Citizen reporter/activist requests (and receives) permission to videotape Mississauga Judicial Inquiry
March 13th, 2010
Well, Donald Barber won a victory for citizen-journalism on Friday, March 12, 2010 when he stood up before the Mississauga Judicial Inquiry and requested to be allowed to videotape the proceedings.
A small BIG victory for Alternate Media.
So what follows is a cut-and-paste of the exchange (from the March 12, 2010 transcript provided at the Mississauga Judicial Inquiry website)
1 2 3 4 MISSISSAUGA JUDICIAL INQUIRY 5 6 7 8 9 Before: Associate Chief Mr. Justice J. Douglas 10 Cunningham 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 HELD AT: 20 Provincial Offence Court 21 Mississauga, Ontario 22 March 12, 2010 23 24 Pages 1 to 36 25
2 1 APPEARANCES 2 3 William McDowell )Commission Counsel 4 Naomi Loewith ) 5 6 Freya Kristjanson )For Mayor Hazel McCallion 7 8 Brian Gover (np) ) For Peter McCallion 9 Lusia Ritacca (np) ) 10 11 Clifford Lax, Q.C. (np) )For City of Mississauga 12 Tracy Wynne ) 13 James Renihan ) 14 15 Michael Barrack )For OMERS 16 John Finnigan (np) ) 17 James Roks (np) ) 18 19 Alan Mark (np) )For Enersource 20 Kelly Friedman (np) ) 21 22 Don Jack (np) ) For 157 Square One 23 Adam Goodman (np) ) 24 25
3 1 TABLE OF CONTENTS 2 Page No. 3 Discussion 4 4 5 CAROL HORVAT, Sworn 6 Examination-in-chief by Mr. William McDowell 16 7 Cross-Examination by Ms. Freya Kristjanson 33 8 9 Certificate of transcript 36 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25
4 1 EXHIBIT 2 NO. DESCRIPTION PAGE NO. 3 1 Terms of reference 15 4 2 Carol Horvat's documents 16 5 3 Affidavit of Sean Acheampong 34 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25
5 1 --- Upon commencing at 10:06 a.m. 2 3 THE COURT CLERK: All rise. Please be 4 seated. 5 COMMISSIONER DOUGLAS CUNNINGHAM: Good 6 morning. Mr. McDowell, I know, before we begin the 7 matter that brings us here today, there are some 8 preliminary issues that we should probably discuss. 9 MR. WILLIAM MCDOWELL: Right. Yes, 10 Commissioner, the first one is the presence of various 11 media in the room. For the information of counsel and 12 anyone spectating, we will have a media room set up when 13 the hearings proper begin; we just don't have that set up 14 yet. And once we have that established, we will have a 15 single source medial feed which goes into the next room 16 and maybe carried on -- on television. So in other 17 words, we'll have one (1) camera, and then the other 18 media will watch in that room. We have two (2) cameras 19 now because we haven't yet made that arrangement. 20 Now, it was drawn to our attention that 21 last day, unbeknownst to us, there was someone taking 22 video in the courtroom which was then place on a blog on 23 the internet, and whatever the merits -- or demerits of 24 doing that are, we hadn't realized that. And it has not 25 been the ordinary practice of inquiries to allow anyone
6 1 who wants to to come in with a camera and take either 2 still photos or video. In fact, there's been a practice 3 of -- of recognizing accredited media. 4 So this morning we have Mr. Don Barber in 5 court. He's been very candid with us that he intends to 6 film the proceedings, or video the proceedings, and/or 7 take still photos. And I've raised the concern with him 8 that I expect that you would want to follow the ordinary 9 practice, which is to recognize accredited media. He has 10 indicated that he doesn't agree with that approach, and 11 I've told him that if he wishes to address you briefly, 12 he could do that. 13 Mr. Barber...? 14 COMMISSIONER DOUGLAS CUNNINGHAM: Mr. 15 Barber, good morning. 16 MR. DON BARBER: Good morning, Sir. I've 17 been a citizen reporter for a number of years; I have a 18 website, The Democratic Reporter. I've been reporting on 19 a number of things. It's not really a blog site. And 20 it's -- I always put it up on YouTube. 21 I was using a little tiny camera, this one 22 right here, to do the video, and I was doing it rather 23 openingly out there, and the court reporter even noted it 24 halfway through, and so I was, you know, not hiding 25 anything of any nature.
7 1 As the -- the attorney did mention, that 2 there is no media site set up at this point in time, and 3 as far as I know there's no complaint as to regards to 4 what or how it was posted, altered, or anything like 5 that, so it's an accurate record. 6 I would raise some questions in regards to 7 accredited media. In this day and age, what exactly is 8 that supposed to mean, and what are -- why would you go 9 with a so-called accredited media? Like, why -- why are 10 they going to be given these privileges and other people 11 who are in the community and serving the community's 12 interest are not going to be allowed equal opportunity? 13 I'm not here to create a fuss or cause a disturbance; I 14 didn't last time. 15 And also, as a person who has been 16 inspired by your words last time, in regards to the 17 fairness of funding to parties before the courts and 18 whatnot, I too have -- following a similar path with my 19 particular circumstances with the City of Mississauga and 20 the Region of Peel. 21 So, I would ask for the opportunity to 22 discreetly make occasional picture, do some video with 23 the small camera which doesn't cause any disturbance, and 24 generally record the -- the proceedings for reporting 25 purposes and my own efforts at trying to seek funding
8 1 from the City of Mississauga and the Region of Peel. 2 COMMISSIONER DOUGLAS CUNNINGHAM: Thank 3 you. 4 Mr. McDowell...? 5 MR. WILLIAM MCDOWELL: Well, Mr. Barber 6 is right, that the distinction between the traditional 7 media and ordinary citizens, or bloggers, is becoming 8 blurred, and the Supreme Court of Canada in the Grant v. 9 Torstar case recently addressed that, but nothing in that 10 decision or any other authority -- authority of which I'm 11 aware addresses the issue of whether the distinction has 12 been completely obliterated. It may have been blurred 13 for liability purposes, but I say that you're still 14 entitled to -- to say that you will treat accredited 15 media differently than anyone who happens to come into a 16 courtroom with a camera. 17 And I am respectful of the notion of 18 citizen journalism, but it cannot be that we face the 19 prospect of having ten (10) cameras in the courtroom, 20 because it would be difficult to say yes to Mr. Barber 21 and no to anyone else who -- who approached you on the 22 same footing. 23 So there -- there may well be an issue 24 there, but for -- for the present purposes, I think you 25 should resolve it by not permitting Mr. Barber to take
9 1 images. 2 COMMISSIONER DOUGLAS CUNNINGHAM: Thank 3 you. Any other counsel wish to speak to this matter? 4 5 (BRIEF PAUSE) 6 7 COMMISSIONER DOUGLAS CUNNINGHAM: Mr. 8 Barber, what is it that -- I didn't frankly notice you at 9 all the last time we were here. I gather you were here, 10 but I -- I -- I didn't notice you. What -- what is it 11 that you wish to do today? 12 MR. DON BARBER: Well, yesterday I was 13 asked to come here because Ursula Kent-Bennett -- the 14 name would be familiar to you; she is -- was called by 15 the Commission -- 16 COMMISSIONER DOUGLAS CUNNINGHAM: Yes. 17 MR. DON BARBER: -- to present evidence - 18 - because she could not be here, or be there, and she -- 19 I don't see her in the audience today either -- she asked 20 me to come here and make a record of what was going on so 21 that she could attend to her ailing parents. And I'm 22 prepared to do the same thing for her again today. 23 I was right over there in the corner, and 24 I moved over the lectern and put my hat down and then put 25 the camera on top of it. And, as you noted, I was not
10 1 disturbing anybody or making any particular presentation 2 that would interfere with the court's activities. 3 As regards to anybody coming up here and 4 taking pictures, I'm -- I am in a bit of a different 5 class. Yes, things are getting a little bit blurred, but 6 I do have a history of years of -- as a citizen reporter, 7 not as a blogger, per se, and I would ask that there be 8 this discretion granted to people, and I do share it with 9 Ursula, and she has been, as far as I know, making a 10 meaningful contribution to this committee. 11 COMMISSIONER DOUGLAS CUNNINGHAM: And 12 that would involve, I take it, taping the proceeding, is 13 that right? 14 MR. DON BARBER: Taping. I have a little 15 video taper. This thing here can make images like -- 16 have you seen what was on YouTube? 17 COMMISSIONER DOUGLAS CUNNINGHAM: No. 18 No. 19 MR. DON BARBER: Okay. She actually did 20 the edited -- editing on that, and there's two (2) items 21 up there. And so -- 22 COMMISSIONER DOUGLAS CUNNINGHAM: Well -- 23 MR. DON BARBER: I have a camera over 24 there just to make the occasional still picture. 25 COMMISSIONER DOUGLAS CUNNINGHAM: Yes.
11 1 All right. Well -- 2 MR. DON BARBER: Non-flash. 3 COMMISSIONER DOUGLAS CUNNINGHAM: Pardon 4 me? 5 MR. DON BARBER: Non-flash. 6 COMMISSIONER DOUGLAS CUNNINGHAM: Non- 7 flash, all right. Well, thank you, Mr. Barber. Have a 8 seat. 9 As the Inquiry Commissioner, it is clearly 10 within my power to set out the terms of media coverage so 11 that witnesses, counsel, the media, and, of course, the 12 public are -- fully understand the expectations. 13 Before we begin the evidentiary stage of 14 this Inquiry, I intend to formulate some terms of 15 reference, with respect to media coverage, which will be 16 posted on the commission website. 17 It has been traditionally the practice 18 only to permit accredited media representatives to record 19 the proceedings, subject, of course, to the terms that I 20 will be setting out, and, usually, no other forms or 21 means of recording, or re-broadcasting, or photography, 22 are permitted beyond those set out in the terms that I 23 expect I will be establishing very soon. 24 I'm going to take your submissions under 25 advisement, Mr. Barber. It is Barber, is it?
12 1 MR. DON BARBER: Yes. 2 COMMISSIONER DOUGLAS CUNNINGHAM: Mr. 3 Barber. And when I'm formulating the terms of reference 4 for the evidentiary portion of the Inquiry, I will take 5 into account the submissions you have made, but I think 6 for the purposes of today I'm going to permit you to do 7 as you did the last time. That doesn't guarantee you 8 that that will continue, but I will certainly consider 9 what you have said today when I formulate the terms with 10 respect to media coverage. 11 MR. DON BARBER: Thank you very much, 12 Sir.
I too intend on making a submission to Commissioner Cunningham regarding the need to allow citizen-bloggers to videotape the proceedings. Signed, The (Bottomline, Traditional Media is failing us!) Mississauga Muse