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Canada; charter; expression; freedom; fundamental; guarantee; newsgathering; press; rights; section 2(b)


The Charter’s thirtieth anniversary is a checkpoint, an opportunity to take stock of s.2(b)’s journey to date. The focus in this paper is freedom of the press, and the central concern the central concern which emerges is the Supreme Court’s avoidance of s.2(b) and its reluctance to grant newsgathering activities status under the Charter. Insisting that the press can be protected in other ways is unconvincing in the face of the Court’s unwillingness to engage the Charter’s explicit guarantee of a free press. Looking ahead, two obstacles stand in the way of robust protection for this freedom: one is theoretical and calls for a concept that explains the constitutional status of the press, the other is definitional and as such seeks a conceptual answer to the challenge of identifying who the press is at this moment in time. Addressing these obstacles will not only enable but also require the Supreme Court to protect the press and its newsgathering activities under s.2(b). If and when that happens, the status of the press under s.2(b) should be much improved at the Charter’s next checkpoint.