Quebec police have admitted to monitoring the phones of six journalists in the province in relation to an ongoing investigation.
In addition to La Presse columnist Patrick Lagacé, as was previously reported, journalists from Radio-Canada and Le Journal Montreal were also targeted.
This past week, it was discovered that the Quebec provincial police tracked La Presse journalist Patrick Lagacé’s phone because they believed their internal investigations were feeding him information.
The Toronto Star, however, recently learned that the Quebec provincial police department had been monitoring the phones of six journalists. Of these, three work for Radio Canada, one (Lagacé) works for La Presse and one works for Le Journal de Montreal.
Five of the six reporters have been identified. In addition to Lagacé, Radio-Canada‘s Alain Gravel, Marie-Maude Denis and Isabelle Richer — former and current hosts of Radio-Canada‘s investigative program Enquête — as well as Eric Thibault of the Journal de Montreal have been identified as having been monitored by Quebec provincial police.
Montreal police Chief Philippe Pichet told The Star that while the bureau is “hypersensitive” to journalistic freedom, the police force also has a job to do. The majority of the warrants which authorized the tracking were issued by Justice of the Peace Josée De Carufel.
Quebec police stated that conversations between journalists and sources weren’t listened to, suggesting that they were most likely looking for officers feeding information to reporters about internal affairs.
While police have vigorously defended their actions, several parties have expressed deep concern, claiming that the actions taken undermine the freedom of the Canadian press.
Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale concluded that the Supreme Court has laid out the test which determines whether a scenario justifies intervening with journalistic freedoms, though he said he’d be open to hearing recommendations to improve the statute from members of the media.
Related: Montreal police spent months tracking La Presse journalist’s iPhone