In the midst of the sponsorship scandal in the spring of 2004, Jean Pelletier was abruptly fired as chairman of Via Rail after he made comments about the former Olympic biathlon champion Myriam Bédard.
Since then, Ms. Bédard's reputation has dimmed after a series of controversies while Mr. Pelletier, a confidant of former Liberal prime minister Jean Chrétien, is getting a series of vindicating court decisions.
In the latest judicial victory for Mr. Pelletier, a judge ordered Ottawa and Via Rail yesterday to pay him $335,000 in damages, because he was improperly dismissed from Via Rail.
In a 45-page ruling, Madam Justice Hélène Langlois of Quebec Superior Court, said the government of Mr. Chrétien's successor, Paul Martin, had acted in a "cavalier and precipitous" fashion when it ousted Mr. Pelletier.
Already, the Federal Court and the Federal Court of Appeal had ruled that the Martin government didn't follow proper procedures when it got rid of Mr. Pelletier.
"That behaviour doesn't meet the standard of diligence expected from a contractor when a contractual relationship is ended," Judge Langlois wrote in the latest decision. "It shows a total lack of consideration."
Judge Langlois ruled that the government and Via Rail should repay Mr. Pelletier $235,000 in lost income, plus interest. In addition, Ottawa alone owes him $100,000 in moral damages, the ruling said. Mr. Pelletier had sought $689,000 in financial losses and $3.3-million for moral damages and breach to his reputation.
A long-time chief of staff of Mr. Chrétien, Mr. Pelletier was appointed Via Rail chairman in 2001. He was one of four Chrétien loyalists sacked from jobs at Crown corporations by Mr. Martin's Liberal government during the sponsorship scandal.
Mr. Pelletier's firing happened in March of 2004 when Ms. Bédard, who worked in Via Rail's marketing department, made allegations of misspending at the Crown corporation.
"I don't want to be mean, but this is a poor girl who deserves pity. ... Deep down, I think she is pitiful," Mr. Pelletier told the newspaper La Presse.
The transport minister of the time, Tony Valeri, immediately announced Mr. Pelletier's firing.
The following year, he was ordered reinstated by the Federal Court of Canada, which ruled that the cabinet had denied him due process. However, Mr. Martin's government dismissed Mr. Pelletier a second time. The case went back before the courts.
Earlier this year, the Federal Court of Appeal ruled that the government had wrongfully dismissed Mr. Pelletier. Ottawa is appealing.
Ms. Bédard's credibility, meanwhile, eroded after she told a parliamentary panel that her boyfriend, Nima Mazhari, deserved credit for persuading Mr. Chrétien to keep Canada out of the war in Iraq.
After Mr. Mazhari was charged with art theft, the couple suddenly left for the United States, taking with them Ms. Bédard's daughter from a previous marriage and saying they were fleeing from "Canadian bureaucratic terrorism."
Her absence resulted in her arrest and eventual conviction this fall for kidnapping her daughter in violation of a custody order.