Broadcaster not in criminal contempt of publication ban by revealing victim’s identity on its website prior to ban being issued

Supreme court | Remedies | Injunctions | Availability of injunctions

Accused was charged with first degree murder of person under age of 18. Upon Crown’s request, mandatory ban prohibiting publication, broadcast or transmission in any way of any information that could identify victim was ordered pursuant to s. 486.4(2.2) of Criminal Code. Before publication ban was issued, defendant broadcaster posted information revealing identity of victim on its website. Because defendant could not remove victim’s identifying information from its website, Crown sought order citing defendant in criminal contempt of publication ban and interlocutory injunction directing removal of information defendant’s website. Chambers judge dismissed Crown’s application. Majority of Court of Appeal allowed Crown’s appeal and granted injunction. Defendant appealed. Appeal allowed. On application for mandatory interlocutory injunction, appropriate criterion for assessing strength of applicant’s case at first stage of test was not whether there was serious issue to be tried, but rather whether applicant had shown strong prima facie case. It was not for Court of Appeal to re-cast Crown’s case as civil application for interlocutory injunction pending permanent injunction. Crown was bound to show strong prima facie case of criminal contempt of court. There was nothing in chamber judge’s reasons or in reasons of majority of Court of Appeal which established that chambers judge, in refusing interlocutory injunction, committed any errors justifying appellate intervention.

R. v. Canadian Broadcasting Corp. (2018), 2018 CarswellAlta 206, 2018 CarswellAlta 207, 2018 SCC 5, 2018 CSC 5, McLachlin C.J.C., Abella J., Moldaver J., Karakatsanis J., Wagner J., Gascon J., Côté J., Brown J., and Rowe J. (S.C.C.); reversed (2016), 2016 CarswellAlta 2034, 2016 ABCA 326, Frans Slatter J.A., J.D. Bruce McDonald J.A., and Sheila Greckol J.A. (Alta. C.A.).

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