|Pierre Duchesne. (YANN CANNO/QMI AGENCY)
MONTREAL - Quebec Liberals filed two official complaints Friday against a recently retired CBC French journalist, claiming he favoured separatists in his reports before joining the Parti Quebecois.
Minutes later, Pierre Duchesne announced he was running for the PQ in a riding southeast of Montreal, saying: "Quebec can't grow with a provincial border ... what's needed for Quebec is a country."
In a five-page complaint to the CBC ombudsman and the Quebec Press Council, Premier Jean Charest's party says Duchesne's separatist leanings tainted his reporting from the Quebec legislature as recently as last month.
Liberals say one of Duchesne's own colleagues told them about a plan to lure the reporter to the separatist side while he was still with the state broadcaster.
"The various political parties ... including the Parti Quebecois, which probably benefited from the situation, were subject to biased media coverage," said the Liberals. "This is a serious situation in total violation of the journalists' ethics code."
Duchesne spent 25 years in journalism, mainly at the French CBC. As legislature correspondent, he offered reports and political analysis of Charest's handling of the student crisis right up until his June 15 retirement.
At his first news conference as a politician, he said the PQ only contacted him two weeks after he left the profession.
"I defend my 25 years of impartiality," said Duchesne, who once wrote a biography of separatist ex-premier Jacques Parizeau.
"I spoke to (Marois) for the first time on Wednesday ... I had no contact with political parties before leaving CBC."
The ex-journalist then took direct aim at the premier who he had covered for the past decade.
"Was I the one who met a fundraiser who was later arrested by the police?" he said.
"Who's teaching me lessons on ethics here? Jean Charest? The one who took a second salary (from his party)?"
Duchesne, who had often complained about political parties limiting reporters' questions, took only two questions Friday before walking off.
The CBC defended Duchesne's reporting Friday, saying in a statement that his work was in line with its ethics handbook.
But Toronto Star political analyst Chantal Hebert, who previously had a long career as a French CBC reporter, took a shot at Duchesne on Twitter.
"Difficult to imagine a situation that more closely corresponds to a conflict of interest," she tweeted.
Charest doesn't have to call an election until the end of next year but he's expected to pull the trigger at the end of next month.