pseudonym (Mr. Magnotta went by “Jimmy”).
The pseudonyms are used when the interviews
are transcribed, any other identifying information is removed, and the participants provide a
final verification of the data.
Justice Bourque said, moreover, that the university’s research ethics board and the Social Science and Humanities Research Council require
researchers to have such protocols in place for
protecting confidentiality before a project meets
approval and gets funded – all in accordance with
the Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for
Research Involving Humans, the policy guiding all
research ethics boards at Canadian postsecondary institutions.
Dr. Bruckert said she is pleased with the ulti-
mate result – she found out in February that the
decision would not be appealed – and that she
feels largely supported by her colleagues, CAUT
In her decision, Justice Bourque also notes
that the content of the interview (which she had
read) would be of little value to police or Crown,
had no bearing on determining Mr. Magnotta’s
state of mind, and the breach of confidentiality
in this case could greatly harm the “free flow of
accurate and pertinent information” between
researchers and a marginalized community such
as sex workers. Furthermore, she found that the
interview had hinged on the promise of confi-
dentiality and that Dr. Bruckert and Dr. Parent
had gone to great lengths to ensure it.
As part of the researchers’ protocol, partici-
pants provide oral consent only and choose a
The Wigmore test is a legal tool for deter-
mining evidentiary privilege under common
law that is also applied when determining con-
fidentiality between journalists and anonymous
sources. Under this test, the onus is on the
researcher to satisfy four criteria: the commu-
nications between researcher and participant
must originate in confidence that they will not
be disclosed; confidentiality must be essential
to the relationship between researcher and par-
ticipant; the community must deem this rela-
tionship as one to be “sedulously” [that is, dili-
gently] fostered; and the damage to the
relationship must be greater than the benefit
gained through disclosure.
John Lowman and Ted Palys, professors with
SFU’s department of criminology, took great
interest in Mr. Ogden’s case and have since
become experts on research ethics and the legal
parameters of research with vulnerable populations. They also became a rare source of practical
information for Professors Bruckert and Parent.
Their initial advice to the Ottawa researchers
was to secure their data. “There are two ways
I AM NOT AFRAID TO HELP.
I AM NINE