Defence lawyer seeks to have journalists testify on leaks from UPAC

The trial of Côté, former Quebec deputy premier Nathalie Normandeau and four other accused is scheduled to begin April 9

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Published on: March 1, 2018 | Last Updated: March 1, 2018 10:37 AM EST

Robert Lafrenière is the head of UPAC. The anti-corruption unit’s investigation led to the arrests of Marc-Yvan Côté and Nathalie Normandeau in 2016. Dave Sidaway / Montreal Gazette

The lawyer for Marc-Yvan Côté, a former Quebec politician and one of six persons accused in a fraud and breach of trust trial, will try again on Thursday to force two journalists to testify and reveal their sources.

Côté’s lawyer will argue in Superior Court that a Feb. 12 decision by a Quebec Court judge rejecting a motion that the journalists be compelled to testify be overturned.

Quebec Court Judge André Perreault’s rejection of the motion found that the defence “(has) not shown that the interests of the administration of justice overrule the public interest in preserving the confidentiality of journalistic sources.”

The trial of Côté, former Quebec deputy premier Nathalie Normandeau and four other accused is scheduled to begin April 9.

They were arrested by UPAC, Quebec’s anti-corruption unit, in March 2016 as part of an investigation into the awarding of public contracts in exchange for political financing.

Defence lawyers have argued the proceeding should be stopped because of unreasonable delays and leaks to the media, elements they contend prevent their clients from receiving a fair trial.

The lawyers want to compel journalists Louis Lacroix, of Cogeco, and Marie-Maude Denis, of Radio-Canada, to reveal the identity of the source or sources that provided them with information from UPAC.

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