"We can't allow things that are inaccurate to stand." — The Word of Our Dan, February 19, 2008.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Felix piles on

In the Bow-Wow Parliament on Tuesday, Justice Minister Felix Collins characterized, and even elaborated upon, the Premier's recent remarks about Quebec Superior Court judge Clément Gascon:

MR. F. COLLINS: Some of the things though I would be remiss if I did not respond to. One of the remarks he made was to talk about the independence of the judiciary; the right to respect the judiciary, respect their independence and that people should not make comments that are derogatory about the judiciary. He castigated the Premier for remarks he made about a Quebec court judge a few days ago in this House. He did not think it was proper for the Premier, who is a lawyer as well, to make such comments of disrespect, as alluded to by the Opposition House Leader, to that judge.

All I can say to that, Mr. Speaker – and the Premier certainly does not need me to defend him. In my experience in this House, anything that the Premier does or say is always done or said in the best interests of the people of this Province.
SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. F. COLLINS: There is not a more passionate Newfoundlander and Labradorian, a more passionate leader, a more committed leader, a more visionary leader than our Premier. When he makes comments such as he did in this House on the CCAA, judge in Quebec; they were made out of passion and concern and the interests of Newfoundland and Labrador.

I want to just stay on that for a minute, Mr. Speaker. Anybody who read the decision of that judge in the Quebec court, anybody who has a bit of Newfoundland and Labrador blood in them, or anybody with Newfoundland and Labrador pride would have reacted in the same way to that decision. The decision, Mr. Speaker, was very much – in layman’s terms – off the wall and anybody reading the decision –you did not have to be a lawyer to come to that conclusion, that the judge’s biases very clearly came through which resulted in numerous errors in law, in fact, which leads us to apply for leave to appeal.

What the decision did, Mr. Speaker, the Quebec judge is acting under the Federal Statute, which is the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act, the CCAA act, and that is designed to give the company breathing room while it negotiates a restructuring with financing and debts. That is what that law is all about. That statute does not give the Court of Quebec the power to block provincial law, which it did in this decision.

The Province’s decision of the Quebec court was required by the constitution to apply the Province’s laws to Abitibi, not to permit Abitibi to avoid the laws, which is what the decision did. The Quebec judge imposed his own view on what he felt was good environmental laws and the views of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador as his evidence in the Newfoundland and Labrador legislation. This decision means, what it means now and has ramification for all jurisdictions across the country, what this decision means, not just only Newfoundland but that the environmental legislation in effect can be avoided by a company that has been restructured under CCAA. All of these things, Mr. Speaker, smacks of the need to appeal. That is what this government has done. We have not appealed it yet; we have applied for leave to appeal to the Quebec appeal court because that decision is just not right and cannot be accepted by Newfoundland and Labrador.

Mr. Speaker, the fact that the Premier made some disparaging remarks about that decision, I think his remarks are shared by most people in this Province.
For the record, the remarks which most people in the province apparently share were as follows in the Bow-Wow Chamber:

PREMIER WILLIAMS: Mr. Speaker, what she fails to point out is in the appeal which was filed by the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, that the judge, who is the hon. Gascogne, or whatever he is, Gascon or whatever he is, the Great Gatsby or whatever his name is, anyway, at the end of the day is in the Quebec Court, is obviously not too –

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

PREMIER WILLIAMS: I do not care; I could not care about something like (inaudible).

The hon. judge in Quebec obviously has no time for Newfoundland and Labrador, and what he has done has gone beyond his constitutional competence. Because if you read the appeal, which was filed by the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, he did not have the statutory or constitutional competence to do what he did, and he made palpable and overriding errors of fact. You can rely on him if you want to, I would not.
And outside the chamber:
He has preconceived notions as to the propriety of Newfoundland and Labrador seizing its own assets for the good of its people. He’s a judge who is looking at restructuring, he’s trying to keep this company alive. A company that basically was trying to shaft the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. If that’s his priority, well then, so be it. But that doesn’t mean that he can create constitutional rules and regulations. It doesn’t mean he can make palpable errors which is what we’ve indicated in our appeal. So we intend to challenge that decision.



At 8:50 AM, May 12, 2010 , Blogger Ed Hollett said...

Aside from the obvious factual gap between what was seized and what the premier says was seized, is it in the best interests of the people of the province to make oturageous comments that serve only to reinforce the idea that the whole expropriation was a crass abuse of political power?

In other words, what happens if the Premier's overheated outburst serves to undermine his own position?

Is that good?

Does your motivation make it any less painful when - in the heat of the moment you trip over your own feet and smash your face down the stairs beating your puss to a bloody pulp?

Does it hurt any less when that happens just because you were excited at the time?


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