Court of Appeal of Quebec

Guimont c. Bussières

February 18, 2019

200-09-009573-178

Hilton, Ruel, Gagné

Appeal from a judgment of the Superior Court granting a motion to dismiss. Dismissed.

The respondent Bussières wrote an article reporting on a Superior Court judgment dismissing a $1 million lawsuit brought by the appellant against the Ville de Québec. The article also referred to charges laid against the appellants under the Defence Production Act (R.S.C. 1985, c. D-1) in connection with the possession of night vision goggles. On March 14, 2012, this article was published in the Le Soleil newspaper and on the respondent Gesca’s website, lapresse.ca. On June 14, 2016, the appellant became aware of it. On December 9, 2016, the appellants filed a judicial application claiming $500,000 for a violation of their fundamental rights. The trial judge found that the case was governed by the Press Act (CQLR, c. P-19) and noted the short prescription period under that statute and the requirement for parties who deems themselves injured by an article to give a previous notice. The appellant did not give a previous notice and did not comply with the prescription period.

The Press Act does not apply to an article published on a news streaming website. The word “newspaper” in the Press Act and the referral to the formalities under the Newspaper Declaration Act (CQLR, c. J-1) constitute an insurmountable obstacle. Therefore, Gesca cannot avail itself of the provisions of the Press Act, and the extinctive prescription period in its respect is one year; consequently, the appellant’s action against it was not prescribed. The same cannot be said of the respondents Bussières and Groupe Capitales Médias inc., who are entitled to the protection of the Press Act with respect to the publication in the Le Soleil newspaper.

The respondents’ alternative argument, which raises the absence of a legal basis to the appellants’ action, has merit. Although one of the main criticisms against the journalist is that he did not try to obtain the appellant’s version of the facts, the journalist’s duty was to report the facts stated in the Superior Court judgment accurately and in good faith, not to guarantee their truth or the merit of the charges laid against the appellants. 

*Summary by SOQUIJ
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