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Regulating Professionals On Social Media – Media, Telecoms, IT, Entertainment – Canada – Mondaq News Alerts

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To what extend do professionals have the right to express their
personal views outside of their professional lives?

In the recent decision of Strom v Saskatchewan Registered
Nurses’ Association, 2020 SKCA 112
, the Saskatchewan
Court of Appeal provided further clarity regarding the degree of
analysis expected of professional regulators in assessing whether a
member’s off-duty comments amounts to professional
misconduct.

Background

Carolyn Strom, a registered nurse was licensed by the
Saskatchewan Registered Nurses’ Association
(“SRNA”). While on maternity leave, and following the
death of her grandfather, Ms. Strom posted critical comments on
Facebook about the level of care received by her grandfather in his
final days at a long-term care home and long-term care in general.
Ms. Strom also posted a link to an article about end-of-life care
and tweeted the posts to the Saskatchewan Minister of Health and
the Saskatchewan Opposition Leader.

Ms. Strom was found guilty of professional misconduct by the
SRNA Discipline Committee for the public Facebook posts. The
Discipline Committee focused on the fact that she did not go
through proper channels to voice her concerns. As she identified
herself as a registered nurse in the Facebook posts, the Discipline
Committee found that Ms. Strom’s posts harmed the nursing
profession’s reputation. The Discipline Committee found that
although its decision infringed on Ms. Strom’s freedom of
expression, the infringement was justified as the Discipline
Committee needed to ensure that nurses advocate in a professional
manner. The Saskatchewan Court of Queen’s Bench subsequently
affirmed the Discipline Committee’s decision.

Saskatchewan Court of Appeal Decision

On appeal, the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal overturned both the
lower court’s and the Discipline Committee’s decisions.
They held that in order to determine whether off-duty comments
amount to professional misconduct, a regulator must look at the
entire context behind the comments. The Saskatchewan Court of
Appeal found that the Discipline Committee failed to do this
thereby missing key factors including: Ms. Strom was grieving the
loss of her grandfather; that she also made comments praising
certain staff members; and that her posts were intended to raise
awareness on improving palliative care in Canada in general. The
tone, content and purpose of the post were all important factors to
consider when determining whether Ms. Strom’s off-duty
conduct would be considered professional misconduct.

The Saskatchewan Court of Appeal also found that
the Discipline Committee’s failure to perform a
contextual analysis resulted in a decision that unjustifiably
infringed on Ms. Strom’s right to freedom of expression. In
making these findings, the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal recognized
that professionals have the right to voice their opinions. The
Discipline Committee’s decision unjustifiably denied Ms.
Strom and other registered nurses their ability to offer
constructive criticism and contribute to discussions on important
public health issues.

The Saskatchewan Court of Appeal noted that professionals remain
bound by their profession’s rules and requirements with
respect to civility, respectful communication, confidentiality,
advertisement and other matters that impact freedom of expression.
However, the enforcement of these limits must be proportional to
the alleged offensive speech. Not every statement that causes
offence should attract discipline. In this case, Ms. Strom’s
posts were made as a grieving granddaughter. They were not shown to
be false or exaggerated. There was no evidence that the public
interest or the reputation of facility, staff and nursing
profession were negatively impacted. In these circumstances, the
Discipline Committee’s decision to discipline Ms. Strom for
her off-duty speech did not justify infringing on
her Charter  right to freedom of expression.

Key Takeaway

The Saskatchewan Court of Appeal’s decision highlights the
importance for regulators to examine the entire context when
dealing with off-duty conduct. A contextual analysis must focus on
whether there is a nexus between the off-duty conduct and the
profession, such that there would be a negative impact on the
public, the professional or the profession.

When an individual makes a statement, the tone, content, and
purpose of the statement are important contextual factors that a
regulator should consider when assessing whether the conduct
amounts to professional misconduct. It is important that the
regulator not cherry pick elements of an individual’s conduct
to make a finding of professional misconduct.

The Saskatchewan Court of Appeal’s decision also serves as
a reminder that professionals have voices and roles outside of
their professional lives and that they have the right to express
their views. Public discourse is important and professionals can
offer unique and informed contributions to these discussions.
Limits can be imposed if they are necessary to protect the public
or profession as a whole. However, speech should not be limited
simply because it may offend others. A full contextual analysis of
the situation is required to properly balance the need to impose
these limits and the right of members to freedom of expression.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.

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Conversations That Matter: The state of the media – Vancouver Sun

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Jack Webster was known as the king of the airways in B.C> for close to 40 years. Since his retirement the foundation in his name has been recognizing and celebrating excellence in journalism.

This year, on Dec. 8, the awards dinner is being netcast, opening it up, for the first time, to the public. 

If it was on the public agenda, Webster was there. When prisoners at the B.C. Penitentiary rioted and took hostages in 1963, they asked Webster to resolve the standoff. They asked for him because he was trusted at a time when mainstream media was believed to be fulfilling the responsibilities for the fourth estate – to step in, stand up, advocate, call out, and record the people and events of our lives.

Since Webster’s retirement in 1988, the media landscape has changed dramatically. In Vancouver, for example, the major powerhouses in print, radio and TV have all seen their constituencies dwindle. Shrinking audiences meant less ad revenue, which, in turn, led to cuts in newsrooms and that leads to further reductions in audiences.

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Kyrie Irving Imposes ‘Media Blackout,’ Won’t Speak To Reporters This Season – Forbes

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Kyrie Irving was tentatively scheduled to do a Zoom interview with reporters on Friday, just as Kevin Durant and his other Nets teammates have been doing in recent days.

Now it appears Irving won’t speak to the media at all this season. ESPN’s Brian Windhorst reported on “The Jump” that Irving will conduct a “media blackout” this season, and Irving issued this statement.

Irving, the former St. Patrick (N.J.) High School and Duke star, has had some missteps with the media in the past.

In 2017, when he was with the Cleveland Cavaliers, he claimed that the Earth was flat.

It became a major story and even NBA Commissioner Adam Silver — who, like Irving, went to Duke — was asked to offer his opinion.

“Kyrie and I went to the same college,” Silver said then. “He may have taken some different courses.”

Irving later ended up apologizing for his comments.

“To all the science teachers, everybody coming up to me like, `You know I’ve got to reteach my whole curriculum?’ I’m sorry,” Irving said. “I apologize. I apologize.”

In October, Irving made some controversial comments about new Nets coach Steve Nash.

“I don’t really see us having a head coach,” Irving said on the podcast, “The ETCs With Kevin Durant.” Referring to Durant, he said, “K.D. could be a head coach. I could be a head coach.”

Speaking this week on a Zoom with reporters, Nash tried to diffuse the situation.

“I read what he said, and I think it was one phrase at the end of a bunch of things he said about being excited — about having me in this position and coaching — and then maybe taken to another level that seemed incredible in headlines, which is fine,” Nash said. “I’m in a fortunate position where I get to coach Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. What we’ve dealt here in a short period of time with how we’re going to prep and play is exciting. I’m thrilled to get to coach those guys.

“One statement that I don’t think necessarily was completely — wasn’t meant the way it was taken by the press, that doesn’t bother me at all.”

Without using the words “load management,” Nash also said he would be surprised if Durant or Irving played all 72 games this season. Durant is coming off Achilles surgery, and Irving off shoulder surgery.

Through it all, Irving has continued to financially support his alma mater, now called The Patrick School. In 2018, he funded the renovation of the gym, locker room, weight room and lounge at the school.

He has also mentored younger players, like Seton Hall guard Bryce Aiken and Jonathan Kuminga, the former Patrick School star now with the G League Ignite team, and pledged $1.5 million to WNBA players forgoing last season due to coronavirus or social justice concerns.

Irving, Durant and the Nets open the preseason Dec. 13 against the Wizards and the regular season Dec. 22 at home against the Warriors.

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Kyrie skips media availability, releases statement – theScore

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As the NBA prepares for its 2020-21 season to begin on Dec. 22, the enigmatic Kyrie Irving did not provide access to reporters on Friday as part of the Brooklyn Nets‘ media week.

Instead, the 28-year-old guard released a written statement “to ensure that (his) message is conveyed properly,” per ESPN’s Malika Andrews.

Here’s Irving’s statement in full:

COVID-19 has impacted us all in many ways, so I pray for the safety and health of our communities domestically and abroad. I am truly excited for the season to start and I am also praying that everyone remains safe and healthy throughout this journey.

Instead of speaking to the media today, I am issuing this statement to ensure that my message is conveyed properly.

I am committed to show up to work everyday, ready to have fun, compete, perform, and win championships alongside my teammates and colleagues in the Nets organization. My goal this season is to let my work on and off the court speak for itself.

Life hit differently this year and it requires us, it requires me, to move differently. So, this is the beginning of that change.

The league’s collective bargaining agreement requires veteran players to “participate in photograph and media sessions” as early as the 22nd day prior to the first game of the regular season.

Additionally, under a section pertaining to promotional activities, the CBA states: “Upon request, the player shall consent to and make himself available for interviews by representatives of the media conducted at reasonable times.”

It’s unclear whether Irving’s statement constitutes participation in the Nets’ training camp media session or whether certain allowances have been made in regard to media availability within the amended agreement due to COVID-19.

In an injury-shortened debut season with the Nets in 2019-20, Irving averaged 27.4 points, 6.4 assists, 5.2 rebounds, and 1.4 steals per game across 20 appearances.

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