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Charest won’t rule out lawsuit after controversial Radio-Canada ‘insinuation’

Quebec Premier Jean Charest responds to a question during a news conference in Montreal on Wednesday, August 8, 2012.


Jean Charest is refusing to exclude any options in his dispute with Radio-Canada, but the Quebec Liberal Leader will focus on the Sept. 4 election before deciding on his reaction to a controversial news report that disrupted his campaign strategy.

The French-language arm of the CBC aired a news report on Wednesday alleging that the provincial police stopped a tailing operation shortly after its target ran into Mr. Charest in a hotel in Dorval, Que., in 2009.

Mr. Charest said there was no political intervention to get the Sûreté du Québec to stop its operation, but denounced the "insinuation" that was created by the broadcaster.

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"My conscience is clear. I'm not sure that the same can be said about Radio-Canada today," Mr. Charest told reporters covering his campaign on Thursday.

Asked by a Radio-Canada reporter whether he was contemplating filing a complaint to the network's ombudsman or a lawsuit, Mr. Charest said he was "not excluding anything."

However, he said his reaction will come after the election.

"I will not let myself be distracted from the election campaign," he said. "Don't ask me to comment [on police operations]. I don't know anything about them and I never ask about them. The police operates independently."

Radio-Canada reported on Wednesday that the SQ stopped tailing construction union leader Eddy Brandone in 2009 after he had a conversation with Mr. Charest.

Mr. Charest responded that he did not know him well and had no recollection of what was discussed nearly three years ago during a break from a meeting with native leaders. Mr. Charest said Mr. Brandone supported his 1993 bid to lead the federal Progressive Conservative Party, and often participated in Liberal Party events.

Mr. Charest said his conversations with Mr. Brandone over the years were always "banal," and usually surrounded the fact that Mr. Brandone was one of the rare union officials to support the Quebec Liberals.

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"That news report should have never been made. In an election campaign, it is distracting us from the real issues," he said.

He rejected the notion that he was careless about his links to shady individuals, saying he leads a highly public life and cannot stop people from talking to him or taking pictures with him in public spaces.

"The population understands that," he said.

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About the Author
Parliamentary reporter

Daniel Leblanc studied political science at the University of Ottawa and journalism at Carleton University. He became a full-time reporter in 1998, first at the Ottawa Citizen and then in the Ottawa bureau of The Globe and Mail. More


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