Police investigators should be better trained, there should be more rules to protect the police from political interference and all journalistic material, including journalistic sources, should be better protected.
Those are the main conclusions of the 550-page report from the Chamberland Commission on journalistic sources.
The commission made more than twenty recommendations, including two major ones.
In its first major recommendation, the commission calls on the Quebec government to adopt legislation to protect journalistic sources.
This would be similar to Bill S-231, the Journalistic Source Protection Act, which was presented by Senator Claude Carignan in the House of Commons and the Senate; it was adopted last October.
“We feel the commissioners, Judge Chamberland, fully understood the implications of the cost to a democracy when police services are allowed to abuse their power to spy on journalists,” said Stephane Giroux, president of the Quebec Federation of Journalists.
The second major recommendation calls for clear guidelines concerning how police officers interact with elected officials.
‘I think it’s a good idea to preserve independence in the face of transparency.”
The Commission also recommended the independence of police forces in criminal investigations and related operations.
WATCH BELOW: Quebec spying scandal
The commission believes police independence will give chiefs across the province the moral authority to refuse to answer questions from elected officials when they involve investigations or police operations.
The Quebec government launched the Chamberland Commission in November 2016 after it was revealed that more than one police force had been spying on several Quebec journalists in an attempt to identify journalistic sources.
Police had warrants, which authorized them to obtain the reporters’ telephone records — in some cases, several years worth of documentation.