Inquiry into journalists’ sources to hear from Quebec police chiefs

Quebec inquiry hearing from police chiefs

MONTREAL — Quebec provincial police had no protocols in place with regard to investigations involving reporters before the controversial practice of spying on them became publicized, a high-ranking officer told an inquiry Monday.

Senior provincial police officers were up first as the inquiry studying protection for journalists’ sources began its second week of hearings.

Provincial police director Martin Prud’homme testified that police exercise great care when they have to share information with the Public Security Department.

But top provincial police brass said there were no rules in place before Public Security Minister Martin Coiteux asked for the procedures to be tightened last fall.

That demand came in the wake of reports that investigators had sought and received call logs from reporters’ smartphones in attempts to determine who they were speaking with.

An internal memo from Prud’homme circulated around the force on Nov. 1, three days before tougher rules were established.

Andre Goulet, a chief inspector and director of criminal investigations at the force, testified Monday the note from Prud’homme prohibited “any investigation, surveillance or verification concerning a journalist unless authorized by a member of the brass in advance.”

The directives also specifically stated that any request for judicial authorization for a surveillance warrant regarding a member of the press must go through the province’s Crown attorney’s office to be analyzed before being presented to a justice of the peace.

Those same protocols applied to surveillance requests involving lawyers, judges or politicians.

That provincial police had no procedure in place may seem surprising, given the Supreme Court of Canada had already ruled on the importance of the confidentiality of journalistic sources.

The inquiry, known as the Chamberland Commission, was created after it was revealed that several police departments had spied on journalists’ phone records in an attempt to identify sources speaking to reporters.

Prud’homme also told the inquiry about a previously unpublicized incident in 2012 when another journalist had been subjected to surveillance.

He told the inquiry he only found out before Christmas about the Journal de Quebec reporter, but didn’t specify why surveillance had been ordered.

Prud’homme will give way to Montreal police Chief Philippe Pichet and senior city police officials on Tuesday.

The inquiry, presided by Quebec Court of Appeal Justice Jacques Chamberland, will hear testimony from actors on all sides including law enforcement, media and the courts before reporting back to the government with recommendations by March 1, 2018. 

It has already heard that word of warrants to collect data from the smartphones of several prominent journalists created a chilling effect on newsrooms and sent sources into a panic.

Also during its first week of hearings, the commission heard two senior sitting judges defend the work done by justices of the peace who sign off on warrants.

The inquiry has heard that police frequently solicit telecommunications companies for certain data of its mobile users, with the requests sometimes being quite extensive.

Representatives from phone companies testified the type of information typically given is the source of incoming and outgoing calls, the times of such calls and the duration.

Lia Levesque, The Canadian Press

Just Posted

Slide on Momma Bear run causes Polar Peak to close

One individual trapped in slide, rescued by CARDA

Fernie Skating Club performs annual show

On Saturday, February 18, the Fernie Skating Club braved the cold, and… Continue reading

Outstanding support for Blankman family

“There’s no shortage of support in this town if you need it,” said Maggie.

Ghostriders accelerating towards playoffs

Fernie’s first playoff game of the season is this Sunday, February 25 in Sparwood.

City of Cranbrook culls 50 urban deer

In an effort to reduce incidents of deer aggression across the community,… Continue reading

President praises nearly 1,800 volunteers at B.C. Games

Ashley Wadhwani sits down with the Kamloops 2018 B.C. Winter Games President Niki Remesz

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

The way government learn someone has died is getting a digital overhaul

Governments in Canada turned to private consultants 2 years ago to offer blueprint

Bobsleigh team misses Olympic medal finish

Canadian team finishes four-man event 0.84 seconds behind first place, 0.31 seconds from podium

B.C. Games: Athletes talk Team Canada at PyeongChang 2018

From Andi Naudie to Evan McEachran there’s an Olympian for every athlete to look up to

Snowboarders sliding into fresh territory at B.C. Games

Athletes hit the slopes for first appearance as an event at the B.C. Winter Games in Kamloops

Looking back at the 1979 B.C. Games: Good memories, even better jackets

39 years later, Kamloops is hosting the Winter Games again, with some volunteers returning

OLYMPICS 101: Oldest and youngest Canadians to reach the podium

This year, Canada sent its most athletes in Winter Games history, here’s a look at record breakers

Fly Fishing Film Fest coming to Fernie, March 1st

On March 1, the doors will open at The Vogue Theatre to… Continue reading

Most Read