Liberals Pay Off Their Friends, Relatives and Donors

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Liberals Pay Off Their Friends, Relatives and Donors

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.


Democracy Watch has filed a complaint over the Liberal goverenment five out of six New Brunswick judicial appointments having close ties to Liberal Minister of Intergovernmental and Northern Affairs and Internal Trade and former Liberal leadership candidate Dominic LeBlanc. Democracy Watch says all Liberal government appointments should be stopped because this problem is so serious. It also says the ethics commissioner himself should step aside in this investigation to allow someone independent of the Liberal party and Liberal appointments since he was also appointed by the Liberals. 

An advocacy group has filed a complaint with the federal conflict of interest and ethics commissioner calling for an independent investigation into Dominic LeBlanc and the connections he has with recent judicial appointments in New Brunswick.

Democracy Watch is also calling on the federal government to suspend all judicial and watchdog appointments until “the appointment process is changed to be actually independent and merit-based.”

The connections to LeBlanc, MP for the New Brunswick riding of Beauséjour and current minister of intergovernmental affairs and northern affairs and internal trade, were initially reported on Tuesday and come despite promises by the federal Liberals to appoint the “most meritorious jurists” to judicial vacancies.

The appointments include the wife of LeBlanc’s brother-in-law and prominent donors to both the Liberal Party and the federal Liberal association for LeBlanc’s riding.

The details of the connections were first reported by CBC New Brunswick. ...

As a result of the number of connections between the judicial appointees and LeBlanc, Duff Conacher, co-founder of Democracy Watch, says an investigation is necessary to determine if LeBlanc violated federal ethics laws by “participating in the decisions to appoint the judges.”

Conacher says the incident is so concerning that the organization is calling on the federal government to stop the current appointment process.

“To stop this dangerously undemocratic and unethical appointment process for judges and watchdogs, the appointment process should be suspended until, as in the UK and Ontario, a fully independent public appointment commission is created to conduct public, merit-based searches for nominees and send a short list to Cabinet, with Cabinet required to choose from the list,” Conacher said in a press release. ...

Democracy Watch has even requested that Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion step aside from any possible investigation into the judicial appointments.

The organization says Dion cannot lead the investigation as he was “handpicked by the Trudeau cabinet.”

“Commissioner Dion must delegate the investigation to someone independent of his office and all political parties,” said Conacher.



NDP MP Charlie Angus has released a statement on five of the six recent New Brunswick judicial appointments having close ties to Liberal Minister of Intergovernmental and Northern Affairs and Internal Trade and former Liberal leadership candidate Dominic LeBlanc:

“Yet again, Trudeau's Liberal government has shown a complete disregard for the impartiality of appointments in Canada.

On Tuesday, CBC revealed that five of the last six federal judicial appointments announced in New Brunswick have ties to Dominic LeBlanc, the Minister for Intergovernmental and Northern Affairs and Internal Trade. LeBlanc's neighbour, a LeBlanc family relative, and three lawyers who helped retire debts from LeBlanc's 2008 Liberal leadership bid have all been announced as new federal judges. This level of cronyism is completely unacceptable.

To make matters worse, this isn't the first time that this senior Liberal cabinet Minister has broken the rules to help his personal connections. In September, Canada's Ethics Commissioner ruled that LeBlanc broke conflict of interest rules from handing a highly profitable Arctic surf clam licence to a company linked to his wife's cousin.

At this rate, it looks like Dominic LeBlanc could teach Doug Ford a lesson on patronage appointments.

But it's not just about cronies. We are seeing a disturbing willingess of the Trudeau government to undermine the independence of the judiciary. This interference led to the SNC scandal and the decision by two top Liberal cabinet ministers to quit. The pattern was continued in the leakage of information on the Supreme Court nomination process and the government's policy of vetting judges through a partisan database.

Time and time again, the Liberals have shown that they care more about helping their friends and donors than making life easier for everyday Canadians.


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