Friday, May 22, 2009

Police Collude With Journalists to Target Montreal Hasids

Montreal's Hasidic community (an ultra-religious Jewish sect) is centered in the Outremont district, much to the displeasure of many Christian neighbours, who complain that the community flaunts city bylaws and disrespects neighbours on an ongoing basis.

I sympathize and understand their frustrations.
The Hasids are not particularly cooperative, whether they be in Outremont, Val-Morin, Brooklyn or even in Israel for that matter, where they are routinely in conflict with the majority of the Jewish nation who are mostly secular.

I am, however offended by the treatment of the community at the hands of Rue Frontenac journalists and police who are working hand in hand to humiliate them.

Rue Frontenac is a news website set up by striking journalist from 'Le Journal de Montreal' which has been running negative stories about Hasids flaunting the law.

The affair first came to my attention when a Rue Frontenac journalist, Valérie Dufour, wrote a story about a Hasidic block party celebrating a Jewish holiday, wherein the revelers unwisely and illegally lit a big bonfire in an urban neighbourhood after being denied a permit.
The story was documented by a surprising video, which was obtained, according to the journalist, because;
"A team was in the district by accident and was attracted by the noise coming from a residential neighbourhood. They filmed this scene at 10PM, Monday night" (my translation)

Une équipe de, qui était dans le quartier par hasard, a été attirée par le bruit depuis les quartiers résidentiels. Ils ont filmé cette scène aux environs de 22 heures, lundi soir.

As I read the story, I became sceptical that a team of striking journalists would happen to be working, camera in hand at 10PM, in a Hasidic neighbourhood and quite by accident happen by the celebration. It's highly unlikely and I made a mental note of the story.

Last Tuesday, Rue Frontenac ran another story about the Hasids and included another video, which absolutely defied any pretense that it was the result of happenstance.

Fabrice de Pierrebourg wrote a story about an undercover operation mounted by Quebec's transport police, the SAAQ (a government agency who are charged with monitoring licensing and regulations on Quebec roads), targeting a bus transporting Hasids between Brooklyn and Montreal, allegedly without a valid permit.

This time, no explanation of how a Rue Frontenac journalist was able to film the incident was offered. I guess another 'accident' would be too implausible. The video shot by Rue Frontenac was posted on their site and on Youtube .

I have no problem with journalists writing exposes and protecting their sources. But they shouldn't mislead their readers as to how they got the story.

It's obvious that the SAAQ informed the journalists of the undercover operation, which took place late at night and included an unmarked police vehicle.
There is no plausible explanation for the journalist's presence, except for the fact that they were advised beforehand, which begs the question as to what the quid pro quo was.

While the video posted by Rue Frontenac on Youtube was entitled "Arrestation", no arrest occurred and the bus and it's passengers were allowed to proceed. The word 'arrestation' has more than one meaning in French, but it's clear what is meant. They could have chosen 'Arret' or 'Intervention' which better describes what actually happened.

That the police allowed the stop to be filmed is more proof of collusion.
Try filming a Quebec cop in the act of making an arrest and you'll be told in no uncertain words to scram. Continue filming and you'll find yourself on the ground in handcuffs, charged with obstruction. That's a Quebec reality.
By the way, since when do police offer comments to journalists about ongoing investigations?

For the SAAQ police, it's an unacceptable breach of ethics to collude with journalists in this manner. They need to explain their actions and apologize for the fact that they arranged for the incident to be filmed.

When journalists and police work hand in hand, it becomes a news story in and of itself.
Doing investigative work in exchange for exclusive scoops crosses a journalistic line that needs to be exposed.

Rue Frontenac needs to apologize for the false inference that there was an 'arrest' made and needs to come clean about their 'pas de deux' with the police in targeting the Hasids.

Rue Frontenac opened the door to these questions. They could have said nothing about their sources, as in the second story by Mr. de Pierrebourg and let the public draw their own conclusions, but Valérie Dufour, who wrote the first story claimed that ;
"Une équipe de, qui était dans le quartier par hasard",
If you believe that, you probably believe Mr. Mulroney's story.

We demand an explanation...

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