Sun Media Corporation and the "Journal de Montréal" fined $10,000 for invasion of privacy of Raelians



    MONTREAL, May 11 /CNW Telbec/ - The Court of Quebec found Sun Media and
the "Journal de Montréal" guilty for invasion of privacy of two Raelians, one
of which is a priest. Sun Media was ordered to pay the victims more than
$10,000 in compensatory and punitive damages, as well as judicial expenses and
expenses for expertise.
    Let us recall that Brigitte McCann and Chantal Poirier had infiltrated
the Raelian Movement using false identities, and took hundreds of clandestine
photographs. With dishonest intentions, they later wrote a series of articles
on the Raelian Religion in the "Journal de Montréal" and the "Journal de
Québec", in October 2003. They also published several photographs of Raelian
members, without beforehand having acquired their consent, thus causing them
important moral and material damages (loss of jobs and contracts, undermining
their respectability, their honor and their reputation, etc.).
    Court of Quebec Judge Grenier severely condemns the illegal, dishonest
and excessive techniques used by Sun Media's journalists and directors. He
based his judgment on the Press Council own principles as enunciate in the
document titled 'Rights and responsibilities of the press': "Such abuses not
only have the consequence of trivializing the practice of true investigative
journalism, but they also damage the credibility of the Media and journalists
as well as the credibility of the information given to the public as a result
of such investigations" - www.jugement.qc.ca - A. c. Sun Media Corporation,
March 31, 2009 (French) or : www.mediashit.org (English non-official
translation).
    Mr. Daniel Chabot, Bishop and spokesperson of the Raelian Religion
declared: "This is a great victory for human rights and freedoms in Quebec. It
was high time that justice pronounced itself on the ever-increasing abuses and
lack of ethics by the Media. Private life is a sacred right and it was about
time that the courts severely punish those Media who, in the name of an
alleged public interest, unabashedly violate this right". Mr. Chabot added:
"From now on, the directors of the "Journal de Montréal", including Dany
Doucet and Serge Labrosse, can no longer claim to be above the laws and the
Charter, to abuse individuals and fill the coffers of their newspaper".
    Moreover, Mr. Chabot added: "Unfortunately, there are several 'Justices'
in Quebec. Indeed, for the same case, Judge John Keable, from the Court of
Quebec in Montreal, completely closed his eyes on the abuses of Sun Media's
journalists, and in October 2007 dismissed the cases of 13 of the 14 Raelians
having lodged a complaint. The diametrically opposite judgments of judges
Keable and Grenier will be brought to the attention of the Minister of
Justice, who will have to explain why Keable "washed his hands" by refusing to
pronounce himself on the illegal methods of the journalists. Moreover, a
complaint against this judge will be officially lodged next July with the
office of Ms. Asma Jahangir, the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion
or Conviction."
    The judgment of judge Grenier conveys to the Media that the Raelians'
right to the respect of their privacy exists and that they can practice their
religion with complete peace of mind. "Please note also that $4,000 $ of the
$10,000 awarded are punitive damages, which underlines the malicious
intentions of Sun Media and the "Journal de Montréal" and aim to discourage
other Media that could be tempted by such abuses. This judgment is a precedent
and will serve as case law, not only for Raelians, but also for all members of
religious minorities" declared Mr. Chabot.
    It is however regrettable that the judge did not impose an obligation to
publish the court order in the "Journal de Montréal" and the "Journal de
Québec", because it is unfortunate that the Quebec Media, through a kind of
unhealthy solidarity with these condemned Media, do not give this news item
broader exposure.
    The members of the Raelian Religion will soon be demonstrating their joy
in front of the offices of the "Journal de Montréal".




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