WATCH: Improving procedures for electronic surveillance of journalists: Montreal police
Montreal police say they are in the process of tightening up rules for the surveillance of journalists, the Chamberland Commission heard today.
Montreal police chief Philippe Pichet was the next witness at the public inquiry into police surveillance of journalists and the protection of media sources.
Pichet's point man on operations and investigations Didier Deramond told the commission that journalists are an essential part of democracy and they are not the usual targets of such surveillance operations but rather innocent third parties. Deramond said there is no legal definition when such cases are applied to media so there is no legal protection.
Deramond said if there is no other way to get evidence, they would seek a warrant for wiretaps or electronic surveillance.
Deramond said officers have to differentiate between reasonable suspicion and reasonable motive for warrants.
Deramond ended his presentation by saying that electronic surveillance is a series of controlled and restricted steps, " very far from random spying."
Pichet spent most of the morning going over the nuts and bolts of his force and the organizational structure from top to bottom. He also reiterated his plans to overhaul the police department's way of operating and the reigning culture by tackling the divisive factions in the force.
When asked what role elected officials have in their work, Pichet said there is a need for a link with elected officials - especially for matters involving citizens - while at the same time, maintaining their independance in investigations.
Head of the commission judge Jacques Chamberland asked Pichet what would happen if an elected official called about a complaint involving them and if he felt comfortable about that.
Pichet said if it were a request for information, they would see what would be the best way to proceed and then refer them to the right place.
The commission is expected to hand in its report in about a year's time.