Surveillance of La Presse reporter a 'serious attack on freedom of the press in Canada'
Questions raised after columnist Patrick LagacÚ surveilled by Montreal police with 24 separate warrants
By Benjamin Shingler, CBC News Posted: Nov 01, 2016 6:00 AM ET Last Updated: Nov 01, 2016 10:16 AM ET
The case of a Montreal newspaper columnist whose smartphone was tracked by Montreal police is part of a troubling trend emerging in Quebec and across the country, freedom of expression advocates say.
La Presse reported Monday at least 24 surveillance warrants were issued for Patrick LagacÚ's iPhone this year at the request of the police special investigations unit. That section is responsible for looking into crime within the police force.
The warrants were used to track LagacÚ's whereabouts using the GPS chip in his iPhone. The warrants also allowed police to obtain the identities of everyone he spoke to or exchanged text messages with during that time.
"The new powers that the police have to survey Canadians are absolutely horrifying, they're basically limitless, there's very little oversight, and when that happens the system will be ripe for abuse, and this is just an example of how it's abused," said Tom Henheffer, executive director of Canadian Journalists for Free Expression.
"What's even more worrying about it is the fact that this is a justice of the peace who actually authorized this."
To me, this was a great pretext to try to investigate a reporter who has done numerous stories in the past that have embarrassed the service,'' he said.