Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Union Loses Bid to Suppress Wiretap Evidence at Quebec Corruption Inquiry

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Union Loses Bid to Suppress Wiretap Evidence at Quebec Corruption Inquiry

Article excerpt

Quebec union loses bid to suppress wiretap

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MONTREAL - A major Quebec labour union has lost a bid to prevent the provincial corruption inquiry from hearing wiretap conversations involving its senior leadership.

The FTQ union as well as some of its high-ranking officials had filed the request to stop the inquiry from hearing the taped conversations, which were recorded as part of a police investigation into organized crime. The taped conversations did not result in criminal charges being laid.

In a decision Monday, corruption inquiry head France Charbonneau remarked that the telephone conversations could prove useful in helping witnesses who can't remember details on the stand.

The ruling said the inquiry is committed to using only parts of the conversations related to professional functions and won't extend to discussions involving private lives.

While inquiry participants have the right to privacy, it's not an absolute right and the definition of "privacy" depends greatly on the context of the information, the ruling said.

"We must find a balance between private interests, the right to respect for privacy and the public interest is the search for truth and public information related to the mandate of the inquiry," the commission wrote.

A lawyer for the Fonds de solidarite FTQ, the big union venture-capital fund, had argued the inquiry had no right to play those wiretaps.

Jean-Claude Hebert said Monday that he would consult with his clients before deciding how to proceed.

The motion was on behalf of two people including Michel Arsenault, who's not only the union president but also the president of the board of the investment fund.

They said the recordings were of private conversations and, while making their argument, cited the U.S. Edward Snowden case while discussing privacy concerns.

The recordings were made during the provincial police's Operation Diligence -- which was examining organized crime's infiltration into the legitimate economy, with a special focus on the masonry industry. …

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