The surreptitious monitoring by police of the mobile phone of La Presse columnist Patrick Lagacé is a severe violation of press freedom in Canada, a coalition of Canadian journalism unions and industry groups says.
“A free press relies on journalists being able to meet and speak freely with sources on the issues of the day,” said Carmel Smyth, President of the Canadian Media Guild. “By targeting some journalists’ phones to identify those sources, police are putting a chill on people talking to reporters.”
For several months earlier this year, Montreal police monitored Lagacé’s iPhone to determine his whereabouts and who he was talking to and texting with. The information could be used to determine Lagacé’s sources on stories he wrote critical of police, and to attempt to intimidate journalists as well as their sources.
“This is an unjustifiable intrusion on Lagacé’s privacy, amounting to state-sanctioned spying on a journalist based on the mere possibility of wrong doing by the reporter’s sources,” said Howard Law, Unifor Director, Media Sector. “A free press is essential to a functioning democracy. For police to target journalists and their sources in this way not only makes it difficult for reporters to do their essential work, but damages our democracy.”
“We are calling on the SPVM and all police forces to stop this dangerous practice. We are also asking governments across Canada to speak up publicly against this alarming development in our democracy and to adapt their policies and laws to better protect sources and the freedom of the press,” said Pascale St-Onge, President of the Fédération nationale des communications (FNC-CSN).
Contact: Jeanne d’Arc Umurungi, Communications Director, Canadian Media Guild (firstname.lastname@example.org, 416-708-4628) Howard Law, Director Unifor Media Sector (Howard.Law@Unifor.org, 416-456-1875) Jonathan Aspireault-Massé, Communications Services for CSN (Jonathan.email@example.com, 514-378-1753)
The Canadian Media Guild is the country’s media-only union. We represent 6,000 media workers across Canada and defend quality journalism.
Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector, representing more than 310,000 workers, including 12,000 journalists and media workers.
The Fédération nationale des communications (FNC-CSN) represents over 6000 workers in the cultural and media industries in Quebec, Ontario and New-Brunswick.
Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE)works to defend and protect the right to free expression in Canada and around the world.
CWA Canada advances the economic interests of its members, improves their standard of living, and strives to guarantee equal job opportunities and human rights.
The Canadian Association of Journalists (CAJ)is committed to protecting the public’s right to know and dedicated to promoting excellence in journalism.