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Results: 1 - 15 of 382
View Réal Ménard Profile
BQ (QC)
Thank you for coming this afternoon.
I would say with the greatest of respect that I was very disappointed by your testimony. I hope that your opinions aren't shared by most legal experts.
First, I refuse to disassociate competency and bilingualism.
View Réal Ménard Profile
BQ (QC)
This is not a point of order, and you will ask your question at your turn. Now it's my turn.
View Réal Ménard Profile
BQ (QC)
As I was saying, sir, I'm disappointed in your opinion and I hope that it is not shared by most legal experts. I refuse to accept that there's no connection between competency and knowledge, on the one hand, and bilingualism, on the other. Mr. Godin pointed out in his testimony that the requirement to be bilingual applied to courts within federal jurisdiction. Therefore if this requirement applies to judges in federal courts that are lower than the Supreme Court, I would think that as parliamentarians we are justified in thinking that it should also apply to Supreme Court judges.
I do not know why you haven't learned French and I don't judge that, but as parliamentarians, it is our duty to say that if Mr. Godin's bill is passed, then all those in the legal profession in Canada who want to be accepted on the bench and be given higher levels of responsibility, in the Supreme Court, for example, will have to learn French, whether they come from Alberta, Prince Edward Island, Saskatchewan or elsewhere. If, in your case, that requirement had existed, then maybe you would have made the effort to learn French.
I think that Mr. Godin's bill sends a very clear message to the next generation of people of the legal profession. I do not question at all your legal knowledge and I do not doubt that you have served the Supreme Court well, but if that message had been clearer when you were studying law, then perhaps you would have made the effort to learn French.
I would like to hear your opinion on that.
View Réal Ménard Profile
BQ (QC)
I am not sure what leads you to think that the majority of lawyers would not agree with the requirement under this bill. I would like you to tell me what you base your statement on.
Furthermore, I will say again with all due respect, that I refuse to support your logic, which I think is flawed. You can't disconnect knowledge and bilingualism. Competency can be strengthened and increased by bilingualism. I refuse to think that it has to be a choice. How many bilingual judges currently sit on the Supreme Court? We've been told there are 8 bilingual judges. With the exception of Judge Rothstein, the other judges are bilingual. There is no disassociation. We don't have to choose between bilingualism and competency. We have to send a message to all lawyers in training that competency includes bilingualism. There is no disconnect between the two.
View Réal Ménard Profile
BQ (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair. It is a pleasure to welcome the commissioner. I am extremely pleased, not to say euphoric, to have heard your testimony, because I was a bit — and I say this with all due respect — disappointed by the previous witness.
I believe that our colleague, Mr. Godin's, bill, is essential in order to send a clear message. It will help prepare the next generation of jurists by informing them of the rules of the game. In our legal system, people do not compete for seats on the Supreme Court, they are appointed. Partisan considerations might sometimes be taken into account, but there is no doubt that the Supreme Court is composed of highly skilled justices. Future members of the judiciary will know that the knowledge of our two official languages will be one of the factors used to assess competency. That is extremely important.
I was somewhat surprised. A colleague whose name I will not mention asked a question earlier that might be of concern to you in your role of commissioner. He asked the justice whether, to his knowledge, complaints had already been filed concerning the use of French before the Supreme Court. With all due respect to the previous witness and his former position, he did not seem to take the matter very seriously.
As the commissioner, are you able to tell us of any representations that were made to you by members of the legal community, regarding the lack of linguistic ability of some justices? I understand that this is a sensitive area, but have you already received complaints in that regard?
View Réal Ménard Profile
BQ (QC)
That really is very interesting.
I was a member of the special committee that questioned Justice Rothstein. I asked him a question with my customary elegance and courteousness, as I am incapable of being malicious. He said he would learn French, but I do not think that the workload of a Supreme Court justice makes for ideal conditions to learn a second language. That is why it is better to learn earlier than later.
Do you share my point of view?
View Réal Ménard Profile
BQ (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
View Réal Ménard Profile
BQ (QC)
Welcome. I know that you have many years of experience, but I am a little surprised by your testimony. You have practised in this area. You have been asked in your capacity as a professional to defend members of criminal organizations. Of course, I am not holding that against you, but we must all remain aware of the fact that this is the point of view from which you are testifying here today.
Further, I think that you should carefully reread the brief which was presented by Mr. Randall Richmond from the Bureau de lutte au crime of the Department of Justice of Quebec, and the brief presented by the RCMP. On this committee, we don't feel it is normal, as far as criminal organizations are concerned, that if a trial takes place in Manitoba, Saskatchewan or New Brunswick, it must be proven in every case that the individuals involved are indeed members of a criminal organization. If it was possible to avoid this, the Crown would save a lot of time and resources. In short, that is our objective.
You did not mention the second objective at all, which concerns intimidation. In the course of the trial held in Ontario, the judge pointed out that a member of the Hells Angels had left his wallet on a bike which he had ridden during a rally, and that because the Hells Angels are so intimidating, he did not even need to fear that his wallet would be stolen.
By declaring that these groups are outlaws, we want to ensure that they become less intimidating and less terrorizing to society. Of course, I believe that modalities will be applied. There will have to be a certain number of trials and the list will have to be established based on modalities which respect certain principles. I believe that in establishing such a list, you are dealing rather quickly with the committee's objectives. I imagine that your professional background explains that to some extent.
I will give you the opportunity to reply. I will then have other questions for you. In fact, I would ask you to say hello to your daughter for me.
View Réal Ménard Profile
BQ (QC)
In the course of the testimony we heard, some witnesses explained that, with regard to the three trials involving the Hells Angels, the judges were not satisfied with affidavits only, and had asked for evidence linking the individuals to the organization. You said that affidavits are sufficient, but based on what we were told affidavits alone did not satisfy the judges. If that had been an option, it certainly would have been used. However, the decisions we were quoted do not correspond to what you are telling this committee.
View Réal Ménard Profile
BQ (QC)
Do I have enough time left to ask a brief question?
Let's talk about compatibility with the charter. This is in fact the type of information we were hoping to get from you. You said that it is not necessary to reach the objectives, but do you anticipate any problems with regard to compatibility with the charter?
I would be interested in hearing your views on this matter.
View Réal Ménard Profile
BQ (QC)
Mr. Burstein, I understand some of your concerns. To some extent, you are answering our question when you say that the Crown needed six months in order to demonstrate that individuals had ties to organized crime during the trial you mentioned. The prosecutors came here to tell us the same thing. Law enforcement agencies are concerned about these delays.
The committee could make a proposal. It could suggest, for example, that there be a list of criminal organizations, because I believe that there needs to be a framework. A criminal organization could be put on the list if three different courts have ruled that it is a criminal organization under sections 467.11, 467.12 and 467.13, and the list would be submitted to parliamentarians for their consideration and it could be subject to a review. Would those guidelines reassure you? This would prevent mistakes from occurring if, for example, three young people were found in a park, but did not belong to a criminal organization, and they were eventually taken to court.
I share your opinion: we need to make a distinction between very organized criminal organizations and groups that would not correspond to the definition set out in section 467.1 of the Criminal Code.
Could this not be done by distinguishing between serious and non-serious offences? I would propose, in particular, that a court of justice hand down three decisions, or that a decision be handed down by three different courts of justice. In the case of the Hells Angels, there were four trials. If the Minister of Justice puts together a list, which is then reviewed by parliamentarians, would that not be something that would satisfy you as a lawyer?
View Réal Ménard Profile
BQ (QC)
You should read Randall Richmond's testimony. You cannot limit yourself to testimony that supports your opinion.
We should not forget that, in 1997, when the government adopted anti-gang legislation, many constitutionalists said that it was illegal. Today, anti-gang legislation is part of the Canadian legal framework, and this has allowed us to put an end to biker gang wars in Montreal.
Your testimony is interesting, but I think there is a way to achieve consensus. I think that you are underestimating the objective in wanting to declare various organizations as criminal. I am not criticizing you for having earned your living from these trials. You are certainly a formidable lawyer, but we are parliamentarians and we need to find a way to ensure public safety, given the real threat that criminal organizations pose.
I would like to convince you of this before you leave.
View Réal Ménard Profile
BQ (QC)
View Réal Ménard Profile
BQ (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
First I want to say to you, Mr. Godin and all of you here today, that you can count on unwavering support from the Bloc Québécois in this battle that you are so honourably waging.
Language is a question of identity. The reason why I think that your bill must be supported and that it should have seen the light of day two or three decades ago, or even when the Supreme Court was established, is that it is not true that one can learn a language late in life. A justice in the Supreme Court is under extraordinary pressure, you can imagine that.
I do not think that if we do not send out a signal very soon saying that all those who aspire to careers as judges, right up to the highest echelons, must know French...
I was present at that committee—Mr. Comartin was there too as well as other members from the party in power, I believe—when we questioned Mr. Rothstein, whose expertise in the legal matters cannot be challenged. He did not know French. I asked him a question as a francophone who is interested in these issues. Even if the Supreme Court does not hear as many civil law causes as it hears common law cases, it seemed inconceivable to me that someone could be a Supreme Court justice and not know French. Therefore, I asked him if he would take on the obligation of learning French. He said that he would. Without questioning his good faith and without dragging him before the Supreme Court for perjury or for misleading information, I would be curious to know, at this time, how far he has gotten with carrying out this obligation to be fluent in French.
The merit of Mr. Godin's bill is that we must—and I hope that all the parties in the House will support it—in law faculties next year, let it be known that anyone who wants to become a justice in the higher courts, must be fluent in both languages, and know French.
It is an absolute illusion to think that if this obligation is not enshrined in law, large numbers of legal professionals will recognize that they have such an obligation.
You have our unflinching support. In life, there are times when we need to convince and there are times when we need to constrain. Your bill must be a constraining bill? I would be very disappointed if the House did not support you unanimously, for as a francophone, you have a right to expect that.
And let me ask, Mr. Godin or any other person who would like to answer, what are the arguments of those who oppose your bill. I cannot imagine that this House will not be unanimous on a bill like this one.
View Réal Ménard Profile
BQ (QC)
Do I have time to put a brief question, Mr. Chair?
The Chair: Yes.
Mr. Réal Ménard: Could one of you who pleaded before the Supreme Court, perhaps tell us, with all due respect for Justice Rothstein, if we have any information saying that he has learned French? Does anyone know?
Results: 1 - 15 of 382 | Page: 1 of 26

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