These are the stories we’re watching this week. Here is your Weekly Wire:
- After a two-year legal battle, Vice News reporter Ben Makuch will likely be forced to surrender his correspondence and interview materials with a Canadian ISIS recruit to the RCMP. Last Wednesday, a three-judge panel of the Ontario Court of Appeal sided with the Mounties. Makuch wrote about Farah Shirdon, a Calgary-born man who travelled to the Middle East in March 2014 to join the infamous terrorist organization. The RCMP took notice. In February 2015, it issued a production order for Makuch’s correspondence. Since then, Vice and a number of other advocacy groups—including Canadian Journalists for Free Expression and Reporters Without Borders—have argued that complying with the RCMP’s order will erode the ability of journalists to protect sensitive sources. Vice said on Wednesday it intends to appeal the decision with the Supreme Court of Canada. Expect to see our own profile of Makuch, written by RRJ senior business editor Dylan Freeman-Grist, in the coming weeks.
- Andrew Potter resigned as director of McGill University’s Institute for the Study of Canada two days after a column of his, published last Monday in Maclean’s, used a freezing overnight traffic jam near Montreal to illustrate “the essential malaise eating away at the foundations of Quebec society.” McGill, according to Maclean’s, was pummeled with criticism for Potter’s comments by a number of unnamed “high-profile figures.” The former Maclean’s columnist and Ottawa Citizen editor-in-chief will remain an associate professor at McGill. Nonetheless, the case has sparked outrage from commentators over an apparent violation of Potter’s academic freedom, as well as disgust at several factual errors within the column itself. Potter, for his part, apologized for the column in a now-deleted Facebook post.
- Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government quietly put its 2015 campaign promise to expand the Access to Information Act on hold. The reason? “It’s a complex matter,” a spokesman for Treasury Board president Scott Brison told the Canadian Press, and the government “is committed to taking the time to do it properly.” The original pledge was outlined in “A Fair and Open Government,” a campaign document promising that Access to Information requests would apply to the Prime Minister’s Office as well as other ministerial offices, which are currently exempted from the act. The law, which hasn’t been significantly reformed since it was enacted in 1983, has faced criticism for being too slow, rife with loopholes, and poorly enforced.
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