Last Updated: Friday, 19 January 2018, 17:46 GMT

World Report - Canada

Publisher Reporters Without Borders
Publication Date September 2011
Cite as Reporters Without Borders, World Report - Canada, September 2011, available at: [accessed 20 January 2018]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.
  • Area: 9,970,610 sq. km
  • Population: 33,500,000
  • Languages: English and French
  • Head of government: Stephen Harper, since February 2006

Generally speaking, the media freedom situation continues to be satisfactory in Canada although it has become harder to access official data. Judicial harassment is the main form of press freedom violation. Some journalists have been sued for defamation, while others have been prosecuted for refusing to reveal their sources.

Access to government-held information has become more difficult since Stephen Harper became prime minister. A report by Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) said government agencies are taking longer to respond to requests for information. According to the report, 44 per cent of requests are not answered within the required period of 30 days and the average period for processing can be as long as 395 days.

Also journalists do not enjoy an absolute right to protect their sources, which threatens investigative reporting. The Canadian supreme court ruled in favour of journalist Daniel Leblanc on this issue in October 2010. But five months before that, in May 2010, it ruled in favour of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in its eight-year-old battle to get the Toronto-based National Post newspaper and its former reporter, Andrew McIntosh, to surrender a document pointing to a conflict of interest in a state-owned bank's loan to a friend of former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, although this would allow the police to identify the source of the leak.

The supreme court ruled that the public interest served by protecting the identity of informants was important, but that in this case it was outweighed by the public interest in getting at the truth.

Updated in September 2011

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