The International Federation of Journalists is backing calls to defend and strengthen media freedom in Canada following a series of violations in the past 18 months.
The IFJ joined a coalition of media rights groups in signing an open letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau urging him to strengthen press freedom in the country.
In the letter, which was published yesterday, the coalition urges Trudeau's government to support the Journalistic Sources Protection Act, which was passed in first reading in the House of Commons on 3 May. The law has been strongly supported by unions representing journalists across the country such as the Communications Workers of America (CWA Canada), an IFJ affiliate.
The signatories claim the bill would extend "badly needed legal protections to journalists to ensure they are not made criminals for protecting the anonymity of their sources as well as make it harder for police forces to obtain a search warrant, a court order for the collection of information or the authorization to intercept the communications of a journalist".
There have been growing concerns about the media freedom situation in Canada as the country has fallen from 10th to 22nd in the annual World Press Freedom Index.
The calls for guaranteed protection come as reports showed that in November last year journalists in Québec were under surveillance by police in an attempt to find out the reporters' sources and Toronto-based VICE Media journalist Ben Makuch is facing jail for protecting his sources.
"While we welcome the statement made by the Prime Minister on 3 May during the World Press Freedom Day highlighting the vital role of journalists in democratic society, by this letter we urge him to take action so that the Journalistic Sources Protection Act is adopted and Canada is brought into compliance with international standards for the protection of sources and with a real, trustworthy commitment to press freedom," said IFJ President, Philippe Leruth.