Quebec Press Council roundup: Police, Palestinians and the poor

The Quebec Press Council rejects most of the complaints it gets, judging them to be unfounded (usually because the complainants – which include no-hope politicians and conspiracy theorists – have no case and just want to punish a journalist whose facts or opinions they don’t like). You can read those cases on the QPC’s website or see summaries in their press release.

I will highlight one rejected complaint though:

  • Paul Chablo (SPVM) v. Radio-Canada: Chablo, who acts as a media representative for the Montreal police, complained that an Enquête report on Fredy Villanueva was unfair to the officers involved, used young photos of Villanueva to mislead viewers into thinking he was younger than he actually was when he was killed, and showed the faces and names of the two officers involved as if they were criminals. The Council rejected all of these complaints. ProjetJ also looks at this.

Among the complaints they upheld:

  • Dimitri Roussopoulos v. La Presse: Roussopoulos wrote a letter to La Presse to refute another letter that had factual errors concerning the Plateau’s participatory budget process. His letter was not published, and after months of delays (and pestering), he was eventually told it would never be published. The Council agreed that since there were factual errors in the letter that were not corrected, Roussopoulos had a right of reply that was denied to him.
  • Matthew Trowell v. The Suburban: Trowell complained about The Suburban’s biased views on anti-Israeli protesters, specifically a cover article from editor Beryl Wajsman which called them “purveyors of hate” after they took to the streets to denounce Israeli military action in Gaza. It also complained about articles in the next week’s issue from Wajsman, Joel Goldenberg and P.A. Sevigny that painted all Palestinians as child-killers and Jew-haters. The Council, taking pains to note that it isn’t taking a stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, upheld a complaint against Wajsman and Sevigny for having exaggerated in their pieces, pretending that the protest was made up mostly or exclusively of Hamas supporters. But it ruled that the Suburban did not incite violence, that quoting a rabbi who was in turn quoting inflamatory things at a public gathering was not inappropriate, and that an editorial cartoon in the paper did not cross the line.
  • Front commun des personnes assistées sociales du Québec v. Sylvain Bouchard and CJMF: Bouchard said on his radio show that people living on social assistance in Quebec were “quêteux” that get free food and lodging from the government (this, during a discussion about whether such people should be denied the right to vote). The Council ruled that Bouchard was disrespectful, prejudicial and discriminatory toward those on social assistance with his comments. This item got a brief in Le Devoir.

The Council has also rejected an appeal from The Gazette concerning a ruling it had made about the paper’s coverage of the Bouchard-Taylor reasonable accommodation report. Though the Council rejected most of the complaints against The Gazette (whose reporter Jeff Heinrich broke the news of the report’s final draft), it upheld one that the paper was misleading about the importance of certain parts of the report’s findings.

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