Armed with a search warrant, two investigators from the Regional Investigation Office of the SQ went to the premises of the Vanier daily paper on Wednesday afternoon. “Our investigators wanted to obtain documents and to meet with the management of the newspaper, as well as the journalist who wrote the article in question,” explained Officer Richard Gagné, spokesperson for the SQ in Quebec. Officer Gagné stated that the police had received a complaint at the beginning of the week about an article published in Le Journal de Québec on Friday, July 6. It reported that Judge Carol St-Cyr had sentenced Pier-Olivier Boulet, age 22, to 15 months of community service after the soldier from the Valcartier Base had been found guilty of the sexual assault of an 18-year-old woman.
Identified victim, anonymous journalist
The victim saw her name published outright in this article, in spite of a non-publication ban ordered by the court to ensure that the media would not reveal it. In all causes of sexual assault, the Crown routinely obtains such a ban from the court by virtue of Article 486.4 of the Criminal Code, whether or not the victim is a minor. In contrast, the author of the litigious article was not identified. The text was simply signed “Canoe and PC”. News items (with the exception of columns) published in the Journal have not been signed by journalists since the lockout began at the Quebecor daily. The news item was also posted on the Canoe portal on Thursday, July 5 in the evening. The Website managers, however, removed it on Friday morning, after receiving a phone call from the Crown Attorney office in Quebec oredering them to correct the blunder. “The investigators also intend to look into that as well,” stated Officer Gagné. From what we could learn, the victim was very upset when she learned that her identity had been revealed to the general public. She immediately lodged a complaint with the Crown, having been recognized not only in her workplace, but also by some family members who were unaware that she had been involved in any judicial proceedings. When its report is completed, the Sûreté du Québec will deliver it to the Crown sometime in the next few weeks, and a prosecutor will determine whether or not to charge the journalist with contravening a court order. “This type of investigation is somewhat unusual, but it (disregarding a non-publication ban) has been done before, and not always by the media,” according to Officer Gagné.
Union members are concerned
“One day, we’ll go back to work at the Journal de Québec, but its credibility may have already been compromised.” Daniel Paquet, spokesperson for the three unions affected by the labour dispute at the Journal de Québec (journalists and office staff in lockout, and printing staff on strike), says he is worried about the effect of this affair on the credibility of the paper. “The information staff and professionals at the Journal are no longer there, and we’ve seen the mistakes piling up in recent weeks. They mistakenly announced the death of the former Canadiens hockey player John Ferguson, they wrote that Lac Saint-Joseph was infested with blue algae, and they switched names and photos in the death notices. This time, the error seems even more serious, involving an SQ investigation. It’s disturbing.” Under these circumstances, Daniel Paquet believes that ”the sooner we return to the negotiating table with the employer and reach an agreement, the better.”