Canada: Québec Propose De Mieux Protéger Les Lanceurs D'alerte: En Route Vers Un Dérapage De Divulgation Dans Les Médias?

Available only in French.

Le 2 décembre 2015, l'Assemblée nationale a déposé le projet de loi n°87 intitule Loi facilitant la divulgation d'actes répréhensibles dans les organismes publics, soit une semaine après le dépôt du rapport final de la Commission d'enquête sur l'octroi et la gestion des contrats publics dans l'industrie de la construction (communément appelée « Commission Charbonneau »). Ce projet de loi vient en réponse à la 8e recommandation du rapport de la Commission Charbonneau en prévoyant l'instauration d'un régime général de protection des lanceurs d'alerte au sein des organismes publics du Québec. Le projet de loi liste d'ailleurs des actes dits répréhensibles dont l'État cherche à encourager la divulgation (l'expression anglaise « whistleblowing » est fréquemment utilisée).

Ce nouveau régime visera notamment les ministères, les organismes dont le personnel est nommé par le gouvernement, les entreprises du gouvernement (Hydro-Québec, Investissement Québec, Loto-Québec, la Société des alcools du Québec, la Société Innovatech), la Commission de la construction du Québec, la Caisse de dépôt et de placement du Québec, les commissions scolaires ainsi que les universités et les hôpitaux publics. Les entreprises privées sont pour le moment exclues du régime proposé par le projet de loi.

La définition d'« acte répréhensible », libellée de façon à en permettre une interprétation large, inclut notamment toute contravention à une loi ou un règlement applicables au Québec, tout manquement grave aux normes d'éthique et de déontologie ou, encore, tout cas grave de mauvaise gestion au sein d'un organisme public, qu'il soit commis ou sur le point de l'être.

Par ailleurs, un « acte répréhensible » inclura également le fait d'ordonner ou de conseiller à une personne de commettre un tel acte à l'instar des articles 21 et 22 du Code criminel.

Trois mécanismes de divulgation sont prévus : le premier et le second consistent respectivement en la divulgation au Protecteur du citoyen ou à la personne responsable du suivi des divulgations de son organisme (poste à être créé). Le Protecteur du citoyen pourra ensuite faire enquête et déférer, selon ses conclusions, à un corps de police ou au Commissaire à la lutte contre la corruption, alors que la personne responsable du suivi des divulgations de l'organisme public fera rapport à la personne ayant la plus haute autorité administrative qui prendra les mesures correctrices appropriées.

Le troisième mécanisme est préoccupant, car il consiste en la divulgation directement au public dans certaines circonstances particulières. Même si la disposition prévoit une divulgation préalable à la police ou au Commissaire à la lutte contre la corruption, elle permettrait à toute « personne (qui) a des motifs raisonnables de croire qu'un acte répréhensible commis ou sur le point de l'être présente un risque grave pour la santé ou la sécurité d'une personne ou pour l'environnement et qu'elle ne peut, compte tenu de l'urgence de la situation, s'adresser (au Protecteur du citoyen ou à la personne responsable de la divulgation au sein de son organisme) (de) divulguer au public les renseignements qu'elle estime raisonnablement nécessaires pour parer à ce risque
(...) ».

Le projet de loi prévoit des amendes sévères pour toute personne ou organisme public qui exercerait des représailles (rétrogradation, suspension, congédiement ou déplacement ainsi que toute autre mesure disciplinaire ou mesure portant atteinte à son emploi ou à ses conditions de travail) à l'encontre d'un lanceur d'alerte, soit jusqu'à 250 000$. De telles amendes s'appliqueraient en sus des dispositions du Code criminel qui sanctionnent les mesures de représailles par une compagnie privée ou toute autre entité à l'égard des employés lanceurs d'alerte.

Il s'agit de la première version d'un projet de loi qui fera l'objet de commentaires en commission parlementaire ainsi que, fort possiblement, de modifications d'ici sa sanction officielle. Entre autres, le mécanisme cherchant à autoriser la divulgation de renseignements directement au public, soit via les médias traditionnels ou encore via les médias sociaux sera fort probablement source d'interrogations et de débats. Finalement, dans sa mouture actuelle, le projet de loi ne prévoit aucune mesure contre les lanceurs d'alerte mal intentionnés qui, en détournant le régime de son objectif, l'utiliseraient de façon abusive, incluant pour causer des dommages à la réputation d'un organisme public ou d'un de ses fonctionnaires ou dirigeants.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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