QUEBEC — From Thursday's Globe and Mail Published on Wednesday, Apr. 14, 2010 4:47PM EDT Last updated on Wednesday, Apr. 14, 2010 9:29PM EDT
In turn, Marc Bellemare, the former justice minister, filed a formal complaint on Wednesday asking the Sûreté du Québec to investigate the Liberal party over allegations of kickbacks and influence peddling. Mr. Bellemare said earlier this week that influential party donors asked him to appoint particular people as judges, and that he saw construction entrepreneurs give huge amounts of cash to Liberal officials to get around legal limits on the size of donations. Mr. Bellemare said he told Premier Jean Charest about the irregularities five times while he was justice minister from April, 2003, to April, 2004, but nothing was done.
When Mr. Bellemare refused to retract his accusations yesterday, Mr. Charest followed through with his threat to launch a personal lawsuit against Mr. Bellemare, demanding $700,000 in damages “for false, malicious and defamatory remarks.”
By calling on Michel Bastarache, a former Supreme Court of Canada judge from New Brunswick, to look into the serious allegations, Mr. Charest is following in the footsteps of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who turned to a respected former Supreme Court justice, Frank Iacobucci, in an attempt to address public concerns over the handling of Afghan detainees.
Before Mr. Bellemare stepped forward this week with his explosive charges, Mr. Charest’s government was already facing allegations of favouritism and bid rigging involving the construction industry, the awarding of daycare permits and information technology contracts. The Premier had resisted calls for an inquiry but had to act when the integrity of the justice system was brought into question.
“It’s an exceptional step on our part to put together a commission of inquiry because the allegations of someone who was a minister of justice do affect the credibility of our justice system,” Mr. Charest said. “The mandate will touch on the allegations made by Mr. Bellemare on the way judges were named.”
Mr. Bastarache’s mandate will be restricted to judicial appointments. He will be able to call witnesses, offer them immunity and will hold “far-reaching powers,” Mr. Charest said. Mr. Bastarache has been asked to complete his inquiry and make recommendations by October.
In interviews yesterday, Mr. Bastarache said he will not try to redefine his mandate to include Liberal party financing.
During his time on the bench Mr. Bastarache was considered a moderate conservative. Always a staunch federalist, Mr. Bastarache campaigned for the Charlottetown constitutional accord in the 1992 referendum before being appointed to the Supreme Court in 1997 by prime minister Jean Chrétien. He was a colleague of Mr. Chrétien in the law firm of Lang Michener before his appointment to the New Brunswick Court of Appeal in 1995. Because he comes from outside Quebec, he is an ideal choice, Mr. Charest said.
“He has no vested direct personal interest in the way the judicial system operates in Quebec,” Mr. Charest said. “The fact that he has not sat on a Quebec court is good.”
Mr. Bastarache works in Ottawa for the law firm Heenan Blaikie and sits on the board of directors of the Trudeau Foundation along with Paul Desmarais Jr., one of Mr. Charest’s closest business and political allies.
The opposition parties expressed respect for Mr. Bastarache’s judicial credentials, but argued that the inquiry’s mandate fails to address the real issue of political corruption in Quebec.
“When you’re the accused, you don’t choose your judge and choose the charges to be laid against you,” said PQ House Leader Stéphane Bédard. “Mr. Charest no longer has the moral authority and the legitimacy to refuse Quebeckers a wider public inquiry.”
Commentary by the Ottawa Mens Centre
There are few things in Canada that stink to high heaven of corruption and
its those who select the judiciary that leave the worst odor.
In reality, judges are the paymasters for Canada's lawyers, its done by "orders for costs" supposedly "won" by the "successful party".
The most successful law firms charge the highest rates,and they have one thing in common, inside contacts into judges chambers.
Take virtually any law firm where a lawyer became a judge, NOT ALl but some of those firms also have a combination of politicians and judges. If you see that combination, the odds of a corrupt link rocket.
If you see a law firm with judges, politicians and the judges name or names remain on the law firm shingle then the odds the place reeking in obtaining corrupt decisions is almost certain.
Dirty lawyers don't litigate issues, they litigate costs, their goals are to create "orders for costs" that drive one party out of the court room by engaging in fraud, and getting a corrupt judge to make a decision their way , that decision is
a virtual check for a very large amount.
Judges print money, with a stroke of a pen, increasingly the legal profession choose to change the rules to increase the odds and amounts of costs orders.
In Ottawa, the very worst judges are very well known. Its nothing for a well known judge to make decisions for his friends, and it all adds up to millions of dollars each year in costs, judges pens dish out millions of dollars and a large chunk of that just happens to end up in the hands of their former partners, their former friends, those who did them favours and of course, those of the right political connections.
In Ottawa, the judge with the nick name of "the worst of the worst" is none other than Allan Sheffield. Just ask any lawyer in Ottawa.
Other hot commentary that day
J_R1 ( wonder who this is!)
Mr. Bastarache works in Ottawa for the law firm Heenan Blaikie and sits on
the board of directors of the Trudeau Foundation along with Paul Desmarais Jr.,
one of Mr. Charest’s closest business and political allies.
Imagine some one here posted that there is no connections between the Quebec Liberals and the Feds.
The judge is one of Chretien's cohorts in the same law firm. He worked with Chretien years ago in the same law firm.
He sits on the board of the Trudeau foundation along with Charest's closest business and political allies, Paul Desmarais of Power Corporation.
Who happens to be the father of Andre Desmarais, Chretien's son-in-law. Chretien made a fortune with Power Corp earlier in life.
This reeks from start to go. And Charest won't let the judge delve into the corruption charges?
Liable to lead straight back to the Federal Liberals while in power. Golf courses anyone?
Liberal stench at it's worst.
No way this can fly. Rotten through and through.
Notice the Globe remove almost any comment that raises any concern about the appointment process of judges?
Absolute power corrupts absolutely and in any group of people there are always a percentage who will abuse their fiduciary and legal duty not to mention oath of office.
Canada's judiciary contains saints, an underbelly of the "worst of the worst" and everything in between.
Marc Bellemare is to be commended for having the courage that might lead to a less corrupt judicial appointment process that is at present controlled by those who sought to have that power and many of whom are entirely unsuitable.