Name: Homolka-Teale Trial Publicity

Date:  1985 - 1995

Location:  North America

SubjectPolitical/Economic/Social Opinion

MediumTelevision , Print Journalism , Radio

Artist: All Canadian Media

Confronting Bodies: Ontario Judicial System

Date of Action: 1993

Specific Location

Description of Artwork: "Provincial funding forms were amended to include a paragraph that said funding could be pulled from any particular project that the government deemed inappropriate." Galleries in Alberta whose presentations came under attack during this controversy did not experience a cut in funding. "It seems to me that because the arts community was so united and so angry and so public, the government did back off. It is always good to see that people actually do have some power in these processes." (Persimmon Blackbridge of Kiss and Tell in an interview with Kerry Kilmartin/Artichoke)

Description of Incident: Karla Homolka was sentenced to twelve years in prison for these crimes in July 1993. Her husband is now on trial for a number of crimes including multiple murder. The judge in the case, Justice Francis Kovacs, has imposed a gag order on the press against revealing any of the details of the case or discussing it in any way other than referential. He imposed this order to allow the accused a "fair trial." In November/December 1993, American journalists defied the gag order and some major sources broadcast the information including The Washington Post, Newsweek, and the television program, "A Current Affair." Canadians were able to cross the border to purchase copies of the publications, though roadblocks were set up at key border crossing sites to confiscate copies if the possessor had more than one. Many Canadians were able to receive satellite broadcasts of the television accounts of the case (80% of Canadians live within 200 miles of the US border). Users of the Internet were widely distributing these reports and other accounts of the case across Canada and around the world. Many Internet systems administrators at Canadian universities and institutions were denying access to areas of the Internet which discussed the case by taking the information off of their systems.

Results of Incident: The gag order will remain in effect for Canada until the close of the trial of Paul Teale. Several Canadian media sources have appealed the judge's order. As a result of the gag order, an inordinate amount of attention has been focused on the case and there are few Canadians who do not know the details of the case.

Source: Newsweek, Washington Post, Internet users

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