canadian court: blogging is an occupation, may also be “reporters”

A Canadian court case [R. v. LeBlanc, 2006 NBPC 37 (CanLII)] appears to have created two important legal precedents: that blogging can be an occupation and that bloggers are reporters (and have the same responsibility to follow the law as do professional journalists):

“Mr. LeBlanc was never advised by the police that he would be arrested if he did certain things – He was simply plying his trade, photographing a demonstration for inclusion in his blog when he was arrested…He was simply plying his trade……gathering photographs and information for his blog along side other reporters.”

Judge William J. McCarroll, presiding over the case in the Provincial Court of New Brunswick at St. John, explains further in his judgement that these are important distinctions:

“It may well be asked if Mr. LeBlanc’s chosen occupation as a blogger had any bearing on my decision in this case. The answer to that is yes and no. The fact that the defendant was a blogger explained why he was at the Trade and Convention Center taking pictures, while a riot was going on. It could also explain why he was on a first name basis with some of the delegates. It would explain why he was so upset at being arrested, as he obviously considered himself to be a legitimate member of the media who had done nothing wrong.”

“Assuming for the purposes of my decision that Mr. LeBlanc was a legitimate member of the media, did this grant him any special exemption from following the directions of the police? The answer to that is clearly no. Provided the police are acting in the execution of their duties and not exceeding their common law powers, Mr. LeBlanc and any other member of a so called mainstream news organization would be obligated to follow the instructions of a police officer, again provided the officer was acting within the scope of his authority. Members of the media are no different from any other citizen in this regard. A legitimate order from a police officer must be followed by every citizen. If I were satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that Sergeant Parks was acting within his authority and had not exceeded his common law powers when, and if, he ordered the defendant to leave the Trade and Convention Center, the result in this case would have been different.”

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One Comment

  1. Assuming that the judges assumptions accurately reflect the facts, then this is a no-brainer. It doesn’t matter what the occupation, sex, religion, creed, social standing, political affiliations, or any other variable in an individual’s personality or life choices. If the police give reasonable erections under the authority that has been delegated to them, then that person should obey.

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