The Quebec Press Council has unanimously elected retired Justice John Gomery as its new president.

A self-described "news junkie," Gomery was in the public spotlight when he presided over a commission of inquiry into the federal government sponsorship scandal starting in February 2004. It resulted in a fact-finding report in 2005 and a second report in 2006 containing recommendations.

General secretary and former interim president of the Quebec Press Council, Guy Amyot, says the press council was looking for a president with an excellent reputation, extended professional experience, proof of leadership, and a preoccupation with ethics.

In a statement, Gomery expressed enthusiasm for this new challenge, saying journalism plays an essential role in democratic life.

However when talking about his new post in person, Gomery said journalists could be doing a better job.

"As I say, any institution can be improved," said Gomery. "I think journalistic ethics can be improved and on the base that, you know, individual journalists can make mistakes and do make mistakes.

"And they need to be called to order when they make these mistakes, and these mistakes need to be exposed and criticized."

The Quebec Press Council is a non-profit organization dedicated to the protection of the freedom of the press and to the defence of the right of the public to quality reporting.

Most recently, Gomery acted as the honourary chairman of Projet Montreal's fundraising efforts during the 2009 municipal election campaign.