Supreme Court will hear Radio-Canada appeal on revealing anonymous sources

The Supreme Court of Canada says it will hear an appeal filed by Radio-Canada, after one of its investigative reporters was compelled by a Quebec court decision to reveal her anonymous sources.

In March, Marie-Maude Denis was asked to testify and divulge her sources by Quebec Superior Court

Defence lawyers have alleged that media reports — such as those by Marie-Maude Denis — mean that it's impossible for their clients to get a fair trial. (Sarah Leavitt/CBC)

The Supreme Court of Canada announced today it will hear an appeal filed by Radio-Canada, after one of its investigative reporters was compelled to reveal her anonymous sources in a Quebec Superior Court decision last March.

Radio-Canada investigative journalist Marie-Maude Denis is appealing a decision that would have forced her to reveal her sources.

The case comes alongside allegations of fraud, conspiracy and breach of trust against former Liberal cabinet minister Marc-Yvan Côté, which came about after a report by Denis.

That report was a precursor to Côté's arrest by UPAC, Quebec's anti-corruption unit. He now faces several corruption-related charges.

Lawyers for the defence have alleged that information leaks from at least one state employee led to media reports — such as the one by Denis — that made it impossible for their client to get a fair trial.

In a stay of proceedings motion filed by Côté's lawyers, they argued that "the timing of these leaks and their number indicates that they are not the fault of a lone wolf, but of a group of representatives of the order trying to establish a parallel judicial system in Quebec, with access to confidential documents likely to cause significant political damage." 

In March, Denis was asked to testify and divulge her sources — something she claims would violate her journalistic integrity.

Until the case is decided, Côté's trial alongside his five co-accused, including the former Liberal MNA Nathalie Normandeau, is suspended by order of the Superior Court of Quebec.

The Supreme Court decision will be a test for the federal Journalistic Sources Protection Act, which has been in effect since last fall when it passed unanimously in the House of Commons.

The act stipulates that a journalist may refuse to disclose information in court if it is likely to identify a journalistic source, unless certain very specific conditions are met.

With files from Radio-Canada