Dalhousie Law Journal


Malcolm Merry


"Comment, facts, journalists, obligations, law of libel, legal reverberations


"Comment is free, but facts are sacred" is both a good working tale for journalists and a fairly accurate encapsulation of their obligations under the law of libel. The difficulty of course lies in sorting out fact from comment. It was this difficulty that faced the Nova Scotia courts in Barltrop v. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, 1 and the appeal judges came up with a different answer from the trial judge. The case was one of the legal reverberations of the controversy about lead poisoning in Toronto during 1974. The C.B.C.'s programme "As It Happens" broadcast a special feature on the dispute, though lawyers for the two smelting companies obtained an interim injunction that forced the producers to make substantial deletions from the programme before it was broadcast in central and western Canada.

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