Subpoena/legal order

B.C. Court of Appeal upholds order for journalist’s emails and interview tape

The B.C. Supreme Court ordered Glacier Media journalist Alanna Kelly to turn over unpublished video of an interview with a complainant in a sexual assault case, as well as Kelly’s emails and text messages with the complainant and her lawyer. 

Kelly interviewed an anonymous woman who had accused Vancouver Canucks player Jake Virtanen of sexual assault. The story was published by Vancouver Is Awesome in May 2021. 

Virtanen was later found not guilty.

After Virtanen was charged with sexual assault in January 2022, his counsel asked the court to require Glacier Media to turn over the video and communications. 

The 2017 Journalistic Sources Protection Act requires judges considering requests that would compromise source confidentiality to balance the public interest in the administration of justice against the importance of press freedom. 

B.C. Supreme Court justice Catherine Wedge found that access to Kelly’s interview and messages were important to Virtanen’s right to a fair trial, and that ordering Kelly to provide them would have a “minimal” effect on press freedom, Glacier Media publication BIV reported.

The B.C. Court of Appeal upheld Wedge’s decision on June 21, 2022. Glacier Media has asked to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court of Canada.

Because of a publication ban, journalists were unable to report on the order to turn over the video and messages until Virtanen’s verdict was delivered.