Quebec Liberal Premier Jean Charest
Credits: MAXIME DELAND/AGENCE QMI
The CBC reported on Wednesday that in 2009 provincial police were tailing Eddy Brandone, a former leader of a large Quebec labour union and long-time Quebec Liberal Party organizer.
The surveillance operation was immediately halted after police witnessed Brandone exchange a few words with Charest while the premier was at a hotel for a meeting with Inuit leaders, the CBC said.
The report said members of the provincial police - who didn't want their names published - said that they felt uncomfortable that the operation was stopped.
"There is an unwritten code about protecting the government," the CBC was allegedly told by provincial police investigators. "They do not want to give the impression that a criminal investigation is getting close to the premier."
Another provincial police officer allegedly told the CBC that "the person responsible for the operation simply panicked when he saw the premier and decided to order the blackout (end of the surveillance operation)."
The provincial police have so far refused to comment on the case because they said the facts are part of an investigation into a former union official.
Charest told reporters on Thursday that he has never been privy to police investigations and that he never gave an order to stop a police surveillance operation.
He said he questioned the "journalistic ethics" of the French CBC report and questioned the timing of the report, which came out after the first week of the election campaign.
"I saw the (CBC report) and I find it appalling," he told reporters.
Charest said he has known Brandone since 1993, but didn't remember the details of the short conversation he had with him at the hotel in 2009.
Parti Quebecois Leader Pauline Marois said Wednesday evening that the CBC report was "concerning."
"It's not normal that a surveillance operation is halted and for that we need explications from Mr. Charest," she said.
Coalition Avenir Quebec Leader Francois Legault said the report is "troubling."
"We need to know who gave the order (to stop the operation)," he said.