Radio-Canada reporters did not violate standards of practice on Charest-Brandone story: Ombudsman



Québec premier Jean Charest had some harsh comebacks for Radio-Canada a few weeks ago after the public broadcaster aired a story on the timing of surveillance being pulled off of former construction head Eddy Brandone. The Radio-Canada story, as reported by Marie-Maude Denis and Alain Gravel, pointed out that the police surveillance that had been on Brandone as part of an investigation into corruption in Québec’s construction industry had been pulled shortly after Brandone had a brief, unscheduled meeting with Charest during lunch at a public event.  

Charest responded, alleging Radio-Canada had made insinuations in the report that the Premier had somehow been involved in the police investigation.

"You know the insinuation. They're trying to build a link between the fact that I bumped into a guy that day and the fact that it seems — I say 'it seems,' because I don't know — that a tail was cancelled,” Charest told reporters after Radio-Canada’s report was published.

Charest is, of course, in the midst of a re-election campaign in the Québec provincial election.

“My conscience is clear. I’m not sure that the same can be said about Radio-Canada today,” The Globe and Mail reported Charest as saying at a news conference. Charest also criticized the public broadcaster for its timing of the report. “That news report should have never been made. In an election campaign, it is distracting us from the real issues.”

Radio-Canada ombudsman Pierre Tourangeau has reviewed the report based on a number of complainants and ruled that Denis and Gravel did not violate CBC/Radio-Canada’s Journalistic Standards and Practices.

However, the broadcaster’s hands aren’t entirely clean, based on the ombudsman’s report. His conclusion states that other elements of the coverage could have contributed to the story being interpreted in a different way than intended. In particular, the abstracts read prior to the broadcasts and headings used in reports. Tourangeau also said that the broadcaster needed to consider the best way to control perception during elections.

More background on the initial story can be found here, and Tourangeau’s report can be read in full here.