Ottawa Citizen

Don’t fight O’Neill ruling, PEN urges government

- BY CHRIS LACKNER

Canadian journalism groups are calling on the federal government not to appeal an Ontario court judge’s ruling that overturned the laws the RCMP used to raid the home of Citizen reporter Juliet O’Neill.

Both PEN Canada and the Canadian Journalist­s for Free Expression say they support last week’s decision by Ontario Superior Court Judge Lynn Ratushny. The judge struck down sections of the Security of Informatio­n Act that the RCMP used to obtain a search warrant for Ms. O’Neill’s home.

“ If the government appeals, it’s a sign that it believes it should still have the widespread powers to do things that the Charter doesn’t allow,” said Chris Waddell, PEN Canada’s national affairs chair. “ And it would be a sign that the government wants to continue to use the kind of campaign it used against Juliet O’Neill on others.”

The RCMP, alleging Ms. O'Neill based a story about Ma- her Arar on leaked documents, obtained search warrants under Section 4 of the Security of Informatio­n Act. Judge Ratushny’s ruling said those laws compromise­d the constituti­onal right to freedom of the press.

“ At some point you would hope the government would be smart enough to re- draft bad legislatio­n rather than keep fighting,” Mr. Waddell said.

The government had 30 days from Oct. 19 to decide whether it will launch an appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada.

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