10/11/2013 02:24 EDT | Updated 12/11/2013 05:12 EST

Quebec Federation of Labour loses court fight over wiretaps

Quebec’s largest labour group has lost a court battle over wiretap evidence it wants to keep out of the hands of the Charbonneau corruption inquiry.

Last week, the Quebec Federation of Labour (FTQ) went to the Superior Court to ask for more time to make a case against releasing that evidence to the inquiry.

Today, Superior Court Justice Geneviève Marcotte ruled against that delay — effectively ensuring the wiretaps will be heard shortly by the inquiry into corruption in Quebec's construction industry.

The issue came up at the inquiry last month, when chief commissioner France Charbonneau refused a request from the labour federation not to play the recordings.

That's when the head of the FTQ, Michel Arsenault, and the former general manager of the real estate arm of the federation's Solidarity Fund, Guy Gionet, took the case to court. 

Commission will not hear wiretaps related to personal life

The lawyer for the FTQ argued that because the surveillance tapes were recorded in the course of a police investigation which did not lead to any criminal charges against union officials, they should not be played before the corruption inquiry.

He argued that allowing the tapes to go public would damage the reputation of the FTQ’s top brass.

However, Justice Marcotte rejected that argument, ruling that she would allow the tapes to be played because the inquiry has promised it will only make use of recorded conversations about the speakers’ professional lives and nothing pertaining to their personal lives.

Marcotte said given the Charbonneau commission's mandate as a public inquiry, the commission should have access to all the evidence it deems important.