Barreau president vows to fight federal omnibus crime bill

The Barreau du Quebec’s new president has vowed to lead the fight against the federal government’s omnibus crime bill after taking the helm last weekend.

Nicolas Plourde said the barreau’s general council was unanimous in its support for a court challenge to Bill C-10, the Safe Streets and Communities Act. The bill, which received Royal assent in March, includes new mandatory minimum sentences for various offences, the elimination of conditional sentences for some crimes, and harsher penalties for violent young offenders.

The bill “undermines the independence of the courts and the fundamental principles of our criminal justice system,” Plourde said in a statement.

Plourde, a litigation and financial services partner in the Montreal office of Heenan Blaikie LLP, took over the presidency from Louis Masson on June 9 following a ceremony at the barreau’s annual congress. He previously served as president of the Montreal Bar between 2009 and 2010, and was also president of the Young Bar Association of Montreal between 1997 and 1998.

Plourde also promised a review of the barreau’s compensation fund, which handles claims of misappropriation by lawyers, but does not cover damages resulting from fraud. He intends to raise limits on the fund, which currently caps compensation at $50,000 per claim and $250,000 for all claims involving the same lawyer.

Underfunding of the justice system is another area Plourde plans to focus on during his tenure. Despite recent cash injections by the provincial government, he said justice remained the “poor child of our society.”

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