Skip to main content

Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard Dominic LeBlanc rises in the House of Commons during Question Period in Ottawa on June 11, 2018. Earlier this month, The Globe and Mail reported that four of the six judges appointed to the federal bench in New Brunswick in the past eight months have connections to the minister.

Patrick Doyle/The Canadian Press

An advocacy group for government accountability is requesting an investigation into links between federal cabinet minister Dominic LeBlanc and recent judicial appointments.

Earlier this month, The Globe and Mail reported that four of the six judges appointed to the federal bench in New Brunswick in the past eight months have connections to the minister. Three judges named to superior courts in spring and winter made financial contributions of $400 each in 2009 to help pay down slightly more than $31,000 in debt incurred by Mr. LeBlanc in his unsuccessful run for the party leadership.

This followed a report that candidates for federally appointed courts have their names put through the Liberalist, a private party database that tracks party membership and participation in party activities.

Story continues below advertisement

In a letter to Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion, Democracy Watch, a citizens group advocating for government accountability, said an investigation is needed to determine whether Mr. LeBlanc participated in the appointment of any judges he had prior connections with.

Duff Conacher, co-founder of Democracy Watch, said Mr. LeBlanc is in a “real conflict of interest” because of monetary donations three judges gave to his riding association before they were appointed.

“It would be simply negligent for the Ethics Commissioner to ignore a case like this when you’re talking about judges and all the other evidence that’s there," he said.

Mr. Conacher said one of the appointees donated to Mr. LeBlanc’s riding association even while being outside the Beauséjour riding.

If Mr. LeBlanc did participate in the judicial appointments, Democracy Watch said the investigation should consider whether the minister appeared to be in a conflict of interest.

Mr. Conacher said the Conflict of Interest Act, the legislation that governs the ethical conduct of public officials, extends to situations involving an appearance of a conflict of interest. He added that former ethics commissioner Mary Dawson said the act covered appearances of conflicts of interest when the House reviewed the act in 2013.

Rachel Rappaport, press secretary for Justice Minister David Lametti – who appointed the three judges that donated to Mr. LeBlanc – said in an e-mailed statement that judicial appointments are based on merit. Ms. Rappaport said candidates are evaluated by independent judicial advisory committees who make recommendations to the minister. Only candidates reviewed by this committee can be considered at cabinet level, she said.

Story continues below advertisement

Ms. Rappaport also said candidates, like all Canadian citizens, are free to engage in political activities.

“The appointments process neither disqualifies nor privileges an applicant on the basis of political association,” she said.

Democracy Watch is also requesting that Mr. Dion recuse himself from the investigation because he was appointed by the Trudeau cabinet in a “secretive process” that lacked “consultation with opposition parties as required."

The group has already filed an application for judicial review of Mr. Dion’s appointment, which will be heard by the Federal Court of Appeal in the fall.

Jocelyne Brisebois, a spokesperson for Mr. Dion, said in an e-mailed statement that the Commissioner will not recuse himself from any matter based on a request by Democracy Watch.

“[Nor] will he respond publicly to comments made by that organization,” she said.

Story continues below advertisement

Mr. LeBlanc is currently on medical leave from his position as Minister of Intergovernmental and Northern Affairs and Internal Trade while undergoing cancer treatment.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Cannabis pro newsletter