Journalistic sources should be protected: Chamberland Commission

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Journalistic sources should be protected: Chamberland Commission
WATCH: The Chamberland Commission on journalistic sources makes more than twenty recommendations, including two major ones, in its 550 page report. Global's Amanda Jelowicki reports – Dec 14, 2017

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.

READ MORE: Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre testifies at inquiry into police spying on journalists

Those are the main conclusions of the 550-page report from the Chamberland Commission on journalistic sources.

READ MORE: La Presse says Montreal police placed journalist Patrick Lagacé’s phone under surveillance

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.

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READ MORE: Judge orders seal on Quebec columnist’s cellphone data collected by cops

Carignan’s private members’ bill came after it was revealed that La Presse journalist Patrick Lagacé was spied on by Montreal’s police force.

“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.

READ MORE: Commission starts public hearings into Quebec ‘spying’ scandal

The second major recommendation calls for clear guidelines concerning how police officers interact with elected officials.

“Let’s remember one thing — it’s [the recommendations] not based on any evidence of wrongdoing by elected official,” said Public Security Minister Martin Coiteux.

‘I think it’s a good idea to preserve independence in the face of transparency.”

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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.

READ MORE: Inquiry into journalists’ sources hearing from Quebec police chiefs

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.

READ MORE: Journalists call on feds to bring in legislation to protect press, sources

Police had warrants, which authorized them to obtain the reporters’ telephone records — in some cases, several years worth of documentation.

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READ MORE: Montreal police were issued warrant to listen to journalists’ calls: La Presse

The commissioner heard 74 witnesses, including former Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre and former Police Chief Philippe Pichet.

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