1 million dollar lawsuit against Cogéco

QUÉBEC, le 3 févr. 2016 /CNW Telbec/ - The City of Québec filed a lawsuit in the amount of one (1) million dollars ($500,000 in compensatory damages and $500,000 in punitive damages) against Cogéco inc., Cogéco Diffusion Acquisitions inc. and Cogéco Diffusion inc., as well as against the president and director
Mr. Louis Audet and the manager of the Québec radio station CJMF‑FM 93, Mr. Richard Renaud, for the false, inaccurate, malicious and diffamatory comments made on the air of FM 93, on November 25, 2015, by its morning man Sylvain Bouchard, during the morning show Bouchard en parle.

During a segment of the show aired on prime time (around 8:08 a.m.), Bouchard commented the content of the Report publically released the day before by the Commission of Inquiry on the Awarding and Management of Public Contracts in the Construction Industry (« Charbonneau Commission »), as well as an article published by the "Journal de Québec" on November 25, with regards to what the Charbonneau Commission had designated as the "Québec cartel", a cartel of engineering firms who colluded to share public contracts granted by the City between 2007 and 2011.

On this occasion, the morning man Bouchard severely and intentionally damaged the reputation, dignity, integrity and probity of the City, its administration, its municipal officials as well as its elected officials by leading to believe that the "Québec cartel" would have given rise to acts of CORRUPTION in the City's administration, whereas this was not the case.

More specifically, the City argues that Bouchard falsely reported the facts contained in the newspaper article and in the Report of the Charbonneau Commission, in a spirit of sensationalism, by leading the public to believe that the City had been facing "CORRUPTION", an extremely severe criminal act necessarily involving a municipal official or elected official, while neither the Report nor the article were addressing any corruption issue with regards to the City of Québec.

The City also argues that Bouchard was biased and dishonest in presenting the situation of Québec as being similar to the one of Montréal (for which proven cases of corruption were reported by the Charbonneau Commission and by numerous newspaper articles), going even further in mischievously suggesting that the administration of Québec City would have showed wilful blindness in this regard. Furthermore, the City argues that the morning man falsely led the audience to believe that the "Québec Cartel" would have been involved in 70% of all of the contracts granted by the City.

The City maintains that the host Bouchard, has obviously acted intentionally for the « show » and in order to increase ratings and the station's profits, and possibly provoke the City and its Mayor to obtain an interview.

The City holds Cogéco, its affiliates, the director and president Mr. Louis Audet as well as the manager of the station, Mr. Richard Renaud, responsible for the faults committed by Bouchard, arguing that they must also answer for their negligence to ensure the veracity and reliability of the information that they broadcasted on the air, their negligence to rectify the facts and their negligence to implement measures to adequately and sufficiently prevent libel and defamation by their morning man, in a context where they knew his style and the risks resulting therefrom.

The City also holds the defendants liable for having endorsed and maintained on the station's Website their morning man's misleading comments, along with a tendentious title.

The City finally argues that the defendants should have been more cautious as they had already received a formal notice from the City in another defamation matter and had already been severely blamed by the courts for a similar situation and for having failed to maintain adequate and effective surveillance of one of their other radio hosts.

The City concludes that the damages sustained in this case are considerably important in a context where there is a generalized climate of suspicion and diminished confidence among the public with regards to governmental and municipal administrations. It also argues that the libel committed in this instance is of an extreme gravity as it unduly discredits the entire administration of the City of Québec, its municipal officials and elected officials, while they have been multiplying efforts and proactive measures for years to ensure and maintain the integrity and good reputation of the City on a regional, national and international level. The City will not be issuing any comments in this regard.

 

SOURCE Ville de Québec

For further information: Sylvain Gagné, Service des communications, 418 641-6210, sylvain.gagne2@ville.quebec.qc.ca

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