A public inquiry is underway in Quebec into the protection of journalists' sources.

The inquiry was announced last year after revelations that Montreal and Quebec provincial police collected data from the smart phones of several prominent journalists.

Inquiry chair Jacques Chamberland, a judge with the province's court of appeal, opened today by saying the commission's role is not to assign guilt.

Chamberland says there is a need to strike a balance between what the public has a right to know, protecting confidential sources and upholding and applying the law.

The commission must report back to the government with recommendations by next March.

The inquiry’s mandate includes identifying best practices to protect the confidentiality of journalistic sources.