Montreal Police Face A Storm of Criticism Over Surveillance Of La Presse journalist Patrick Lagacé

Montreal La Presse reporter Patrick Lagacé
Montreal La Presse reporter Patrick Lagacé

Montreal La Presse reporter Patrick Lagacé was spied on by the Montreal police department in an effort by the police to find the source of leaks about an internal investigation of corruption within Montreal’s police force. For several months this year,

The police obtained 24 surveillance warrants signed by the same judge.   For several months this year,  the Montreal police department was surveilling
the iPhone of reporter Lagacé.

Criminals will always exist and less invasive methods work.

Montreal police strongly defended a highly controversial decision to spy on a La Presse columnist by tracking his cellphone calls and texts and monitoring his whereabouts as part of a necessary internal police investigation — while the journalist involved called what they did “indefensible.”

“Lives were not at stake, this was not a question of national security,” La Presse columnist Patrick Lagacé said in an interview Monday. “The leaks made them look bad, that’s why they decided to go after me in the way they did.”

Opposition politicians are also condemning Montreal police for spying on Lagacé, though Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre stood by police chief Philippe Pichet on Monday, noting that a mayor should not intervene in police operations, but did say he was troubled by the news.

For several months this year, police were monitoring Lagacé’s iPhone to determine the identity of his sources, La Presse reported. This was confirmed to Lagacé last Thursday by Montreal police.

At least 24 surveillance warrants were granted by courts in 2016, at the request of the Montreal police department’s special investigations section, which probes crime within the police force. The warrants allowed police to track the telephone numbers of incoming and outgoing calls on Lagacé’s phone, and to monitor the phone’s location, although Pichet denied at a hastily convened press conference Monday that the GPS on his phone was monitored. MontrealGazette