Québécor sues Quebec Press Council for “erroneous, unfair and defamatory decisions”

Quebec Press Council criticized columnist Richard Martineau for questioning the definition of “child soldier” in a column which dealt with convicted terrorist Omar Khadr.

One of Canada’s largest media groups owned by Québécor has asked Quebec Superior Court to stop a private organization from passing judgement about its reporting.

The Quebec Press Council claims on its web site that its “scope extends to all media organizations that publish or broadcast in Quebec, whether they belong to the print or electronic media, regardless of whether they are members of the Council.”

Québécor’s newspapers Journal de Montréal, Journal de Québec and 24 heures as well as its television broadcasting arm TVA Group have claimed “our right not to associate with this organization, a principle enshrined in the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms, is being violated,” Journal de Montréal editor-in-chief Dany Doucet asserted in a statement.

TVA Group quit the Quebec Press Council a decade ago, and Journal de Montreal left two years later, in 2010.

In addition to an injunction, the companies also want more than $200,000 in compensatory and punitive damages for two recent decisions that they claim the Press Council botched, “tarnishing the reputation and image of Québécor’s media properties.”

Québécor considers the first decision the product of “an incomplete and flawed process” and the second “an arbitrary decision that infringed on a columnist’s freedom of opinion.”

Doucet and TVA News vice-president Serge Fortin insisted that “the courts are the only bodies that can make an impartial judgement.”

The Quebec Press Council responded with single-paragraph which indicated that it will study the lawsuit before commenting and that it “takes the lawsuit seriously and will rely on its lawyers to respond.”

The statement also claimed that “the Council acts as a Court of Honour for Quebec media.”

It acknowledged that it is a non-profit corporation, not a judicial body, and underscored that “in no way can the Council be considered to be a civil court, it possesses no judicial, regulator, legislative or coercive powers; the only penalties that it imposes are moral.”

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