Chief Justice Robert Bauman has turned down CBC’s request to put cameras in the courtroom for the reference case to determine the constitutionality of Canada’s anti-polygamy law.
Before opening statements from the Crown began Monday in Vancouver, the court heard an application by CBC lawyer Daniel Henry calling for the right to broadcast the proceedings on the internet, radio and TV. Henry argued that the case is a matter of immense national importance and televising it would allow the public to better participate in the process. But Justice Robert Bauman turned down the request. He noted that the question of cameras in the court room is a complicated one that could not be settled in a short hearing at the start of a lengthy case.
According to a report in the Winnipeg Free Press, Justice Bauman ruled that “This application raises the fundamental issues touching on the extent of the public’s right to a truly open court. That is the public’s ability to access without attending,” Bauman said. “They should be debated in a calm and orderly fashion. … This application does not permit a calm and deliberate review of these issues. It is brought on the eve of this proceeding.”
There is no question that this is a question of national importance, and that televising would allow better public participation. But, cameras in the court room are still a touchy topic, and there is a decision pending from the Supreme Court of Canada. And, the CBC brought it at the last minute. Alas, Justice Bauman was probably right….but it sure would have been nice to have the hearing televised.