The article you just read was brought to you by a few thousand dedicated readers. Will you join them?

Thanks for coming by The Tyee and reading one of many original articles we’ll post today. Our team works hard to publish in-depth stories on topics that matter on a daily basis. Our motto is: No junk. Just good journalism.

Just as we care about the quality of our reporting, we care about making our stories accessible to all who want to read them and provide a pleasant reading experience. No intrusive ads to distract you. No paywall locking you out of an article you want to read. No clickbait to trick you into reading a sensational article.

There’s a reason why our site is unique and why we don’t have to rely on those tactics — our Tyee Builders program. Tyee Builders are readers who chip in a bit of money each month (or one-time) to our editorial budget. This amazing program allows us to pay our writers fairly, keep our focus on quality over quantity of articles, and provide a pleasant reading experience for those who visit our site.

In the past year, we’ve been able to double our staff team and boost our reporting. We invest all of the revenue we receive into producing more and better journalism. We want to keep growing, but we need your support to do it.

Fewer than 1 in 100 of our average monthly readers are signed up to Tyee Builders. If we reach 1% of our readers signing up to be Tyee Builders, we could continue to grow and do even more.

If you appreciate what The Tyee publishes and want to help us do more, please sign up to be a Tyee Builder today. You pick the amount, and you can cancel any time.

Support our growing independent newsroom and join Tyee Builders today.
Before you click away, we have something to ask you…

Do you value independent journalism that focuses on the issues that matter? Do you think Canada needs more in-depth, fact-based reporting? So do we. If you’d like to be part of the solution, we’d love it if you joined us in working on it.

The Tyee is an independent, paywall-free, reader-funded publication. While many other newsrooms are getting smaller or shutting down altogether, we’re bucking the trend and growing, while still keeping our articles free and open for everyone to read.

The reason why we’re able to grow and do more, and focus on quality reporting, is because our readers support us in doing that. Over 5,000 Tyee readers chip in to fund our newsroom on a monthly basis, and that supports our rockstar team of dedicated journalists.

Join a community of people who are helping to build a better journalism ecosystem. You pick the amount you’d like to contribute on a monthly basis, and you can cancel any time.

Help us make Canadian media better by joining Tyee Builders today.
We value: Our readers.
Our independence. Our region.
The power of real journalism.
We're reader supported.
Get our newsletter free.
Help pay for our reporting.

Five Questions for Media Rights Defender Taking C-51 to Court

Tom Henheffer and allies raised $25,000 to support their Charter challenge. So, what's next?

By Chantal Braganza 29 Jul 2015 | J-Source

Chantal Braganza is associate editor of J-Source.

On June 18, Bill C-51 received royal assent, making the widely criticized and controversial Anti-Terrorism Act a law. Last week, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and Canadian Journalists for Free Expression announced plans to launch a Charter challenge against specific sections of the bill, which both organizations filed with the Ontario Superior Court on July 21. A concurrently launched crowdfunding campaign to help pay for legal fees raised well over the organizations' goal of $25,000 within three days.

We spoke with CJFE executive director Tom Henheffer about the challenge's next steps. 

J-Source: When did the discussions to get this Charter challenge underway start?

Tom Henheffer: Basically since C-51 was proposed legislation, we've been fighting it. In the form of protests, our social media campaign, a petition and largely being an education resource through our website. That's a core of what we do in terms of advocacy, in terms of trying to educate the public. We did all of those things. 

When it became law, we tried to figure out the best way to continue fighting it. The CCLA actually approached us and asked us to join them on the Charter challenge.

Has the CJFE ever launched a challenge like this before?

This is our first Charter challenge -- certainly the first one since I joined -- but we have intervened in other cases before. We've gone to court against the Ontario Provincial Police to decide whether or not they can impersonate journalists at protests. We intervened at the Mike Duffy trial. We intervened in the Omar Khadr case, although I believe he was released on bail before that case concluded. And we're intervening currently on a case of media access to prisoners. It's about a specific prisoner, but has larger implications. 

The challenge addresses five components of the Anti-Terrorism Act, a couple of which you've noted have a direct impact on the working lives of journalists who report on national security.

The main one is the criminalization of the promotion of terrorism in general. It could make it illegal for journalists to quote a suspected terrorist or do anything that could be considered "distribution of terrorist propaganda."

And it's not just journalists. If you post something on Facebook about your thoughts on terrorism or, say, ISIS, and say this is frightening, or you're a journalist quoting something the Ottawa shooter said in a recording to explain to the public who this was and why he did what he did, it's right now punishable by five years in prison. And that's a problem: the who and why are the conversations we need to be having. This bill is so broadly written and there is so little accountability. 

What are the next steps?

Our crowdfunder on the launch of the Charter challenge was successful, so the next step is to wait for the trial date. That'll likely take months, possibly after the election. There is the potential that after the election we'll drop this lawsuit. If the next government that comes in drops C-51, we'll drop the suit, because there won't be any bill to fight -- that's the best-case scenario.

Otherwise, we go to court, make our argument, and the government makes its, and we'll wait for the ruling, and we'd expect that ruling to be in our favour. Should that be the case, I'd hope the government would be smart enough not to file an appeal.

What expenses will the crowdfunder's proceeds go towards?

It will go towards all legal and administrative costs. The $25,000 is for this first round. Lawyers have agreed to do this pro bono, but that generally only goes up to a point. This challenge -- it can end up costing hundreds of thousands of dollars, but that depends on how far it goes.

This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.  [Tyee]

Share this article

The Tyee is supported by readers like you

Join us and grow independent media in Canada

Facts matter. Get The Tyee's in-depth journalism delivered to your inbox for free


The Barometer

Tyee Poll: Are You Preparing for the Next Climate Disaster?

Take this week's poll