A repeat offender named Jolin-Barrette

A repeat offender named Jolin-Barrette

Minister of Justice Simon Jolin-Barrette/Josie Desmarais/Metro

CHRONICLE – While all eyes were on the occupation of Ottawa, a new attack on the separation of powers occurred in the Old Capital. The kind that, in a self-respecting state of law, would make people scream loudly. In the dock, the incorrigible recidivist of the Legault government: Simon Jolin-Barrette. 

Recidivist? Yes, unfortunately.

Like the time he called “preposterous” a Superior Court action to prevent him from destroying 18,000 immigration records under a law… not yet adopted. Defeat, without surprise, of the minister.

Like the time when, in an international kidnapping case, this same Superior Court had to reprimand him severely, to the point of imposing on him, something extremely rare, moral and exemplary damages.

Like the time when, for the first time in the history of the Quebec Charter, he amended it not only without the unanimity of the National Assembly, but also under gag order. 

Like the time when he plastered the derogation to the whole of his bill 96, without being able to justify or legitimize, in a press conference, such a bulldozer maneuver. 

Like the time when he engaged in an arm wrestling, by definition odious, with the Chief Justice of the Court of Quebec on the issue of specialized courts in matters of sexual violence, denying her the freedom to express its opposition during the parliamentary committee held in this regard. 

In short, the yard, no pun intended, is full. Enough, at least, to force the resignation, if not the dismissal, of the zealous minister. Which successor, both at the Quebec and federal levels, has benefited from such immunity after escapades of a similar magnitude? We are still looking. 

However, with the apparent support of a nonchalant or complicit prime minister, who knows, the minister-bully had to continue his work of demolition on the once stronghold of the rule of law.

And how? By adding fuel to an already well-fed fire, the one opposing him to the Chief Justice of the Court of Quebec, this time regarding the bilingualism of the judges. 

The obvious is, however, visible to the naked eye: the Court has an obligation to offer a hearing in English if an accused requests it. And as the Chief Justice herself mentions: “We are often not able to know in which language people will appear in court. They don't make a date until they get arrested!” 

Jolin-Barrette's stubbornness in not responding adequately to this request clearly affects both the principle of judicial independence and that of compliance with applicable constitutional obligations.

The Minister's response? 

This: “Quebecers have the right to be heard in their language; there is no doubt about it.”

Incredible. A BILINGUAL judge, in QUEBEC, who does not speak… FRENCH? It's heavy, this constant, serious bad faith. 

Still in response to the judge's criticism, he continues: “It’s not a question of judicial independence.” < /p>

In a recent decision, the Superior Court, under the pen of the Honorable Christian Immer, disagreed with this new stupidity of the Minister of Justice. 

Because yes, imagine , the psychorigid posture of the main interested party came to provoke the unusual, if not the iconoclastic: a lawsuit in good and due form brought by the chief judge. 

As her request specifies, she is forced “to urgently request the intervention of this Court because the opinions disregard the needs of the Court of Quebec expressed by the Chief Justice for certain judicial positions at the Court, and this , following illegal interference by the Minister of Justice”. 

Virulent, Judge Immer effectively concluded that the intervention was illegal, and added: “The Minister of Justice has no power over the drafting of notices of selection of candidates for the office of judge at the Court of Quebec.” 

He then breaks five specific notices in which the requests of the Chief Justice have not been complied with, due to the Minister’s intervention.

Very beautiful. But the best, or rather the worst, is yet to come. 

Being grilled in the House by Gaétan Barrette, Jolin-Barrette replies the following pearl: “If my intentions are good, as Minister of Justice, it is acceptable that I can commit… illegal acts.”

Lawyers will have been struck off for less. 

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