The Power of Perspectives

The Canadian Bar Association

Brooke MacDonald

Media

Has the internet made publication bans obsolete?

By Brooke MacDonald March 29, 2018 29 March 2018

Has the internet made publication bans obsolete?

Two people were killed. Both were under the age of 18. The CBC wrote two articles on the incident, naming the victims. The Crown applied for and received a publication ban on the victims’ names, because they were minors. Should the CBC be required to take down the articles or redact the names of the victims?

According to the Supreme Court of Canada, the answer is no. In the recent decision of R v Canadian Broadcasting Corp., which clarified the legal test for issuing a mandatory interlocutory injunction, Canada’s top court upheld the lower court decision which rejected a broad interpretation of “publish” in the Criminal Code so as to encompass web-based articles posted prior to the ban. 

While the full merits of whether the articles violated the ban were not decided (for the purpose of this proceeding the chambers judge needed only assess the prima facie case for criminal contempt of court), this case raises a number of issues about the way online reporting and sharing of information fits within our current legal system.

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Young Lawyers International Program

Why domestic partners have no rights in South Africa

By Brooke MacDonald April 28, 2017 28 April 2017

Why domestic partners have no rights in South Africa

 

Picture this: You’re 18 years old when you meet someone and fall in love. Two years later, you have a child with them. This person then pays “damages” to your parents for having a child with you outside of wedlock. At age 21, your parents give their approval for you to move in with this person’s mother because “no one else would want you”. Together you have three more children. This person repeatedly tells you that they love you and want to marry you, but they just need more money. You remain with this person’s mother, caring for her until her death. You never get a proper education and you never get the opportunity to gain real work experience because you’ve been raising your four children, managing the household and caring for this person’s family while they are away doing offsite work.

Now imagine that all of this takes place in a township in rural South Africa. You are a Zulu woman and this person who entered your life, three decades ago, is a Zulu man who has recently left you to be with another woman. You live in a country where only males can legally enter into polygamous marriages under Zulu customary law. You also live in a country where you have no legal right to spousal support, because you are not married, either civilly or customarily. Unlike in Canada (except Quebec), there is no legal mechanism in South Africa for you, as a non-married partner, to receive spousal maintenance – nor a number of other benefits.

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