Former Quebec justice minister Marc Bellemare has made some serious allegations about the appointment of judges in Quebec. Most damaging is his testimony that Premier Jean Charest instructed him to appoint three judges at the behest of Liberal Party fundraisers. And, what's most worrisome for Mr. Charest, a series of polls indicate that most Quebeckers believe Mr. Bellemare's version of events and discount his denials.
However, in a recent editorial, The Globe and Mail advised its readers to suspend judgement until all the evidence is in. Good advice. Yet, if you've been getting your news in English, here's some of what you would have missed last week, courtesy of Le Journal columnist Richard Martineau:
"I'm not questioning Marc Bellemare's honesty, but can one ask some questions about his testimony without being accused of being a Liberal Party reactionary?"
Here's a man who, according to his office colleagues, always took notes during meetings.
And yet Mr. Bellemare, who supposedly was pressured by the PM when he was justice minister, did not make a note of it in his notebook? And he did not tell ANYONE about his discussion with Mr. Charest, not even his chief of staff or his press secretary? Only months later did he scribble some notes on the back of a note-pad while half-watching a hockey game?
Sorry, but I have a hard time swallowing that…All the more so because, as you and I know, lawyers make a note of everything…the briefest telephone call, the most unremarkable meeting…
Seems to me that if I were the minister of justice and the prime minister ordered me to appoint so-and-so to the bench (while telling me to keep my mouth shut about it), the first thing I'd have done when I got back to my office would have been to discuss it with my close advisers and to write it all down. I would not have waited months before putting my recollections down on paper.
You don't find that strange?"