Former politician loses right to practice accounting

A former Quebec politician who served a six-month sentence after being found guilty of five counts of fraud and three counts of breach of trust by a public official recently lost a legal battle against the disciplinary committee of the Quebec Order of Chartered Accountants who had revoked his license for life.

In a 17-page ruling, Quebec Superior Court Judge Claude-C. Gagnon dismissed Jean Fillion’s suit to overturn the sentence handed against him by the professional corporation.

“He is seeking conclusions that neither more nor less attempt to rewrite history, rescind the negative effects on his reputation, legitimize actions he was found guilty of by previous rulings by the courts, and ultimately exonerate his name to facilitate his return back into the labour market,” said Judge Gagnon.

In a last-gasp effort to be able to rescind his revocation, Filion challenged the constitutionality of s. 149.1 of the Professional Code. That section grants an investigating officer of a professional corporation the power to lodge a complaint against a member before the disciplinary council based on a decision of a Canadian court declaring the professional guilty of a criminal offence, which in the opinion of the syndic is related to the practice of the profession. According to the same section, a certified copy of the judicial decision is proof before the disciplinary council that the offence was committed and that any facts reported in the decision are true.

“Evidently, the legal memorandum is the work of a litigant who represented himself and who has difficulty understanding the jurisdictional basis for a constitutional challenge but who nevertheless launches an all-out offensive against legal provisions and many decisions against him, that in his mind, are the source of his professional setbacks,” said Judge Gagnon, who refused to hear Filion’s constitutional challenge because it was ill-founded.

A former Parti Québécois member of the National Assembly, Filion was first elected in August 1991 after he won a by-election in Montmorency in the Quebec City region. Re-elected in 1994, Filion decided to sit as an independent between 1995 and 1998. He was charged with misappropriating approximately $100,000 for his personal benefit allocated to him as a member of the National Assembly. He was alleged to have taken certain amounts allocated to him to pay his political staff and administer his riding office, and use them to pay workers who did work in the building and staff who created three software programs, one of which was considered to have been used for personal purposes.

There were 13 counts against Filion, nine of which alleged that while an “official” he had committed fraud or breach of trust in connection with the duties of his office, thereby committing the indictable offence provided for in s.122 of the Criminal Code. The other four counts alleged that he had, by deceit, falsehood or other fraudulent means, defrauded the Government of Quebec – that is, the National Assembly – of an amount exceeding $5,000, thereby committing the indictable offence provided for in s.380 of the Criminal Code.

On October 2004, Quebec Court Judge Jean-François Dionne convicted Filion of five counts of fraud and three counts of breach of trust by an official. On February 2006, the Quebec Court of Appeal dismissed Filion’s appeal. On September 2006, the Supreme Court of Canada refused to hear his appeal.

Twenty-two days later, Ginette Lussier-Price, the syndic or investigating officer of the Quebec Order of CA, lodged a complaint against Filion based on the ruling rendered by the Quebec Court. The syndic alleged that Filion committed eight acts that brought disrepute to the honour and dignity of the profession. On June 2007, the disciplinary committee permanently revoked Filion’s license to practice, a ruling that was upheld on October 2007 by the Professions Tribunal, which hears appeals from decisions made by the disciplinary council of professional corporations. Filion appealed the ruling issued by the Professions Tribunal before Quebec Superior Court, and lost again.

Since Filion has not appealed the latest ruling, the 58-year old Quebec City native can no longer practice as a chartered accountant. Enrolled as a member of the Quebec order in 1981, Filion worked as an auditor for Samson Bélair from 1973 to 1974, before moving on to Revenue Canada for a couple of years. He then was a tax consultant and later still headed a tax department for an accounting firm in the mid-1980s. He then launched his own firm before taking up the political life.

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