Five of the six recent New Brunswick judicial appointments have close connections to Liberal Minister of Intergovernmental and Northern Affairs and Internal Trade and former Liberal leadership candidate Dominic LeBlanc raising questions of political payoffs. One is married to LeBlanc's brother-in-law, one is a neighbour who bought a property from LeBlanc, and three contributed to paying off LeBlanc's $31,000 in leadership debts and made donations to his election campaigns.
Federal Liberals have been promising to appoint the "most meritorious jurists" to judicial vacancies across Canada, but most candidates winning judicial appointments in New Brunswick over the last year have had something else going for them — personal connections to senior Liberal MP Dominic LeBlanc.
Five of the last six federal appointments announced in New Brunswick include Leblanc's neighbour, a LeBlanc family relation and three lawyers who helped retire debts from his unsuccessful 2008 leadership bid. LeBlanc is currently minister of intergovernmental affairs, northern affairs and internal trade. ...
In the latest judicial appointments in New Brunswick announced last month, federal Justice Minister David Lametti named Moncton lawyer Robert M. Dysart and Saint John lawyer Arthur T. Doyle to the trial division of the Court of Queen's Bench. According to financial records on file with Elections Canada, both men have been regular donors to the Liberal Party, including to LeBlanc's Beauséjour riding association, even though in Doyle's case he lives 100 kilometres away. The two were also among a group of 50 donors who gave money in 2009 to help LeBlanc retire about $31,000 in debts from his unsuccessful 2008 federal Liberal leadership campaign, according to records filed with Elections Canada.
Also helping with that leadership debt was lawyer Charles LeBlond and businessman Jacques Pinet, both from Moncton. LeBlond won an appointment to be a judge on the Court of Appeal in March. DeWare herself was a Conservative Party donor and originally appointed to the bench in 2012 by the Conservative government of Stephen Harper. But she and Pinet are also neighbours of LeBlanc. In 2013, they bought a seaside property in Grande-Digue from LeBlanc next to his own summerhouse. Property records show they paid $430,000. Pinet is married to Justice Tracey Deware. She was named chief justice of New Brunswick's Court of Queen's Bench trial division by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in early June.
In a fifth appointment last year, Moncton family lawyer Marie-Claude Belanger-Richard was picked to fill a judicial vacancy in Saint John. She is married to LeBlanc's brother-in-law.