Friends in high places: Friends and family of Liberal MP Dominic LeBlanc have done very well with judicial appointments. Though the office of the federal justice minister insist that all such appointments are made on the basis of merit, some are wondering whether one of the criteria to be considered a serious option involves being in close quarters with LeBlanc.
Over the last year, five of six judicial vacancies in the minister’s home province of New Brunswick have been filled by people who had personal connections with him.
Though some may think that blatantly appointing those closely link to an MPs personal life would be too myopic a move to pull off, it’s now being reported by the CBC that that is exactly what has taken place in our nation’s third smallest province.
Five out of six. That is the number of federal appointments that have gone to those near Leblanc. The relationships vary in nature. Of them is Leblanc’s neighbour, one is a family friend, and three are lawyers who each aided in retiring Leblanc’s debts from failed leadership bids more than a decade ago.
Last month, New Brunswick announced its latest judicial appointments, in which David Lametti—the federal Justice Minister—named Robert M. Dysart and Arthur T. Doyle to the trial division of the Court of Queen’s Bench.
Dysart is listed as a regular donor to the Liberal Party, according to data found by the CBC via Elections Canada.
Doyle also appears as a regular donor to the Liberal Party. The donations aren’t just to the Liberals, but more specifically they include donations to LeBlanc’s Beausejour riding, despite the fact that Doyle lives over 100 kilometres away.
Doyle and Dysart make up two of fifty donors who aided in retiring LeBlanc’s $31,000 debt, a debt which was racked up over a decade ago in 2008 which stemmed from his failed Liberal leadership campaign, according to records filed with Elections Canada.
And the roots go deeper than just Doyle and Dysart. Charles LeBlond and Jacques Pinet, two Moncton-based lawyers also had apparent favours thrown their way. After aiding LeBlanc with his campaign debts, LaBlond won an appointment to be a judge on the Court of Appeal in March.
Pinet on the other hand is linked under different circumstances. Pinet is married to Justice Tracey DeWare, who was named New Brunswick’s chief justice by Justin Trudeau early last month.
Pinet is married to Justice Tracey DeWare. She was named New Brunswick’s chief justice by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in early June. DeWare herself was a Conservative Party donor, and was originally appointed to the bench 7 years ago by the Conservative government at that time, DeWare and Pinet are also neighbours of LeBlanc. The couple purchased a seaside property in Grande-Digue from LeBlanc which sat next to LeBlanc’s summerhouse.
And lastly, Moncton family lawyer Marie-Claude Belanger-Richard was selected to fill a judicial vacancy in Saint John. Belanger-Richard is married to LeBlanc’s brother-in-law.
According to the CBC, Belanger-Richard was the only one out of the five justices who responded to their attempts to get a statement about the newly unearthed web that LeBlanc is in the centre of. She declined to comment.
LeBlanc’s office deflected the request, and referred questions about judicial appointments to Lametti.
After Lametti’s office declined an interview with the CBC, his press secretary Rachel Rappaport issued a statement which aimed to clear the air, denying any wrongdoing or favouritism in the New Brunswick appointments.
“All judicial appointments are made on the basis of merit,” said Rappaport. “As with all Canadian citizens, judicial candidates are free to engage personally in political activities. The appointments process neither disqualifies nor privileges an applicant on the basis of political association.”
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