Death shows lack of police training to deal with people in crisis

A 2017 fatal Montreal police shooting of a man underlined a lack of sufficient training to de-escalate situations when faced with people in the midst of a mental health crisis, found Quebec coroner Luc Malouin.

Pierre Coriolan, 58, was tasered, struck with a rubber bullet and shot three times. Malouin castigated police for using rapid-response tactical training, whose aim is to isolate and control the threatening person. But it is not appropriate approach to deal with people whose mental state is “disturbed,” said Malouin in his 33-page report.

“This intervention does not meet what is expected of police officers trained in recent years. And, in my humble opinion, this is the biggest problem of this intervention: police officers who have not had the most recent training in intervention with people in crisis (and) therefore acted with outdated methods that were in no way up to date with current knowledge.”

Those in the line of duty recognize that training is deficient. According to a 2021 report by an expert panel on Quebec policing, nearly 40 per cent of police consider mental health crisis management training to be inadequate. More than 70 per cent of patrol officers working for the Quebec provincial police believe their training is “deficient” to deal with people facing mental health issues. At present, about 480 hours of training in the police college training program are devoted to “interventions of a social nature.”

From the report:

On-duty police officers “lack the tools, resources and training to fulfil their social role, particularly in terms of intervention with people with mental health problems, sexual violence, domestic violence, or to make effective contact with members of ethnocultural communities.

From a police perspective, the gap between training and the challenges encountered on the street is based on the fact that many of the skills and behaviours adapted to the new realities are not easily acquired in schools or through refresher training, but rather are the result of the experience acquired or the basic temperament of the police officer. (my underlining)

In 2019 Quebec police received more than 80,000 calls to deal with people facing mental distress.

Yet another lead counsel of a public inquiry resigns

This is a case of déjà vu all over again.

When Bernard Amyot resigned as the lead counsel of a public inquiry that will shortly be investigating surveillance of journalists by Quebec police, it marked the third time in seven years that a lawyer who sought to make a mark in public affairs had his hopes dashed.

Amyot, an ambitious Montreal lawyer with solid credentials, was appointed days before Christmas as lead counsel of the Commission of Inquiry on the Protection of the Confidentiality of Journalistic Sources by Quebec Court of Appeal Justice Jacques Chamberland, the chair of the commission. Less than three weeks later, an opinion piece penned by Amyot nine years ago came to haunt him. He had castigated Montreal columnist Patrick Lagacé for being a pseudo journalist who lacked vigor:

“Lagacé, who is neither a journalist nor an analyst, all the same claims the right to preach to everyone, however without deigning to impose on himself, in a measured and rational manner, the necessary rigour to debate ideas.”

Calls for his resignation by the organization that represents Quebec journalists soon followed because the opinion piece raised doubts about his neutrality. Lagacé, after all, is a central figure behind the scandal that prompted the Quebec government to launch the inquiry. Last fall it was revealed that the high-profile journalist had been the target of a months-long covert police operation that tracked calls and texts on his iPhone because law enforcement authorities were trying to find the source of an internal leak to the media.

In a statement Amyot said “doubts have been raised about me, and even though these doubts have no legal basis, I am making the decision to withdraw from my position as lead counsel.”

In 2012 renown Montreal lawyer Sylvain Lussier too felt compelled to resign a week after being nominated lead counsel of Quebec’s public inquiry into the province’s construction industry, which came to be known as the Charbonneau Commission. “Doubts” had been raised about a possible appearance of conflict of interest over an old case he had worked on as a lawyer, and while Lussier asserted that the concerns had “no basis in fact or in law,” trepidation over the integrity of the inquiry prompted him to step down.

In 2010 Québec City lawyer Pierre Cimon also saw slip away his opportunity to leave his mark as lead counsel of a public inquiry that examined the way judges are nominated in Quebec, or the Bastarache inquiry as it is better known. Barely a week after being appointed by former Supreme Court justice Michel Bastarache, Cimon bitterly resigned after being caught in a political maelstrom that raised doubts over his impartiality following revelations that he had regularly contributed to the Quebec Liberal Party. Between 2002 and 2007, Cimon made five donations ranging from $250 to $500 – far less than what he gives to the Barreau du Québec’s Foundation or his local parish.

“I donate to the local parish even though I am not a churchgoer,” Cimon told me at the time. “I donate because I believe churches play an important social role. It doesn’t mean that I practice and believe in the church’s dogma or agree with Cardinal Marc Ouellet’s position that abortion should be criminalized. The same holds true for the donations I made to the Liberals. I am a federalist, and that was the only place I could donate.”

Though the trial lawyer asserts he is apolitical, never attended a political meeting nor solicited or received any benefit from any government, and does not even know anyone stemming from ranks of the Liberals, he felt he had no choice to step down in order to avoid doubt being cast on the impartiality of the Bastarache Commission and to ensure the serenity of its procedures.

The Quebec Act respecting public inquiry commissions is silent about how the commission’s counsel are appointed. It does not state who has the power to appoint the counsel nor does it stipulate whether a procedure should be followed. That is not a unique situation. The Ontario Public Inquiries Act too provides no “provision for this crucial step in an inquiry’s life,” pointed out a 1992 Report on Public Inquiries by the Ontario Law Reform Commission. (That is still the case today).

In practice, the power to select an inquiry’s counsel is granted to the chair of the commission. “There are no rules or guidelines,” told me a lawyer familiar with the inner workings of public inquiries. A Protocol on the appointment of judges to commissions of inquiry that was adopted by the Canadian Judicial Council in 2010 states that’s the way it should be. “The judge should have complete independence in selecting his or her staff, in particular the commission counsel,” says the Protocol.

But the three resignations strongly suggest that it is perhaps time to review how judges appoint counsel to public inquiries. “I have seen how public inquiries can restore confidence and fix institutions – and I have also seen the tremendous impact on individuals whose lives are forever changed through their participation in the process,” once remarked former Ontario Court of Appeal Justice Dennis O’Connor, who sat as Commissioner on both the Walkerton and Arar Inquiries. At a time when public confidence in the justice system is under siege, it is incumbent upon judges appointed to head public inquiries to put in place proper vetting procedures that take into account not only conflicts of interest but perceived conflicts of interest that may cast doubt upon the players even though the qualms may have “no legal basis.” It certainly would help if they were media savvy and aware that in this day of age of unhealthy partisanship and intense media scrutiny, aided and abetted by the omnipresence of social media, that perceived conflicts of interest take on a life of its own.

Lawyers appointed as lead counsel of public inquiries too bear a responsibility of side-stepping potential ethical minefields. The president of the Fédération professionnelle des journalistes du Québec, Stéphane Giroux, noted that a simple Google search revealed that Amyot had written a “very disturbing” article that led to his resignation. Lagacé, upon learning of Amyot’s resignation, said that he was astonished that Amyot had accepted the mandate to act as lead counsel of the inquiry in the first place. “He is no doubt a good lawyer, I have nothing to say about that, but he knew what he had written about journalism, the media and certain individuals such as myself. I find it surprising that he had accepted, but he redeemed himself by recusing.”

But there’s no reason for yet another public inquiry to be subjected to an unnecessary blot. More is and should be expected.

Quebec companies barred from bidding on public contracts have little chance of obtaining legal relief

Companies that have been barred from bidding on public contracts stand little chance of obtaining injunctive relief that would temporarily suspend a new law aimed at curbing corruption in the construction industry, following a closely-watched ruling by Quebec Superior Court.

In the wake of allegations of bribes, collusion, influence peddling, and widespread corruption in the construction industry, corroborated by testimony before the Charbonneau commission, the Quebec government passed legislation last December that compels companies to obtain a seal of integrity if they wish to bid on the billion dollars in contracts awarded annually in the Quebec public sector.

Under the Integrity in Public Contracts Act (IPCA), the province’s securities commission is the public guardian responsible for granting authorization to enterprises in a call for tenders or an award process for a contract or subcontract with a public body. The Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF) has sweeping discretionary powers to determine the integrity of enterprises and of its shareholders, partners, directors or officers and of any person or entity that has direct or indirect legal or de facto control over the enterprise.

The AMF works closely with Quebec’s anti-corruption police squad . After an authorization request has been submitted to the AMF, it refers the matter to police, who conduct an investigation and then provides the AMF with an advisory opinion. So far, there have been 250 authorizations that have been submitted, 194 of which have been granted, some thirty-odd are still under study, and four have been refused, according to AMF spokesman Sylvain Théberge.

Les Enterprises Bentech inc., a Montreal numbered company that was refused an authorization by the AMF because it allegedly is a shell company, issued false invoices and failed “meet the high standards of integrity that the public is entitled to expect from a party to a public contract or subcontract,” is challenging the AMF’s interpretation of the integrity law in a case that has yet to be heard by the courts. In the meantime Bentech however sought an injunction that would allow the Montreal firm to complete a contract it was awarded. But Quebec Superior Court Justice Chantal Corriveau refused to provide an injunction that would suspend the AMF’s decision to blacklist Bentech. “Contrary to what Bentech submits, the Court cannot conclude that the decision by the AMF exceeded its competence,” said Justice Corriveau before adding that the legislator granted broad powers to the AMF that allows it to “weigh discretionary factors.”

The ruling underscores the challenges faced by companies who are blacklisted by the AMF, said Sébastien Laprise, a Quebec City lawyer with an expertise in public procurement law and municipal law. The new integrity law “is a law of public order and therefore judges will demand convincing evidence before even considering suspending the effects of the Integrity Act,” said Laprise of Langlois Kronström Desjardins, LLP. “That is going to be very difficult.”

Eric Simard, a Montreal lawyer who leads the construction practice group for Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP, asserts that unless the constitutionality of the integrity law is challenged companies will face a formidable task to “protect their interests” as temporary injunctive relief will be rarely granted in light of the ruling in 9129-2201 Québec inc. v. Autorité des marchés financiers 2013 QCCS 4857. “The only way that entrepreneurs who consider that their rights have been violated can protect their interests is to launch a frontal constitutional attack on this law,” remarked Simard.

Some believe that the law is ripe for challenge. Daniel Bouchard, the managing partner of the  Quebec City office for Lavery, de Billy,  believes that the new law grants the AMF far too extensive discretionary powers. Under the Integrity Act, the AMF may take into account a non-exhaustive list of factors in exercising its discretion, including whether an enterprise (or its majority shareholder or one of its directors or officers) has links with a criminal organization, was prosecuted for an offence listed in the Integrity Act, and whether the enterprise is under the direct or indirect legal or de facto control of another enterprise that has in the preceding five years been found guilty of an offense listed in the Act. More controversially, the AMF may also refuse or revoke any authorization if the enterprise fails to meet the “high standards of integrity that the public is entitled to expect from a party to a public contract or subcontract.”

“What does that mean,” asked rhetorically Bouchard.  “Personally I find that the legislator went too far and the risks for abuse are large. It’s difficult for me to say that the law is unconstitutional or illegal but they have given the AMF such large discretionary powers that it will often be questioned.”

Christopher Mostovac, a Montreal lawyer defending Bentech, does not intend to challenge the constitutionality of the law. When the case will be heard sometime next year before Quebec Superior Court, Mostovac will be pleading that the AMF went beyond the scope and parameter set out by the Integrity Act when it decided to blacklist Bentech.

“I am not going to take the position that this law is wrong or unconstitutional,” said Mostovac, who teaches a tax litigation course at the University of Montreal. “I am taking the simple position that in the case at hand the AMF has an absolute obligation to follow the parameters which the law gives it in attempting to determine who has a moral standard or who doesn’t, otherwise it becomes dangerous for all concerned because it exposes you to decisions of a completely arbitrary nature.”

Damage control: Quebec’s professional corporations

The professional corporations overseeing lawyers and engineers declared recently that they now intend to get even tougher on crooked professionals. Zero tolerance, declared Nicholas Plourde, who stepped down earlier this month as the head of the Quebec bar. The president of the Quebec engineering professional corporation stated that his organization is “determined to get to the heart of the matter and restore public trust.

Following a parade of arrests made by the province’s anti-corruption police unit and troubling revelations disclosed by Quebec’s inquiry into allegations of corruption and construction-industry wrongdoing, the reputation of lawyers has been sullied and the standing of engineers in tatters. The inquiry, ably headed by Justice France Charbonneau, has heard hundreds of hours of testimony over the past year from more than 80 witnesses who shed light into the deeply-rooted system of kickbacks, bribes, and illegal fundraising, linking the province’s construction industry to politicians, civil servants, and engineers and lawyers.

All of which begs the question: how effective is the oversight of Quebec’s professional corporations? In Quebec there is a formal system in place to protect the public from professionals. A law called the Professional Code, introduced nearly forty years ago, lays the foundation of this system. The Code spawned the creation of organizations, or professional orders as they are known in Quebec, to oversee professionals. Each professional order has powers of self-regulation and self-discipline to fulfil their mission of protecting the public.

All told, there are 44 professional orders that govern the practice of 344,000 professionals. All professional orders are overseen by a government agency, l’Office des professions du Québec, whose mandate lies with ensuring that that each order guarantees protection of the public. Each of these orders must name people who investigate transgressions. In Quebec they are called syndics, presumably borrowing from the Greek term for individuals who help in a court of justice.At last count more than sixty people worked for the Quebec law society’s investigative branch. Its annual budget is an impressive $7.4 million, according to the law society’s 2012-13 annual report. Between April 1, 2012 and March 31, 2013, the Barreau du Québec’s investigative branch opened 3,522 dossiers, 2,245 of which are still pending. The syndic believed that it had reasonable grounds that a professional committed an offence on 54 instances last year, and brought the matter to the attention of the law society’s disciplinary committee. In more than 1,000 cases (1,029 to be precise), the syndic felt there was no grounds to bring up the matter before the disciplinary committee.

The Barreau’s disciplinary council heard 93 cases between April 2012 and March 2013, and issued 107 decisions. According to the law society’s annual report the disciplinary council

  • authorized the retraction of the complaint lodged by the syndic in 4 cases,
  • rejected the complaint in 13 cases,
  • acquitted the lawyer in 3 cases,
  • found a lawyer guilty in 17 cases,
  • acquitted and found the lawyer guilty in 3 cases,
  • found the lawyer guilty and imposed a sanction in 20 cases,
  • imposed a sanction in 24 cases,
  • came to another decision in 22 cases,
  • and halted the procedures in a single case.

Again, according to the latest annual report, the law society’s disciplinary council disbarred lawyers:

  • for a period of three months and less in 28 cases,
  • between three months and less than a year in 21 cases,
  • between a year and five years in 154 cases,
  • permanently disbarred lawyers in 23 cases.

But astonishingly the law society’s disciplinary council did not hear a single case between April 2012 and March 2013 that touched on the sordid revelations made during the Charbonneau Commission. A disquieting number of cases dealt with misappropriation of trust funds but the Barreau’s disciplinary council did not hear a single case that involved bribery, corruption or kickbacks.

Last May, just before he completed his year-long mandate, the batonnier of Quebec’s legal society made a rather unusual public disclosure. He confirmed that the syndic is now conducting an investigation on three lawyers who were arrested recently by the province’s anti-corruption police unit. “The Barreau is not in the habit of coming out publicly over investigations the syndic is conducting,” acknowledged Plourde. “But the Barreau is very preoccupied by what is happening. We decided to come out to reassure the public.”

Plourde also called on the provincial government to hand the syndic the power to temporarily suspend lawyers facing criminal charges. In the meantime, the Barreau has added more staff to its investigative branch to deal with an “increase demand for investigations generated” by the Charbonneau Commission, wrote the Barreau’s executive director Claude Provencher in its latest annual report.

The Quebec engineering professional corporation too is playing catch-up. In a commentary published by the Montreal Gazette, the president of the Ordre des ingénieurs du Québec vaunted that it has launched an “unprecedented initiative in Quebec’s professional system.” A voluntary audit program for consulting-engineering firms has been established to allow it to examine their business practices and “encourage their integrity.” A laughable endeavour, if it weren’t so pathetic.

Daniel Lebel, the president of the Quebec professional engineering order, too has admitted that in the wake of revelations made during the Charbonneau Commission that the syndic has “systematically opened inquiries at the centre of the allegations.” According to its 2012-13 annual report, the syndic’s office received 294 requests to investigate its members. The syndic is currently investigating 233 cases involving 211 engineers. Approximately 30 per cent of the cases are linked to revelations made during the Charbonneau Commission. Again, the question lingers: since the principal mandate of the professional corporation is to protect the public, where have they been all these years?

Even then, Lebel warns the public to be patient as the disciplinary process may be lengthy. In an odd turn of phrase Lebel says: “These inquiries (by the syndic) will only lead to complaints, which must be founded on solid evidence, and ultimately to punishments if the Ordre has enough time to do everything it must to complete them.” No explanation was given by what he means if the professional corporation “has enough time.”

Jacques Duchesneau, a former Chief of the Montreal police and former head of a Quebec anti-collusion unit who leaked his own report on the scope of corruption in the awarding of construction contracts, justly condemned the wall of secrecy that has rocked Quebec.

That wall is now crumbling but it remains that questions have to be raised around the efficacy of the professional system in place in Quebec for more than a generation. Where were they when Quebecers needed them most?

Witnesses testifying in public inquiries NOT necessarily protected

The lead counsel of a commission of inquiry into allegations of corruption in Quebec’s construction industry inadvertently found himself in the spotlight over a thorny legal question surrounding the immunity of witnesses who testify before the inquiry.

Sylvain Lussier, lead Commission counsel of the Charbonneau Commission, said that the sworn testimony of witnesses who testify during public inquiries cannot be used against them in criminal proceedings. But the same may not hold true for civil proceedings.

He then backtracked after his team ostensibly examined the jurisprudence, and asserted that witnesses are protected from civil suits.

Except that Lussier said nothing new.

In a story I wrote about the very subject, Lussier told me that the testimony provided by witnesses before commissions of inquiries can be used in civil proceedings. In fact that’s exactly what he did when he was retained by the federal government to manage the litigation phase for the recovery of funds pertaining to the infamous sponsorship scandal.

Here are the relevant passages of the story I wrote:

In Quebec, it is possible that a judge may hold that a “clear admission of responsibility” made during a commission of inquiry may be introduced as evidence. Under s.2850 of the Civil Code of Quebec, an admission is the acknowledgment of a fact which may produce legal consequences against the person who makes it.

“A clear admission of responsibility made before a commission of inquiry may be introduced in civil proceedings in Quebec because the Civil Code states that it is possible to introduce admissions as evidence,” said a Canadian lawyer specializing in public inquiries who spoke on condition of anonymity.

That’s exactly what Lussier did in the Canada (Procureur général) c. Brault 2006 QCCS 999. In interim rulings rendered by Quebec Superior Justice Gilles Hébert as case management judge in the sponsorship case, some admissions that were made during the Gomery Commission, formally the Commission of Inquiry into the Sponsorship Program and Advertising Activities, were allowed to stand.

“I myself used what was said in the Gomery Commission against civil defendants and was vindicated by Justice Hébert,” said Lussier, adding that in his own opinion s. 13 of the Canadian Charter does not grant protection against self-incrimination in civil proceedings. Though on less solid ground because of the absence of precedence, Lussier also believes that witnesses who slander while providing testimony before a commission of inquiry cannot hide behind the shield of immunity.

Another lawyer familiar with the inner workings of public inquiries notes that while the Canadian and Quebec Charter as well as the Quebec Act respecting public inquiry commissions provides protections against self-incrimination, it does not necessarily preclude the testimony provided by other witnesses during a commission of inquiry from being used against a person facing a civil trial.

“That is not a case which involves protection against self-incrimination but rather an issue that deals with the admissibility of evidence,” said the lawyer who spoke on condition of anonymity. “It is simply information that can be used against someone in a civil proceeding.”

Here’s one more interesting observation Lussier shared with me at the time.

“You can sue for defamation for slanderous procedures. Lawyers and clients do engage their liability if they write defamatory procedures. The fact that it’s in court does not grant immunity from defamation suits. So why would something slanderous being said before a commission (of inquiry) be immune from ulterior prosecution.

“The only place where you would get immunity is in Parliament. That’s why people want to testify before Parliament because you can’t use what they said.”

There are yet more nuances that need to be considered. Transcripts of sworn testimony before a public inquiry cannot be introduced as evidence in a civil proceeding. “The rules of evidence in a commission of inquiry are very slack,” told me a public inquiry expert. “There are really no standards that exist.” Of course, there are exceptions such as when a witness has passed away, and even then the use of transcripts must be approved by a judge.

But that doesn’t mean the transcripts of sworn testimony cannot be used in other ways. Lawyers can use transcripts to help them prepare their case or use it to help them during the discovery process. “There is a world of a difference between introducing the transcripts of sworn testimony and using that information to prepare the case. There are no obstacles that prevent someone from doing that,” added the expert.

Witnesses in public inquiries can be caught in a tight bind. Though they may be vulnerable to civil suits, they have no choice but to testify. As Lussier told me, witnesses “can be jailed and cited for contempt if they refuse to answer.”

News roundup – Bastarache, Hydro-Quebec & Innu, & scandal-plagued construction industry

More fallout from the Bastarache report. A former associate deputy-minister who corroborated Marc Bellemare’s version of events is considering going to court. During the Bastarache commission Georges Lalande produced Post-it notes as evidence that he said substantiated Bellemare’s but former Supreme Court of Canada justice Michel Bastarache concluded that it did not did not meet the reliability criteria established by the general rules of evidence. In an interview, Lalande said he felt he was defamed.

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Hydro-Quebec signed a $125-million agreement in principle with Quebec Innu, seemingly clearing a major legal hurdle that threatened to jeopardize one of the largest infrastructure works underway in the country. The Innu of Uashat Mak Mani-Utenam, located near Sept-Îles in the province’s North Shore region, agreed to drop legal action in return for the compensation package from the provincial utility. The legal proceedings against the utility could have blocked the construction of power lines for the $6.5-billion La Romaine hydroelectric project project. The lawyer representing the Innu community, Jean-François Bertrand, pointed out however that the Innu of Uashat and Mani-Utenam still have outstanding land disputes with the federal and provincial governments. They are seeking more than $2-billion in compensation for other hydro, mining and forestry projects undertaken on their ancestral lands over several years without their consent.

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Diane Lemieux, a former Parti Québécois labour minister, has been named as head of the Commission de la Construction du Québec, which is responsible for enforcing the provincial law on labour relations, professional training and workforce management in Quebec’s $30-billion a year construction industry. Lemieux will literally be in the hot seat as there have been growing calls for a public inquiry into the construction industry, which has been plagued with allegations of corruption and ties to the governing party.

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Montreal lawyer Audrey Best, wife of former Quebec Premier Lucien Bouchard, passed away, following a three-year battle with breast cancer. Best, separated from her husband, worked up until the past month with the law firm Heenan Blaikie in Montreal.

Bastarache Commission’s report published

Evidence filed by Marc Bellemare — Cryptic notes he scrawled on a piece of cardboard while watching a hockey game on the day of his resignation.

The jury is out. Now that the Bastarache Commission’s 290-page report on Quebec’s judicial nomination system has been published (including a 34-page English summary), political spinning is in full grind. The report exonerates Quebec Premier Jean Charest, dismisses allegations made by former justice minister Marc Bellemare that the judicial appointment process in Quebec was tainted six years ago, and makes 46 recommendations to address weaknesses in the Quebec judicial selection and appointment process.

Bellemare dismissed the report, Quebec’s opposition parties claim the report was a farce, and editorials weighed in with their observations.

Bellemare is sticking to his story. The former minister believes that the public at large will believe his version of events, regardless of the findings of the report. He may have a point. A poll taken by CROP, taken on the Internet, says that 66 per cent still believe Bellemare’s allegations, that is, that he faced undue pressure from Quebec Liberal Party fundraisers (with the consent of Premier Charest) to nominate two judges of the Court of Quebec and promote a third during his tenure as justice minister from April 2003 until April 2004.

Parti Quebecois leader Pauline Marois accused the Bastarache commission of ignoring reality while the right-wing party ADQ deplored the gapping omissions.

In its editorial the Montreal Gazette said that the commission report’s recommendations for improving the appointment process and “enhancing the composition of the provincial judiciary are pertinent.”

The well-respected French-language Montreal newspaper La Presse has several opinion pieces on the Bastarache, all worth reading, beginning with legal columnist Yves Boisvert who notes that the “prudent” report has made worthwhile recommendations to improve the judicial nomination process.

Alain Dubuc says that the provincial government has no choice but to act quickly to implement the changes recommended by the former Supreme Court justice while political columnist Vincent Marisal states that lost Premier Charest lost his bet – the findings of the Bastarache report will do nothing to alleviate the pressure on the highly unpopular Premier to hold an inquiry into the construction industry. Rumours of corruption and illicit political ties with the governing party have been growing over the past year.

The Globe and Mail editorial holds that Premier Charest was “unjustly made to wear the failings of the judicial appointments system,” while the influential French-language paper Le Devoir does not seem to hold much hope that things will change.

Some pertinent background material I wrote. It focuses on inquiries, immunity within the context of inquiries and recommendations to improve the judicial nomination system made by a panel of experts commissioned by the Bastarache inquiry, recommendations that the Bastarache paid heed to.

A lot of links, a lot of reading, but all worthwhile as it provides a unique glimpse on how the judicial nomination system has surprisingly captured the attention of Quebecers.

News roundup: National securities regulator challenge, labour strife, Lt-Governor heads to court & Bastarache

Hearing before the Quebec Court of Appeal on national securities regulator challenge by the Quebec government expected to last a full week.

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Quebec’s legal system may end up being crippled next week as crown prosecutors and lawyers step up their pressure tactics. Ninety per cent of membership representing Quebec government lawyers voted for a strike on Monday. Crown prosecutors are expected to vote on pressure tactics this Saturday. For more background, here’s a story I wrote about the grievances lodged by an organization representing provincial government lawyers.

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Lieutenant Governor of Quebec Lise Thibault heads to court on January 31, 2011 to face criminal charges, including fraud, forgery and breach of trust in connection with allegations of extravagant spending while in public office.

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Long-awaited Bastarache report on judicial nomination system to be released on Wednesday, January 18, 2011. Here are a couple of stories I wrote on the Bastarache inquiry, immunity in commissions of inquiry, and the nature of public inquiries.

Experts make recommendations to improve judicial nomination process

At the risk of discouraging the “best” candidates from applying for appointment to the judiciary, Quebec’s system of nominating judges should bolster disclosure requirements to enhance transparency and accountability while constraining the discretionary powers of the Minister of Justice by compelling him to select from a short, if not ranked, list of candidates, according to series of comprehensive and wide-ranging recommendations made by experts commissioned by the Bastarache Commission.

Continue reading “Experts make recommendations to improve judicial nomination process”