Spread the love

Pierre Fitzgibbon denounces the work of two journalists in the Northvolt file

Photo: Christine Muschi The Canadian Press Minister Pierre Fitzgibbon, last September

Benoit Valois-Nadeau

8:54 p.m.

  • Quebec

The Minister of the Economy, Innovation and Energy, Pierre Fitzgibbon, openly criticized the work of two journalists covering the Northvolt mega-factory issue in an email addressed to a citizen.

Alain Gaulin, lawyer and member of the Regional Environmental Action Movement (MARE), wrote Thursday afternoon to Minister Fitzgibbon, as well as to the Minister of the Environment Benoit Charette and the Member of Parliament for Huntingdon, Carole Mallette, to deplore, among other things, what he considered to be “personal attacks” against journalists by the government.

An hour later, he was surprised to see a response appear in his email box signed by Mr. Fitzgibbon, in which the latter attacks the work of Alexandre Shields, of the Devoir, and Thomas Gerbet, from Radio-Canada.

“I respect “rigorous” journalism, regardless of the conclusions they draw from it. Shields and Gerbet are, in my opinion, “militant” journalists in bad faith who twist the facts to get their message across. Fortunately, they do not influence the population. But I had to decry that they are distorting the facts,” wrote the Minister of the Economy in an email including Le Devoir obtained copy.

“These two activists will remain journalists for a long time and I will soon leave this profession as a politician, it is not true that I will allow such falsehoods to be written,” continued Mr. Fitzgibbon in his missive, before concluding that if “Gerbet and Shields were responsible for the future of Quebec, I am afraid that Quebec's decline would be fatal.”

“I regularly write to ministers, usually on environmental issues, but I didn’t expect to receive a response. Especially since it was obvious that it was Mr. Fitzgibbon himself who responded, not a political attaché,” said Mr. Gaulin, who said he had never met or spoken to Mr. Fitzgibbon in the past.

Questioned by Le Devoir, Mr. Fitzgibbon's team confirmed that the email did indeed come from the minister's handwriting.

“The minister says in private what he says in public. Here he repeats what he said during his visit to the CCIQ [Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Quebec],” said his press secretary, Mathieu St-Amant.

On Wednesday, in front of business people in the capital, Mr. Fitzgibbon called “false” an article from the Radio-Canada website, which claimed that the threshold for triggering a review of the Bureau public hearings on the environment (BAPE) for the manufacture of cathodes had been increased from 50,000 to 60,000 tonnes at the request of Northvolt.

“People who want to make up stories should write novels. Activists should publish essays,” the minister added.

On February 19, Mr. Fitzgibbon also attacked “certain activists and certain equally militant journalists” in an open letter published by La Presse.

“The minister explained, during his speech to the CCIQ, with a clear example, what he criticized in Mr. Gerbet's article; he could also have taken a text from Mr. Shields . The response given to Mr. Gaulin and his public speech to the CCIQ clearly explain his point of view,” said the minister’s press secretary.

The office of Prime Minister François Legault refused to comment on Pierre Fitzgibbon's statements.

“Deplorable” and “unacceptable”

The president of the Professional Federation of Journalists of Quebec (FPJQ), Éric-Pierre Champagne, described Minister Fitzgibbon's comments as “deplorable” and “unacceptable”.

“For elected officials to attack the work of journalists like this is very disappointing,” he said in an interview. [Mr. Fitzgibbon] attacks the integrity of the profession. Would we see an elected official criticizing doctors, lawyers, agronomists in this way ? No other profession could be attacked in this way. It’s shocking to see how slack-jawed journalists and media are. I find this very worrying. »

Mr. Champagne was also concerned about the effects on the general public of Mr. Fitzgibbon's recent outings against journalists.

“By denigrating the work of the media and journalists like this, we contribute to public distrust. We are talking about a super-minister in a position of authority within the government. He has a lot of influence. So, when someone like that makes such comments, it's hard to imagine that it has no influence in society. »

“If there is a crisis of confidence in the media, it is among other things because there are more and more politicians who allow themselves to question the legitimacy and integrity of journalistic work, solely for political purposes,” argued the president of the FPJQ.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116