Arrest ‘not justified,’ UPAC apologizes to Chomedey MNA Guy Ouellette

Former cop accused anti-corruption agency of using ‘entrapment’ and ‘intimidation’

The Unité permanente anticorruption (UPAC), Quebec’s anti-corruption police force known for its sometimes-dramatic tactics while carrying out its mandate, issued a formal apology last week to independent Chomedey MNA Guy Ouellette who was arrested by UPAC four years ago.

Ouellette was arrested after UPAC came mistakenly to believe, as it now turns out, that he was involved in a leak of information in conjunction with a mole inside UPAC.

At the time, UPAC investigators used a tactic that involved sending a text message to Ouellette over a cell phone that belonged to a suspected UPAC force member.

Interrogated, never charged

When Ouellette turned up, they arrested him, subjected him to a lengthy interrogation, but never filed charges. As part of an agreement between UPAC and Ouellette, he is dropping a lawsuit he filed against the anti-corruption agency.

In a statement issued by the Unité permanente anticorruption last week, the provincial agency said UPAC commissioner Frédérick Gaudreau was offering its official apologies to Guy Ouellette for his mistaken arrest on Oct. 25 2017.

‘Arrest not justified’

“Since then, several errors in the process leading towards the arrest have been noted, notably by the commissioner during a revision of the inquiry,” said the statement. “Hence, the arrest of Mr. Ouellette by UPAC was not justified.

“Today, I am offering my apologies,” Gaudreau continued. “We must learn from these errors and act in such a way that it never happens again. Now, I give my assurances to Quebecers that I will continue to put all my energy into the development of our police corps, and I am entirely confident in the ability of our investigators to get there.”

In addition to the fact he was arrested, Ouellette’s home was also searched. UPAC noted in its statement that not only was Ouellette never charged, but the warrants to search his house were subsequently declared invalid.

‘Truth will rise,’ said Ouellette

In the immediate aftermath of his arrest by UPAC in 2017, and the ensuing rally of support he received from members of the National Assembly, Ouellette at the time had made a simple statement to The Laval News.

‘As I am always saying, the truth will rise to the top – it’s just a matter of time,’ Ouellette had said with apparent foresight four years ago

“As I am always saying, the truth will rise to the top – it’s just a matter of time,” he said in an interview in early November 2017. “I am here in my riding today to continue to serve my people – the people of Chomedey – which is a really important thing. As for the rest of the situation, we will see what will happen. But from now on, it’s my constituents who are my priority number one.”

‘Victim of a frame-up’

Ouellette said he stood by the statement he made in the National Assembly at the time. “For the rest I will let the people make up their own minds,” he said. “I always serve the population and I will always be here for justice and truth. It will stay this way for the rest of my career and the rest of my life also.”

Ouellette told members of the National Assembly that his arrest constituted “an unprecedented attempt at intimidation.” He maintained it was the result of his demands while chairing a National Assembly committee that UPAC be held to account.

“I am the victim of a frame-up,” he said. “I was, I am and I will be always an ardent defender of social justice, democratic values, freedom of speech and the truth.”

‘Entrapment,’ claimed Ouellette

While UPAC officials had used a cell phone text message to draw Ouellette to the residence of the information leak suspect, Ouellette himself called this “entrapment,” while UPAC at the time argued it was a justifiable investigative technique which had been approved and authorized.

Ouellette received solid support from National Assembly members of all parties, as well from as the speaker of the assembly at the time, Jacques Chagnon, who gave a lengthy address on the subject.

His book said it all

Ouellette said just about everything there was to state about UPAC and his experiences with the agency in a book he wrote that was published in September last year.

The 336-page work, Qu’on accuse ou qu’on s’excuse: Les Dessous to mon arrestation illégale (Hugo Publishing, Paris), may have been the factor that effectively blew the lid off what was left of UPAC at that point, helping pave the way perhaps towards last week’s apology.