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Paul Journet May 29, 2012
(Québec) Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, accused of contempt of court, risks imprisonment if his accuser presses charges.
As negotiations resume in Québec, the co-spokesperson of the CLASSE appeared in court this morning at the Court of Québec. He is accused of having called for the non-respect of an injunction obtained by a Visual Arts student of the University of Laval, Jean-François Morasse.
He is criticized for these remarks, made to RDI in April: “I believe that it is entirely legitimate for students to take steps to respect the democratic decisions which led to the strike. It is very unfortunate that there is a minority of students who will use the courts to reverse the collective decision that was taken. We find it absolutely legitimate that students take the necessary means to respect the strike vote. And if this requires picket lines, we believe that this is a valid choice to make.”
For this declaration, the minimum sentence would involve community service, or a fine of “some thousands of dollars,” according to M. Maxime Roy Martel, M. Morasse’s lawyer. But he hopes for a more severe penalty. “If [Nadeau-Dubois] is found guilty, I expect to call for his imprisonment,” he announced. The maximum penalty is one year. “I could ask for several months, because contempt is a very serious act. He [Nadeau-Dubois] is a public figure, who has incited others to disrespect the order of the Court. And this call to disobedience is wide-reaching, because he is so often in the media.”
M. Nadeau-Dubois is represented by M. Giuseppe Sciortino, who has defended the CLASSE on multiple occasions throughout the conflict. He offers a “discount” to the student association, who are paying for their spokesperson’s defense. The CLASSE has declined to comment further on the case as of yesterday.
M. Morasse acted alone in making his demand for the injunction. His legal fees cost him about $500. It was thanks to “certain donors” that he was able to pay these fees, he told La Presse.
A Donor to the PLQ
M. Morasse asked the Québec Bar to help him find a lawyer. M. Roy Martel, whom he did not know previously, volunteered to work the case for free. From 2009 to 2011, the young lawyer has given $1785 to the Liberal Party of Québec. These donations were made after the entry into politics of Michel Pigeon, former principal of the University of Laval. He wished to “help” this man, whom he knew “quite well” and for whom he has “the greatest respect.” M. Roy Martel has stated that he is not going after the CLASSE’s spokesperson for political reasons. “I am doing this out of my conviction for the primacy of the law,” he explained. “In this situation, we have done the opposite. People believe that these injunctions are poorly founded, and yet chose to violate them rather than appeal them. As a lawyer, I find this shocking.” The hearings, with oral arguments, are set to begin in July.
The “Nadeau-Dubois” Clause
A clause of the special law (Law 78) adopted on the 18th of May to restrict the right to protest is directly linked to this litigation. Section 31 of this controversial law makes a provision for the removal of injunctions. However, it specifies that this “is not to prevent demands for condemnation for contempt of court from being made or continued.”
This clause targets only one appeal: that filed against the co-spokesperson of the CLASSE. The Parti Québécois has baptized it the “Nadeau-Dubois Clause”. “Once again, the liberals are targeting me,” M. Nadeau-Dubois concluded.
Translated from the original French by Translating the printemps érable.
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