Audette v. Radio-Canada and Gravel

Plaintiff Gilles Audette is the political attaché to Michel Arsenault who is President of a major union, FTQ-Construction.

He was taped by a media source against his will, after having expressly asked the source if he was being taped and having been assured by the source that he was not being taped. The source then provided the tape to a CBC reporter.

Audette sued CBC and sought a provisional and interlocutory injunction, ordering CBC to turn the tape over to him, claiming it violated his right to privacy, protected by the Civil Code of Quebec and asking for an order that the taped conversation not form part of a broadcast that CBC was proposing to air.

Chaput, J. held that the tapes were journalistic material belonging to the CBC and that nothing in the affidavit material before him indicated that CBC had come into possession of the tape using illegal means, or that the plaintiff’s private life was at issue. (It should be noted that in the affidavit material, the plaintiff claimed that the source was being paid by CBC to obtain the tape, but the source denied this in a short affidavit that was also filed at the hearing).

Chaput, J. dismissed the demand for an injunction and held that on a proper balancing of competing interests, à la Dagenais/Mentuck, there was a clear public interest which outweighed the plaintiff’s alleged privacy rights.