(Quebec) The owner of Radio X multiplies the recourses in front of the courts to unmask the authors of the Coalition let’s get out the radios-bins of Quebec. In particular, the station wants to stop a campaign that targets its advertisers, many of whom are “nervous” and “chilled”.
The radio asks to “stop harassing or, in good French, to sicken the customers”, in the words used by its director general Philippe Lefebvre during an examination for discovery in the context of the prosecution.
The legal offensive by RNC Media – which owns Radio X – comes against the backdrop of its critics “having redoubled their efforts to damage the reputation and business” of the station since the COVID-19 pandemic.
Recall that Radio X was the target of a major boycott campaign in September 2020. The City of Quebec announced that it was ceasing to advertise on the station, considering that the antenna “constitu[ed] a danger to public health”. The City has since reconsidered its position.
At the same time, the Coalition let’s get out the radios-trash circulated on its platforms the names of the bosses of RNC1 and the list of advertisers of Radio X. It invited people to write to advertisers asking them to stop buying The advertisement.
RNC wants these methods to stop. The media company is therefore suing Patrice Vachon and Julien Gaudreau.
It demands a series of measures that could force Sortons les radios-poubins to cease its activities altogether, such as “to cease operating any website, Facebook page or Twitter account dealing with the Plaintiff or its administrators”.
RNC also calls for an end to “any form of harassment or denigration” of Radio X and wants to prohibit Sortons les radios-bins “any mention relating to the administrators” or “compiling the list of advertisers”.
The company is seeking $10,000 from each of the two men. “We lost a lot more money than that,” dropped Philippe Lefebvre, who is also vice-president of RNC, during his examination for discovery. Some advertisers who have become “cautious” or “nervous” will hesitate, according to him, to do business with Radio X.
RNC retains the right to seek more money “when the involvement of the Defendants and the true extent of their faults become more known”.
This lawsuit filed in June 2021 has since become quite complex. It’s that the two men RNC is prosecuting would deny being the Coalition’s “malicious users.” La Presse tried to reach the lawyer for the two men, but he preferred not to comment.
RNC sued Julien Gaudreau and Patrice Vachon because their names are in the business register as administrators of the non-profit organization “Coalition contre la radio trash”, created in 2012 and then dissolved in 2019.
“They tell us it’s not them, but we don’t believe them,” summarizes RNC lawyer Me Bruno Lévesque, met on March 31 at the Quebec City courthouse.
In its argument, the defense argues that the RNC lawsuit is based on “gossip and hypothetical associations” and alleges a “fishing party” that is primarily intended to “intimidate and coerce the Defendants into disclosing information they may detain – real legal “hold-up”.
The case was put on hold and RNC has since filed five Norwich-style petitions to force Facebook, Twitter and internet providers to identify those who powered the Coalition’s site and social media.
When RNC’s attorneys have this information, they plan to resume the trial.
The threat hanging over the Coalition worries the Quebec section of the Ligue des droits et libertés. “The Coalition chose anonymity from its inception to escape attacks from the hosts of CHOI Radio X and their followers,” argues the League.
The lawsuit also worries Dominique Payette, author of the book Les brutes et la punaise: trash radios, freedom of expression and the insult trade. She recalls that the Coalition uses its platforms to archive many controversial remarks made on the airwaves of Quebec’s talk radio stations.
“The radio stations remove controversial comments from their websites. It gets extremely complex if you don’t have that record,” she said. “I don’t see why RNC is doing this, if not to silence them,” adds Ms. Payette, who argues that Radio X critics have in the past “experienced extremely painful moments”.
Radio X had already sued a Coalition administrator in 2013. Jean-François Jacob and the station had reached an amicable agreement, but the man had said at the time that he had lost his job and was forced to leave Quebec.
The Coalition says that RNC has never tried to reach it to ask it, for example, to stop its campaign with advertisers. “If they want to settle, let them contact us. But there they want to intimidate, ”says Étienne Lantier, a spokesperson for the Coalition who uses a pseudonym taken from Germinal, by Émile Zola.
The Superior Court has yet to hear several Norwich-type motions. It is unclear at this time when the original pursuit will resume.
The Coalition’s website indicates that it “aims to mobilize, raise awareness and inform the population of Quebec about the hate speech conveyed by trash radios and the impact they have on society”.