Canadian Broadcasting Corporation v. Her Majesty the Queen

(Alberta) (Criminal) (By Leave)

(Publication ban in case)




Case summaries are prepared by the Office of the Registrar of the Supreme Court of Canada (Law Branch). Please note that summaries are not provided to the Judges of the Court. They are placed on the Court file and website for information purposes only.

Criminal law – Criminal contempt – Publication bans – Interim injunctions – Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (“CBC”) refusing to remove website content covered by publication ban ordered after content was posted – Crown applying for interim injunction and for order citing CBC for criminal contempt – Whether Crown must show strong prima facie case of criminal contempt or strong prima facie case entitling it to mandatory order directing removal of identifying material from website to obtain interim injunction – Whether proof of irreparable harm required on application for injunction in criminal context – Whether limit of Charter-protected right relevant in assessing balance of convenience – Criminal Code, R.S.C. 1985, c. C-46, s. 486.4(2.2) – RJR MacDonald Inc. v. Canada (Attorney General), [1994] 1 S.C.R. 311.

In March 2016, a 14 year-old girl was murdered, and CBC reported on the crime immediately, using the girl’s name and her picture. Several days later, the accused appeared in court, and pursuant to s. 486.4(2.2) of the Criminal Code, the judge issued a mandatory publication ban directing that any information that could identify the victim not be published in any document or broadcast or transmitted in anyway. CBC refused to remove the content it had posted prior to the ban. As a result, the Crown moved for an order citing CBC for criminal contempt and for an interim injunction requiring it to remove the content from its website pending the outcome of the contempt proceedings. The chambers judge refused to issue the injunction. Applying RJR MacDonald, he found that the Crown had not established a strong prima facie case of criminal contempt. A majority of the Court of Appeal allowed the appeal and ordered the injunction.

Lower Court Rulings

April 7, 2016
Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta

160339594XI, 2016 ABQB 204
Application for interim injunction dismissed
October 21, 2016
Court of Appeal of Alberta (Edmonton)

1603-0118-AC, 2016 ABCA 326
Appeal allowed; injunction ordered