definantly in question here
  • by to_kallon ( 778547 ) on Monday April 04, 2005 @04:29PM (#12137289)
    Charles Guité, an officer of the Public Works ministry who worked on the Sponsorship Program

    i misread this as "charles guilté" and was immediately confused as to how he'd not already been convicted.
  • My perspective (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Ron Harwood ( 136613 ) <[ac.xunil] [ta] [rdoowrah]> on Monday April 04, 2005 @04:30PM (#12137308) Homepage Journal
    Disclaimer: I'm Canadian.

    Yes, there is a publication ban. However, Canadian courts have no jurisdiction outside of Canada's borders. Just as US courts have no pull inside of Canada's borders.

    If there was a publication ban on a case in the states - Canadians could feel free to ignore it.

    However, if this is a Canadian posting on a US blog site... he should be prepared to spend some time in jail.

  • by Timesprout ( 579035 ) on Monday April 04, 2005 @04:30PM (#12137309)
    We must liberate Canada from this evil immediately.
  • at best heresay... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Ubergrendle ( 531719 ) on Monday April 04, 2005 @04:30PM (#12137310) Journal
    ...more likely, 'attention whore'.

    The gist of the article is "i know a guy who told me what the secret testimony was". Most likely Gomery banned the publication of this information on the basis that it was unsubstantiated in court, and could be damaging to the Liberals even if untrue. For Slashdotters not familiar with the case, Gomery has been exceedingly level handed and fair and in fact if anything is more likely biased against the Liberals than not.

    If all of this DOES turn out to be true I wouldn't be surprised, given that the advertisement scandal gets deeper and deeper every day, but I don't think this blogger amounts to much.

    Before everyone starts yelling "too bad Canadians don't have the 4th amendment!" blah blah blah, just ask yourself how you'll feel when the next multiple-murderer gets off in the US due to jury tampering because of a Canadian publication.
    • how would a canadian publication tamper with a US jury?

    • 4225.php []

      Canadian bloggers may face charges for posting links to's article. That to me seems to validate most of what he posted. Bear in mind what happens in that court is public record, people just aren't allowed to publish it.

    • Actually, Judge Gomery was asked to put a ban on this by Breault's lawyers, because its publication could have an deleterious effect on Breault's trial to be held next September. Gomery probably approved the ban to respect Breault's right of a fair and equitable trial, a fundamental right of the Canadian constitution. It would be hard for Breault to be fairly judged fairly bu a jury if the whole country is being told by the media how corrupted he was. Also, before imploring freedom of speech, know that ALL
  • Never thought... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Wrexs0ul ( 515885 ) <> on Monday April 04, 2005 @04:30PM (#12137312) Homepage
    Never thought I'd say this, but thank you Americans for making my country free, it's sincerely appreciated.

    There's way more to this liberal scandal than we're supposed to know. I understand the necessity for short-term publication bans when a trial is in progress, but anything pertinent to discovering the truth about something (hence a trial) should really be accessible when it comes to public office.

  • no, not because of TFA, but because a /. editor actually did some of that new-fangled, whadayacallit, editing. I think I need to lie down.
  • Invade! (Score:2, Funny)

    by alta ( 1263 )
    I'm not going to bother reading it, because it's long, confusing and boring. I'm going to give my stock answer to anything involving Canada, simply because once again, it holds true...

    Lets' invade!!!Someone tell bush that they are the REAL target.
  • We're spending millions to conduct an enquiry on how taxpayers dollars were wasted. /Canadian
  • Jury bias (Score:2, Insightful)

    But surely the reason for the ban in the first place was so that the jury pool will remain unbiased... it's not as though the testimony is "secret" - journalists have been allowed in. If the prosecution's case collapsed because of this, would it really be something to be proud of?
  • With press gags, Canada's government discards its own protection: competing debate of the case in a free press. So the blogger becomes the only voice presenting the story to most of the public. The need to violate the gag selects people whose version of the story is is more antigovernment. So the gag prevents people who respect (or fear) the government from providing the accurate picture which can come only from multiple independent reporters. This tawdry little conflict illustrates how free, independent pr
    • I don't like the way that Canada does press bans on court proceedings, but the thing to keep in mind is that the bans are temporary, and it all comes out after the trial is over.
  • by Ironsides ( 739422 ) on Monday April 04, 2005 @04:38PM (#12137423) Homepage Journal
    "The information, I gather, is very, very damaging and very prejudicial," he said. "If it's accessed by large numbers of people in Montreal where the trial will take place it could have a prejudicial effect."

    There is an easy solution to this. Have a change of venue to someplace where they haven't been paying much attention to the news. I recomend somewhere in the Northwest Territories.
  • by Easy2RememberNick ( 179395 ) on Monday April 04, 2005 @04:46PM (#12137539)
    Someone from the US is interested in Canadian politics? Weird.
  • by bigberk ( 547360 ) <> on Monday April 04, 2005 @04:48PM (#12137576)
    Both the prosecution and defense deserve a fair trial. This includes protecting potentially biasing information from leaking out into the general public, since that's where jurors, witnesses, etc come from. A publication ban does not mean that the result of the trial are kept secret. It is a legal measure in an attempt to guard fairness for the duration of a trial.

    By the way, violating such a court imposed ban is a criminal offence and I believe you can be jailed for it in Canada.
  • by ct.smith ( 80232 ) on Monday April 04, 2005 @04:55PM (#12137661) Homepage
    It maight be good for the American audience here to know that the gag order applies to testimony at an inquiry, not to a trial.

    The gag order, in this case, is to prevent any bias at the trial stage.
  • by Hamster Lover ( 558288 ) * on Monday April 04, 2005 @05:06PM (#12137787) Journal
    First, we do not have grand juries in Canada and the trappings of secrecy therein, but we do have a process called preliminary inquiry which achieves the same function and is open to the public like all our courts are. Publication bans are routinely ordered to protect the rights of the accused until the conclusion of the trial.

    Now the Gomery Inquiry is a legal tribunal initiated by parliament to investigate possible corruption surrounding advertising contracts given to certain agencies that are believed to be loyal to the ruling Liberal Party. Extremely damaging testimony was recently given by witnesses during the inquiry and the judge invoked a publication ban to protect the rights of those witnesses who face certain criminal prosecution. Note that the ban does not remain in force forever and, while I don't agree with it, the testimony will eventually be made public.

    The crux of the matter is while the rights of potentially accussed persons are protected we are likely to face another election in the very near future before the information is made public. Without the knowledge of the testimony the public may be heading into an election with more questions than answers. Does the right of the public to know the substance of the allegations made during the inquiry outweigh the rights of accused persons?

    I think the publication ban does more harm then good as speculation swirls around the subject and the real truth remains hidden. In the meantime, the Liberal minority goverment is probably happy with things the way they are considering the potential damange to their reputation.
  • Overblown (Score:4, Informative)

    by sjames ( 1099 ) on Monday April 04, 2005 @05:24PM (#12138038) Homepage Journal

    The cries of censorship seem a bit overblown to me. This isn't a perminant ban, just a temporary gag order, much like those issued daily in U.S. courts. All it says is that the information needs to be held until a jury is selected and sequestered for the upcoming (about a month) trials.

    They're allowing reporters and photographers. Presumably, those stories and photos may be published once a fair trial can be assured.

    Nobody likes these gag orders, but you can't select an impartial jury once details of a case have been all over national news and everyone has formed an opinion based on the news. As important as freedom of the press is, a fair trial by an impartial jury is also important.

    The thing to watch for with gag orders is not their existance, but if they are, in fact, lifted as soon as is possable. I guess we'll know in this case in a month or two.

    • Not Overblown (Score:3, Informative)

      by dhakk ( 613823 )
      You are correct for the most part, but I think there is relevance here due to the Canadian system.

      If the Liberal party can suppress this unfavorable information long enough to hold a new election for themselves (as this is a parlimentary system and terms are not specifically fixed), they could be already elected by the time any nasty details came out!

      Its like sweeping your dirt underneath a rug until just after your relatives leave.
  • by lightspawn ( 155347 ) on Monday April 04, 2005 @05:27PM (#12138063) Homepage
    So the public can observe the proceedings, as long as nobody tells anybody else?

    A secret simply cannot be contained this way. It sounds like they're relying on people to be honest - the data isn't even watermarked individually in each person's brain - so how can they really be surprised?

    It sounds like they don't have a problem with the entire population of Canada being present (barring physical restrictions) but for some reason replicating the information later is bad.

    Come on! If you don't want information to get out, restrict access to it. The story here is not that what happened; it's the broken security itself.

    P.S. Let me get this straight: If I attend the proceedings, I'm not allowed to tell anybody? Even a spouse? Or am I only allowed to tell people I meet in person? Is it legal to send snail mail regarding the experience? email? send it to a mailing list? Is it OK as long as I don't do this for a living?

    The whole thing seems to be based on the distinction between members of the press and non-publicators. This distinction is arbitrary and archaic.

  • by kps ( 43692 ) on Monday April 04, 2005 @05:37PM (#12138166) Homepage
    Hon. Stephen Harper, Leader of the Opposition: Mr Speaker, today Liberal spin doctors and Liberal lawyers are trying -- actually, they have the gall to depict the Liberal Party as the victim of the sponsorship scandal. Caught as it is, will the government at least have the decency to admit that the only victim is the Canadian taxpayer whose money was stolen?

    Speaker: The Right Honourable Prime Minister.

    Paul Martin: Mr Speaker

    Some Member: Guilty!

    Speaker: Order, order. The Right Honorable Prime Minister has the floor.

    Rt. Hon. Paul Martin, Prime Minister: Mr Speaker, the Liberal Party consists of thousands of men and women, in Quebec and right across this country, who are dedicated to the Liberal Party and to their country. They work day in and day out, Mr Speaker, for the benefit of Canadians, and Mr Speaker, those members of the Liberal party should not have to bear the rumours, Mr Speaker, or the burden of the activities of a very small few who may have colluded against the Party and against, Mr Speaker, the well being of Canadians, and we will defend, Mr Speaker, those Liberals. These are Canadians, Mr Speaker, who have given their all for this country.

    Some Member: Hear, hear.

    Speaker: [inaudible] the Opposition.

    Stephen Harper: Mr Speaker, the judge, police, and Canadians will be the judge of how involved the Liberal party is.

    On another subject, last week Canadians finally learned the details of the brutal torture and murder of Canadian journalist Zahra Kazemi. Now it turns out, for months the Prime Minister knew the true extent of the brutality inflicted upon Ms Kazemi. Instead of taking a firm stand against Iran, he sent our ambassador back to that oppressive regime. What kind of callous, spineless government reestablishes normal diplomatic relations with this kind of regime?

    Speaker: Hon. Prime Minister.

    Paul Martin: [inaudible] ... respond first to the preamble. The fact is, Mr Speaker, that Candians do de-- [aside] are Americans -- that Canadians should have the facts, Mr Speaker, and that is why I called for the Gomery commission, that is why this government, Mr Speaker, put that commission in place, Mr Speaker, it is precisely to have those facts, and that's why there should not be an election until Justice Gomery has reported, because Canadians deserve to know the facts.

    Now, Mr Speaker, if I may respond to the Honourable Member's question, if the baying on the other side... the member has asked a question, ....

    Speaker: I'm afraid the Right Honourable Prime Minister has used up the time responding to the preamble, but I suspect there might be a supplementary question, may be a supplementary question from the Honourable Leader of the Opposition.

    Stephen Harper: Mr Speaker, may I just say that that is a perfect example of what is wrong with this government. They should have used this opportunity to defend a Canadian citizen, not the Liberal party.

    [continues re Iran]

  • by Aunty Spam ( 781706 ) on Monday April 04, 2005 @05:56PM (#12138332)
    A somewhat similar thing happened during the CDN media blackout of the trial of the infamous Carla Homolka. There was a complete media blackout in Canada, and suddenly a newsgroup which Paul Vixie had newgrouped for me back when I was feeling a bit blue ( was taken over by a bunch of Canadians desparate for news of what was going on, and a place to talk about it, and which was beyond the reach of the CDN authorities.'s still archived in Google groups!: evil [] (URL redirected because the Google url is so darned long.)

Happiness is twin floppies.