WATCH: Chamberland Commission begins hearings into police surveillance of journalists

The Chamberland Commission's public hearings into the police surveillance of journalists and protection of media sources kicked off today with an overview of the media in Quebec society and their role as watchdogs of democracy and public institutions.

The public inquiry was prompted by revelations that police monitored cellphone conversations of journalists to find out information about their sources.

The commission, headed by Quebec Court of Appeal Judge Jacques Chamberland, is looking into those circumstances and will make recommendations on improving transparency and procedures and protecting media sources. It does not have the mandate to find criminal wrong-doing.

Chamberland said in his opening statement that they have to strike a balance between protecting whistleblowers and ensuring police can do their work.

The hearing started with presentations by ex-Le Devoir chief Lise Bissonnette and criminal lawyer Jean-Claude Hébert on the overall role of media and the justice system in Quebec society.

The first two weeks will focus on this aspect and testimony on the meat of the matter will take place in May and June.

The commission's report is expected in March of next year.