Vice Canada’s ongoing legal case is about bigger issues in Canadian journalism

Third-party intervenors in yesterday’s appeal by Ben Makuch and Vice Canada provided broader context into the importance and dangers of this case.

Vice Canada and Ben Makuch’s lawyer Iain MacKinnon argued that forcing the national security reporter to give up records of his Kik messenger chats with alleged ISIS member Farah Mohamed Shirdon, who is a Canadian, would be wrong in itself but would also set a dangerous precedent. Intervenors on the case also spoke to its broader implications for journalism in Canada.

Makuch spoke with Shirdon over the messaging app in 2014. Shirdon has been charged with six terror-related offences, but his whereabouts are unknown at present. The production order that Makuch is facing comes from the RCMP as part of the process of building a case against the alleged ISIS fighter.

They say that the Kik chats will provide evidence of Shirdon’s whereabouts at the time he spoke to Makuch.

When Vice Canada and Makuch first went to court in March 2016, MacKinnon argued that the RCMP was on a “fishing expedition” for evidence against Shirdon. But Superior Court Justice Ian MacDonnell upheld the production order in a decision released March 29.

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