Quebec judge lambasted by Supreme Court

by Jack Locke

Louis LeBel, Supreme Court justice overturns draconian Quebec ruling

How does an appointed judge of Quebec’s Superior Court impose a publication ban on a journalist, without being requested to do so, in clear violation to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms? And still sit on the bench?

This is what Superior Court Judge Jean-François de Grandpré did to Globe and Mail journalist Daniel Leblanc and La Presse journalist Joël-Denis Bellavance. This week the Supreme Court of Canada reversed the draconian order.

“….Finally, the ban imposed by (Judge) de Grandpré is, if nothing more, clearly overbroad. It is a blanket prohibition, and no indication was given as to when it would expire,” wrote Supreme Court Justice Louis LeBel.

LeBel went further in criticizing the Quebec judge.

“By proceeding in this manner, in a case where there was no suggestion of urgency or delay inherent in hearing submissions that would prejudice either party, de Grandpré J. violated one of the fundamental rules of the adversarial process: he denied the parties an opportunity to be heard before deciding an issue that affected their rights.”

The dialogue between Judge de Grandpré and Mark Bantey, the Globe and Mail lawyer, was reproduced in the Supreme Court’s decision to show the poor quality of judgemanship(translated by the court):

MARK BANTEY:
Then, Mr. Justice, before that, I’m going to have some submissions to make. That . . .

THE COURT:
No, no. That, I . . .

MARK BANTEY:
. . . you’re issuing — Mr. Justice, pardon me, with respect, you’re issuing a publication ban. Before issuing a publication ban, you have to . . .

THE COURT:
It is not a publication ban.

MARK BANTEY:
Mr. Justice, before issuing a publication ban, you have to give us a chance to make submissions.

THE COURT:
What I don’t want to hear and what I don’t want to read in the newspapers is an article like the one that appeared in The Globe and Mail on October 21.

MARK BANTEY:
Mr. Leblanc has an absolute right to publish what he did, Mr. Justice.

THE COURT:
If he does it, he must do it in accordance with the strict letter of the law. In that regard, you’ll inform me when the Court of Appeal has made its decision.

MARK BANTEY:
So, Mr. Justice, just to make sure I understand, you’ve issued a publication ban?

THE COURT:
Yes.

Why the Quebec Court of Appeal refused to overturn Judge de Grandpre’s ruling is equally troubling and should worry all Quebecers.

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