MONTREAL (CN) – A French TV network claims newspaper journalists defamed it in articles that accuse Groupe TVA of sitting on information about former Minister of Foreign Affairs Maxime Bernier. The articles imply that plaintiff TVA acted under the direction of its parent company Quebecor, because Quebecor has friendly ties to Bernier. Bernier resigned in May after it was revealed that he left sensitive government documents in the apartment of a girlfriend who had connections to the Hells Angels.
According to the complaint in Montreal Superior Court, La Presse journalists Patrick Lagace and Richard Therrien tried to “cast doubt on the professional integrity of TVA” because TVA chose to keep confidential the identity of Bernier’s former girlfriend, Julie Couillard, by blurring her face when she gave the network an exclusive interview about her relationship with Bernier.
In his blog, Lagace compared TVA’s actions to the film, “The Insider,” the story of a “60 Minutes” episode in which CBS decided not to release damning information about the tobacco industry.
Lagace failed to mention that other Canadian networks also chose to protect Couillard’s anonymity and “acted to undermine TVA’s credibility by insinuating that the TVA newsroom is run in the interest of Quebecor,” the complaint states.
The plaintiffs seek $1.3 million in damages.