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CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. - Day 3 of a trial for two siblings facing charges under the Immigration and Refugee Act started Friday with a judge granting the media access to exhibits in the case, with a few exceptions.
David Coles, a lawyer representing the CBC, made arguments for access before Chief Judge Nancy Orr in provincial court in Charlottetown in the trial for Sherwood Motel owners Ping Zhong and Yi Zhong.
Yi Zhong is charged with four counts of counselling, aiding and abetting misrepresentation under the Immigration and Refugee Act.
Ping Zhong is facing two counts, and the siblings are charged jointly with one count of the same offence.
As Orr gave the reasons for her decision to give the media access to exhibits, she said not everyone has the benefit of sitting through court proceedings and they rely on the media for information.
If people don’t know what evidence is presented in a case, it’s hard for them to understand the basis for a decision at the end of a trial, Orr said.
The trial involves hundreds of pages of documents collected as part of a Canada Border Services Agency investigation, including records related to permanent residency and provincial nominee program (PNP) applications.
Coles argued the courts are presumed to be open, and exhibits are presumed to be accessible.
Orr said there is an open-court principle, but there are times when matters are subject to publication bans.
She told Coles she would not be giving access to some evidence, such as social insurance numbers, and later said the court has a right to govern its own processes.
Orr said materials that are relevant to the case should be provided to anyone who wants them, with some restrictions.
The restrictions include unique government-generated numbers such as social insurance numbers, financial information and details about family members who accompanied applicants.
Documents will be redacted by the court and provided to the media at a later date.
In making her decision, Orr said the guiding principles she considered were the open court concept, the relevance of information to the case and the privacy interests of the people who were not aware of the request.
The trial continued Friday with the defence cross-examining the Canada Border Services Agency investigator on the case.
It resumes Dec. 14.