January 27, 2014
CONSTRUCTIONS LOUISBOURG LTÉE c. SOCIÉTÉ RADIO-CANADA QCCA
In an earlier judgment, the Superior Court of Quebec had determined that Radio-Canada was not guilty of contempt of court in publishing information from an affidavit which accompanied a production order. This affidavit was under seal but Radio-Canada had obtained it from a confidential source, before the seal was ordered. Radio-Canada published the information after the document was sealed. Radio-Canada was aware of the seal. The Superior Court had determined, among other things, that neither a sealing order nor the principles expressed by the Supreme Court of Canada in MacIntyre include a publication ban.
The Quebec Court of Appeal confirmed the Superior Court’s decision. The Court did not confirm the interpretation to give to the sealing order or to MacIntyre, and made comments which lead to believe that the Superior Court judgment seemed founded in law. The Court of Appeal determined that there was certainly a doubt in the interpretation of the sealing order and about MacIntyre’s principles, doubt which should benefit the accused in a case of contempt of court. The three judges also underlined the exceptional nature of the recourse (contempt of court) and determined that Louisbourg had another useful recourse that it should have used, a motion for a publication ban. The appeal has consequently been rejected with costs.
This case also involved the question of confidential sources. The Court of Appeal determined that the question became theoretical given the rest of the decision and did not decide on this issue.