An Ottawa Defence Lawyer’s Involvement in the Gomery Inquiry

OTTAWA PUBLIC INQUIRY LAWYER – Half a decade has passed since John Gomery completed his report of recommendations following the famous Gomery Inquiry.

The Gomery Inquiry was set up in 2004 with the purpose of investigating a Liberal government program which had been set up to provide Quebec with certain concessions following the province’s separation referendum. The program, some suspected, was allowing certain Quebec companies to collect government money without any set projects to spend it on.

This was the type of inquiry, then, that holds the government under scrutiny and attempts to determine whether any wrongdoing took place. It was a complicated affair, with a long list of high-profile witnesses, including former prime ministers, former public servants, and the ruling Conservative government of that time.

Those witnesses wanted to deliver the most effective testimony possible in order to protect the credibility of the Liberal government that was being questioned. That’s why they enlisted the legal counsel of some of Ottawa’s top lawyers specializing in administrative and criminal law.

Throughout the Gomery Inquiry I served as the counsel for Charles Guité, a former public servant who was called to testify before the commission. This was a unique opportunity, and I was able to:

  • Fight to ensure the fairness of Mr. Guité’s separate criminal trial.
  • Make sure that Mr. Guité was questioned properly and fairly throughout all the proceedings.
  • Provide insightful and accurate information to media sources such as the National Post and CTV.

This is the role lawyers often play when they are asked to participate in public inquiries. The main goal is to ensure that the witness’s testimony is effective, and takes place in a fair hearing.

Former Prime Minister Jean Chretien walked away from the Gomery Inquiry without anyone being able to conclude that he had knowingly overseen government corruption. Rather, Gomery’s final report indicated that the sponsorship program had been managed irresponsibly, and recommended additional measures to ensure the fairness of similar programs in the future.

Chretien also took issue with how he was referred to in certain parts of Gomery’s report – a battle that he took all the way to the Federal Court of Appeal. The court ruled in favour of Chretien, and the report passages in question were struck down and removed.

Are you being called to appear at a public inquiry, or are you involved in a different type of administrative law proceeding? It’s important that you get in touch with a top public inquiry lawyer who can help represent and advise you during the process. For more information, contact the Ottawa public inquiry lawyers at Auger Hollingsworth by email [email protected] or by phone at (613) 233-4529.

Spotlight on Non-Fiction: “Inside Gomery”

OTTAWA CRIMINAL DEFENCE LAWYERS – Over the years I have found myself involved with a number of public inquiries and high-profile criminal trials in Ontario. The Gomery Inquiry of 2005 was one of the most complicated inquiries I’ve had the pleasure of taking part in.

The Gomery Inquiry, named after Justice John Gomery who presided over the commission, was established to look for facts surrounding the Sponsorship Scandal, and get more information on the events of 1994-2004 which led to suspicion that the Liberal party had been spending public money irresponsibly.

Francois Perreault’s excellent book Inside Gomery has a couple of interesting sections detailing my involvement – along with many other lawyers – in aiding key witnesses. Here is a quote from Chapter Six of the book:

“After a few weeks, it became easy to recognize the celebrities, even for those watching the proceedings on television. Pierre Fournier, representing Alfonso Gagliano, ex-minister and ex-ambassador; Guy Pratte, representing Jean Pelletier, ex-chief of staff for an ex-prime minister; Richard Auger, representing Charles (“Chuck”) Guité, an ex-public servant; Peter Doody, representing the ex-prime minister; and finally, Sylvain Lussier, representing the current government. What an impressive lineup! These men were champions of the law profession […] They showed remarkable skill and perseverance in handling their arguments, and they impressed me greatly.”

I am humbled to have been recognized in this list of Canada’s top lawyers.

Are you getting ready to participate in a Canadian public inquiry, as a witness or otherwise? It’s important to call a top public inquiry lawyer who can help you determine how to proceed. For more information, contact the Ottawa lawyers at Auger Hollingsworth by email [email protected] or by phone at (613) 233-4529.