Hearing date set for judge implicated in political financing scandal

A Canadian Judicial Council hearing into the conduct of Quebec Superior Court Justice Michel Déziel will begin March 10.

At least six days of public hearings have been scheduled before an inquiry committee sitting at the Federal Court building in Montreal.

 Déziel is facing allegations  that back in 1997, when he was a lawyer and an organizer for a party involved in a municipal election, he asked Gilles Cloutier to convert $30,000 into political contributions of $750 each.

The donations were allegedly for the Action civique de Blainville party. Cloutier, who worked for an engineering firm, made the allegations in 2013 during testimony at the Charbonneau Inquiry into municipal corruption in the province.

The judicial council initially announced in May 2013 that it was conducting a review of the allegations. A review panel concluded in April 2014 that a full inquiry committee should be constituted.

An amended notice of allegations from the judicial council states Déziel has denied the allegations made by Cloutier. Certain facts though, were acknowledged, the notice states. Déziel admits he acted as an intermediary to transfer between $30,000 and $40,000 from an engineering firm and he does not believe the municipal party disclosed these funds. As well, at the time, personal contributions were limited to $750 and corporations were not permitted to make such donations.

If  Déziel is found to have engaged in conduct he knew would contravene municipal elections laws, the amended notice says it could support a finding that he has been “incapacitated or disabled from the due execution of the office of judge,” under the federal Judges Act.

The chairman of the inquiry committee is Court of Appeal of New Brunswick Chief Justice Ernest Drapeau. The other members are Glenn Joyal, chief justice of the Court of Queen’s Bench in Manitoba and Moncton lawyer Rene Basque.

Suzanne Gagné has been retained as the independent counsel to present the case against Déziel to the committee.

 Déziel was appointed in November 2003 to the Superior Court to preside in Laval.

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