Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre testified under oath at the Chamberland commission Monday. The inquiry is looking into police spying on journalists.
Coderre was grilled multiple times on whether he ordered Montreal police (SPVM) to look into La Presse journalist Patrick Lagacé.
Last October, Lagacé said he learned his phone was wiretapped by police after he revealed he had obtained, through police sources, a traffic ticket Coderre had allegedly never paid.
Lagacé also hinted at a possible traffic of influences in an email to Coderre’s press attaché at the time, Catherine Maurice.
Before Coderre took the stand, Maurice testified.
She told the commission Coderre reacted to the news by saying: “It’s the third time ‘tab****c'”, meaning it’s the third time his personal information was leaked to the media.
It was then that Coderre picked up the phone and called then SPVM director, Marc Parent.
“I lost it at police sources, we are implying that there was a traffic of influence that’s why I called Mr. Parent,” Coderre told the commission’s lawyer, Francois Frondin.
“Is it normal that you called him?” Frondin asked.
“No, it’s not normal but I was shocked. It was simply a reaction.”
Coderre explained he didn’t know his call to Parent would trigger police to look into Lagacé.
He also denied asking police to look into the journalist.
“I simply told him I wasn’t happy and hung up. I said ‘is this legal? Is it legal?’ That’s all. The call didn’t last long, two to three minutes.”
“He said ‘no, it’s not normal.’ I was exasperated and I let my emotions go. I was infuriated and said I wasn’t happy, that’s all,” Coderre continued.
Coderre hinted the leak could have been due to his problems with the police brotherhood.
They’ve been contesting legislation that rolls back pension plans for municipal employees for years now.
Coderre was also questioned about his “proximity” to the police and if roles should be better defined.
Coderre explained he must maintain contact with the police to ensure citizens’ safety but he would never mess with their internal operations and how they take on their investigations.
The commission’s hearings will resume Thursday, June 8.
With files from the Canadian Press.