Michel Bastarache

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Former Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada Michel Bastarache was retained by the Diocese of Bathurst and Archdiocese of Moncton New Brunswick respectively to reach out to and negotiate/conciliate financial settlements with victims of clerical sexual abuse.

Bastarche “Conciliation” deals


17 January 2017:  Blame tough lives of priests’ victims on economy, not abuse, says church

11 December 2015:  Diocese of Moncton suing Co-Operators Insurance for $4.2M

10 December 2015:  Pedophile priests: the diocese of Moncton has disbursed $ 12 million (Google translation with French text)

09 December 2015:  “Diocese of Bathurst wants Aviva Insurance to pay $3.3M” & related article

03 December 2015:  “Victims of sexual abuse by clergy opened up to Michel Bastarache” & related article

08 April 2013:  Conciliation Process Ends

10 December 2010:  Former Supreme Court Justice Michel Bastarache to John MacDonald on ‘duty to report’

09 December 2010: Michel Bastarache letter to Jean Guy Theriault

1989-1994: Past President and CEO of Assumption Mutual Life Insurance company.

 Booklet: Century of Assertion (The First One Humdred Years of Assumption Life 1903-2003

Above in French:  Un Siecle d`affirmation   Assomption Vie

Articles re Assumption Mutual Life Insurance

1997:  Judging the Judges: Canada’s Newest Supreme Court Judge: Hon. Michel Bastarache



29 January 2013:  BLOG  What progress if any?

05 January 2013:BLOG  Tangled web

18 June 2012: BLOG A “mystery”?

11 June 2012: BLOG  Deflecting from the subject at hand

07 June 2012: BLOG  “Child offender”?

04 June 2012: BLOG The victims are unwitting pawns

01 June 2012: BLOG  “Rumours”

29 March 2012: BLOG  Well suited and chosen

07 April 2011: BLOG  “man of highest standards and excellent character”

07 December 2010: BLOG  Something`s amiss

06 December 2010: BLOG Perhaps today?

02 December 2010: BLOG Why the silence?

02 December 2010:  BLOG Hoping

30 November 2010: BLOG They`re not all financially bereft

29 November 2010: BLOG A Win/Win for the diocese

 12 November 2010: BLOG Look at the tap dancing!

11 November 2012:  BLOG  Robbing Peter

08 November 2010: BLOG Duty to report

04 November 2010: BLOG Some thoughts

30 October 2010:  BLOG Why the reluctance?

28 October 2010: BLOG What’s wrong with us?


05 June 2012:  announcement that Mr. Bastarache has been retained to conduct a conciliation process in Archdiocese of Moncton, New Brunswick. (Andre Richard was Archbishop of Moncton when announcement made, but was retiring.  Bathurst Bishop Valery Vienneau was appointed Archbishop of Moncton 15 June 2012 and installed 29 August).  Initially word was that the process was for victims of Cap Pelee’s Father Camille Leger– in short order all victims of clerical sexual abuse were invited to contact Mr. Bastarache.

 April 2010 – January 2011:   “The Bastarache Inquiry”  – concluded that there was insufficient evidence to prove that Quebec Premier Jean Charest had rigged the judicial nomination process in the province

March or April 2010:  Hired by Diocese of Bathurst, New Brunswick to contact and negotiate settlements with victims of clerical sexual abuse in the diocese. Valery Vienneau was Bishop of Moncton at the time.

December 2009-March 2011:  Hired by PEI government and commenced a review of French language services in the province of Prince Edward Island.  The report was to be completed by March 2011.  Cost $100,000.

April 2010:  Announcement that Mr. Bastarache was hired by Diocese of Moncton, New Brunswick to track down and compensate victims

2008: Joined Ottawa office of law firm Heenan Blaikie (Jean Chretien had served with the firm since 2004)

30 June 2008:  Retired from the Supreme Court of Canada at age 60. (Retirement age for justices of the Supreme Court is 75)

2004-2008: Vice-Chair of the National Judicial Institute

1997:  Appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada (Jean Chretien Prime Minister)

Judging the Judges: Canada’s Newest Supreme Court Judge: Hon. Michel Bastarache

1995:  Appointed to the New Brunswick Court of Appeal

1994: With law firm Stewart McKelvey Stirling Scales

1989-1994: President and CEO of Assumption Mutual Life

1992:  Co-chair of the federal `yes`committee on the Charlottetown Accord

1987: Joined law firm Lang Michener Lash Johnston and became partner in firm in 1988

1984-1987: Associate Dean of the Common Law section of the University of Ottawa.

1986:  Called to the Bar in Ontario

1985: Called to the Bar in Alberta

1983-1984: Director General for the Promotion of Official Languages in the Department of the Secretary of State of Canada

1980-1983: Dean of University of Moncton Law School

1980:  Called to the Bar in New Brunswick

1976: Vice-President Marketing Assumption Mutual Life

 1978: LL.B. University of Ottawa, Ontario

Law professor at University of Moncton

1974-1977: Vice President and Director of Marketing Assumption Mutual Life Insurance Company

1975: Director Sales Assumption Mutual Life,

1974: Assistant to the President of Assumption Mutual Life Insurance Company ,  – appointed Vice President and Director of Marketing (1974-1977) (Gilbert Finn was President and CEO from 1969-1980.  He was appointed Lieutenant Governor of New Brunswick 1987-1994, )

1973: General Secretary for the Société des Acadiens et Acadiennes du Nouveau-Brunswick

1972:  D.ES.. (Public Law), University of Nice

1970-71: legal translator for the Province of New Brunswick

1970: LL.L University of Montreal, Quebec

1967: B.A. University of Moncton, NB

10 June 1947:  Born, Quebec City, Quebec


Conciliator enlisted to help address complaints

Telegraph-Journal, Saint John New Brunswick

05 June 2012

Shawn Berry, Legislature Bureau

The archdiocese of Moncton has enlisted former Supreme Court judge Michel Bastarache to act as a conciliator with individuals who say they were victims of a former priest.

The name and picture of the late Rev. Camille Leger were stripped from the Cap-Pele arena earlier this year amidst claims that he abused boys in the community while he served as the parish priest.

In a letter to parishioners over the weekend, Msgr. Andre Richard, archbishop of Moncton, announced Bastarache would lead conciliation efforts.

“I am quite pleased that Mr. Bastarache has accepted this mandate. His sense of justice and his privileged knowledge of the people in our community and our province will enable us, I am convinced, to redress the harm attributed to Camille Leger.”

Bastarache is tasked with setting up and manage a conciliation process for those who have complaints regarding the behaviour of the late Rev. Camille Leger, a former priest of the parish of Cap-Pele.

The bishop said the process will be entirely confidential and independent from the archdiocese.

Richard said the purpose is to allow persons with complaints to come forward without fear of their issues becoming public, without the expense of involving lawyers, and to allow for a speedy resolution of any claims they may have.

Apprised of the situation back in March, Richard immediately took steps to afford counselling services to anyone who presented themselves as a victim of abuse of a sexual nature.

The Beausejour Family Crisis Centre has been offering this service since the beginning of April.

“We wish to followup to this first initiative by offering alleged victims a means of finding interior peace and renewal with the Church. These persons feel betrayed by the behaviour of their alleged abusers,” Richard wrote in his letter.

Leger, who died in 1990 at the age of 76, was never convicted of any crime. He served as a priest in the community from 1957 to 1980.

Bastarache, who served on Canada’s highest court for more than a decade, also acted as a conciliator for the Diocese of Bathurst in 2010.

In November of that year, the Roman Catholic diocese of Bathurst agreed to offer financial settlements and formal apologies to 35 sexual assault victims following a report filed by Bastarache.

Reached on Monday, Norbert Gaudet, a former Cap-Pele municipal councillor whose public declaration at a council meeting earlier this year that he was abused by Leger led councillors to vote to change the name, said he didn’t want to comment on Bastarache’s appointment.

“We accomplished what we set out to do,” he said.

Gaudet spoke out after his fellow councillors voted last March to send the question to a municipal plebiscite.

On March 10 and 11, Richard attended church services in the Cap-Pele area and asked for forgiveness from a number of local men who said they had been sexually abused by Leger. The next Monday, council held an extraordinary meeting and voted to remove the name, something that local firefighters and residents proceeded to do that night.

All individuals who claim to have been a victim of sexual abuse attributable to Camille Leger and wish to present a claim are requested to contact Bastarache before June 30.

He can be reached by telephone at 1-855-752-0172 or by email at mbastarache@conciliationmoncton.ca.


Viscount Bennett Lecture: Hon. Michel Bastarache

(University of New Brunswick, Fredericton, New Brunswick) Undated.

BastaracheOn November 12th, the Hon. Michel Bastarache, former justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, delivered this year’s Viscount Bennett Lecture. The title of the lecture was “How Internationalization of the Law Has Materialized in Canada”.

The Viscount Bennett Lecture was established under the terms of the will of Viscount Bennett of Mickleham, Calgary and Hopewell. Born at Hopewell Cape, Richard Bedford Bennett (1870-1947) had a long and distinguished career as lawyer, politician and statesman, serving as prime minister from 1930 to 1935. In 1941 he was raised to the peerage of the United Kingdom. In commemoration of Viscount Bennett’s life and career, this Lecture Series promotes greater appreciation of the role of law in contemporary society.

This year’s lecturer, the Honourable Michel Bastarache, received his education at the Université de Moncton (B.A), Université de Montreal (LL. L.), University of Ottawa (LL. B.) and the Université de Nice (graduate degree in public law). He was called to the New Brunswick Bar in 1980, the Alberta Bar in 1985, and the Ontario Bar in 1986.

Over the course of his career, Michel Bastarache has held positions in academia, government, business, and the judiciary. In 1978, he joined the Université de Moncton as a Law Professor and then became the Dean of that Law School from 1980 to 1983. After acting as the Director General for the Promotion of Official Languages in the Department of the Secretary of State of Canada, he joined the Faculty of Law at the University of Ottawa and from 1984 to 1987, he acted as the Associate Dean of the Common Law section of that Faculty. In 1987, he turned to the practice of law joining the firm of Lang Michener Lash Johnston and becoming a partner in 1988. He returned to New Brunswick in 1989 to become the president and Chief Executive Officer of Assumption Mutual Life. In 1994, he returned to the practice of law at the Moncton office of Stewart McKelvey Stirling Scales. He was appointed to the New Brunswick Court of Appeal in 1995 and was promoted to the Supreme Court of Canada in 1997. During this period, he wrote more than 150 judgments and from 2004-2008, he acted as Vice-Chair of the National Judicial Institute. He retired from the Supreme Court on June 30th 2008. He is currently counsel at the firm of Heenan Blaikie.

Michel Bastarache is the author of a number of articles and books including the very recently published The Law of Bilingual Interpretation (2008) and acted as Editor in Chief of the Canadian Bar Review from 1998-2005. He has received honourary doctorates in law from a number of academic institutions including the University of New Brunswick, LL.D. (Hon.) 2007; the University of Moncton, LL.D. (Hon.) 1998, Dalhousie Law School, LL.D. (Hon.), 1998; and Ottawa University, LL.D. (Hon.) 1998. He has received a number of awards recognizing his contributions to the field of law and language rights including the medal marking the 125th anniversary of the Université de Montreál’s Faculty of Law in 2003, the Officier de la Légion d’honneur (France) 2003, and the Prix Boréal, Fédération des communautés francophones et acadiennes du Canada, 1995.


Church offers settlement for abuse

National Post

23 April 2010

Former Supreme Court justice Michel Bastarache wants to meet with people who were sexually victimized by clergy in Bathurst, N.B., to offer compensation on behalf of the diocese. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Bathurst hired Judge Bastarache a few weeks ago to track down victims of sexual abuse. The Ottawa-based lawyer says the diocese is trying to address the issue of compensation now, rather than wait until it comes in the form of a lawsuit. “They understand it’s more or less unavoidable that these things would go to court unless there was some action taken,” Judge Bastarache said. Levi Noel, 83, a former parish priest, was sentenced to eight years in prison in January for committing sexual offences against young boys. Noel pleaded guilty to 22 sexual offences committed between 1958 and 1981. Judge Bastarache said there are at least 18 victims connected to Noel.


Former justice to negotiate abuse settlements

Telegraph-Journal (Saint John, New Brunswick)

21 April 2010

Shingler, Benjamin. Telegraph-Journal

Last year, a historic class-action settlement compensated dozens of alleged victims of sexual abuse by Roman Catholic priests in Nova Scotia after a lawsuit was filed against the Antigonish diocese and Halifax archdiocese.

The Diocese of Bathurst is planning to offer compensation to victims of clergy sexual abuse, and has asked former Supreme Court justice Michel Bastarache to negotiate a settlement.

Bathurst Bishop Valery Vienneau said in a statement the diocese recognizes the suffering experienced by victims of abuse and wants to help resolve the issue.

“Many victims have rightly called for the diocese to account, and we will do so to the best of our abilities,” Vienneau said in the statement, which was read on the weekend at Roman Catholic churches across the diocese, and has been published in several local newspapers.

“To this end, the issues we seek to resolve in this process (are) to validate victims and recognize the harm done to them, while offering them fair compensation “[broken bar]”

Bastarache has been tasked with preparing a compensation package for the victims in the diocese, including those of Levi Noel, the retired Roman Catholic priest who pleaded guilty last October to 22 sex-related charges involving 18 boys.

“They asked me to obtain all possible information on victims of the incidents, the crime, and evaluate how much a settlement is for a case like this one,” Bastarache said in an interview.

Bastarache, who now works at a law firm in Ottawa, is asking anyone who has been a victim of sexual abuse by a member of the Bathurst Diocese to come forward.

“It’s for all the victims of the diocese,” he said.

“If we find the evidence fits, they will be considered.”

Father Wesley Wade, the vicar general of the diocese, said in an interview the diocese is trying to take the lead to help resolve the issue.

“We were reading in the media that the victims wanted us to come to them,” he said.

“The focus was on the victims on Father Noel, but we’re opening the door to other victims.”

Wade said the diocese continues to take steps to ensure that such abuse never happens again.

The incidents involving Noel took place between 1958 and 1981 while he was working at eight different parishes in the Bathurst diocese. His victims were between eight and 16 years of age at the time.

An Ontario law firm representing several of Noel’s victims said in a statement it appears the diocese has “risen to the challenge” it had issued.

The firm praised the appointment of Bastarache, but said it hopes that this process will not stop at compensation, and “will at some point also examine any institutional responsibility of the diocese for the horrific crimes which transpired in their jurisdiction for decades.”

“We cannot avoid repeating the mistakes of the past until we fully understand how they occurred,” said the statement by Ledroit Beckett Litigation.

Bastarache said he plans to meet with victims in the coming months, go over his findings during the summer, and ensure they are compensated by the end of the year.

Last year, a historic class-action settlement compensated dozens of alleged victims of sexual abuse by Roman Catholic priests in Nova Scotia after a lawsuit was filed against the Antigonish diocese and Halifax archdiocese.

The settlement created a fund of up to $15 million to provide survivors with compensation without having to go to public trial. It also required the Diocese of Antigonish to publicly acknowledge its responsibility and apologize for its role.

Earlier this month, Bastarache agreed to investigate explosive allegations by a former Quebec justice minister who says Liberal fundraisers pressured him to appoint certain judges in 2003 and 2004.


ZSA Canada`s Legal Recruitment Firm webpgae

The Law Page: BAR TALK

Heenan makes a Supreme hire

July 9, 2008

Roy Heenan has the magic touch. The founder and chairman of Heenan Blaikie LLP has shown a flair for wooing such political celebrities as the late Pierre Trudeau, Jean Chrétien, Pierre-Marc Johnson and judicial heavyweights such as former Quebec Court of Appeal judge René Dussault and former Court of Appeal of Ontario judge John Morden.

Mr. Heenan’s powers of persuasion just put another big judicial feather in the firm’s cap. This time he has persuaded Michel Bastarache, recently retired from the Supreme Court of Canada, to join the firm in its Ottawa office in September. While most of the firm’s corporate lawyers and clients will be no doubt be wanting to catch him at the water cooler to pester him about the Supreme Court’s closely watched BCE decision last month, there is in fact, much more to this judge.

The New Brunswick-born Mr. Bastarache has a long history in government and private practice, primarily in the insurance sector, and is known as an ardent supporter of bilingualism and language rights.

How did Mr. Heenan win Mr. Bastarache’s heart? The francophone former judge will be working in an office that is completely bilingual and has a strong track record of defending French language rights, thanks largely to Ron Caza‘s Ottawa practice. As the late Mr. Trudeau and then Mr. Chrétien found at Heenan, “our counsel have a fair amount of freedom to take work that they find interesting and satisfying, ” said Norm Bacal, the firm’s national co-managing partner.


Province hires former judge to review French services

The Journal Pioneer (Prince Edward Island)

Published on May 8, 2010

Wayne Thibodeau

Retired Justice Michel Bastarache will make recommendations on how the province can improve the delivery of French language services.

The P.E.I. government is hiring a retired Supreme Court of Canada justice to review French services in the province.

Retired Justice Michel Bastarache will carry out a review of the Island’s French Language Services Act and make recommendations on how the province can improve the delivery of French language services.

Premier Robert Ghiz says more needs to be done to improve the delivery of French language services.

In addition to being premier, Ghiz is also responsible for Acadian and Francophone Affairs.

“There needs to be improvement,” Ghiz told The Guardian.

“Even from the perspective of the press releases that government puts out. Sometimes we don’t always get the French language releases out on time. We have French media. You seem them here almost everyday.

“We need to make sure that we are paying attention to those things but there are costs associated with it.”

A former academic, lawyer, businessman, bureaucrat and law dean, Bastarache was elevated from the New Brunswick Court of Appeal to the top court by the Liberal government of Jean ChrÉtien.

His 1997 appointment was criticized as political because Bastarache had been a co-chair of the federal government’s 1992 “Yes” campaign.

Bastarache had briefly served in the same law firm as ChrÉtien in 1989.

He retired from the Supreme Court on June 30, 2008. He was born in Quebec, but he was raised in New Brunswick.

On his retirement, Prime Minister Stephen Harper commended Bastarache for his advocacy for official language rights.

He now lives near Bouctouche, N.B.

Ghiz said the French Language Services Act is over 10 years old. He said a lot of what was implemented is now outdated, and some part of the act was never implemented.

“It’s time that we take a look at it,” said the P.E.I. premier.

But Ghiz said the former justice realizes that the level of services being offered in P.E.I. will not be the same as what is offered in an official bilingual province like New Brunswick or a mainly French speaking province like Quebec.

“We’re not New Brunswick and we’re not Quebec,” said Ghiz.

“We need to be able to offer services that we’re also able to afford.”

The review will cost $100,000.

The province is picking up $60,000 with the federal government paying for the remaining $40,000.

The justice began his work in December 2009. His recommendations need to be in the hands of the province no later than March 2011.

The French Language Services Act oversees the delivery of a host of provincial government services offered in the French language. That includes services Islanders may access through Island schools and hospitals as well as provincial government services offered at Access P.E.I. sites, the courts and provincial government offices.

“Justice Bastarache has a great reputation as being very strong in this area,” said Ghiz.
“As premier of Prince Edward Island I realize that we have upwards of 10,000 people in the province that have Acadian and Francophone background and it’s growing constantly.”


Top court choice humbles prophets

N.B. francophone replacing same

The Toronto Globe and Mail

Thursday, October 2, 1997

Kirk Makin   Justice Reporter

Prime Minister Jean Chrétien broke a long-standing tradition of Supreme Court of Canada appointments yesterday, replacing a male, francophone academic from New Brunswick with a male, francophone academic from New Brunswick — Mr. Justice Michel Bastarache of the province’s Court of Appeal.

Early criticism of the naming of Judge Bastarache, universally respected for his broad knowledge of the law, focused yesterday on geographic and political considerations.

The appointment of the 50-year-old judge, a former colleague of Mr. Chrétien at the law firm of Lang Michener, dashed the hopes of legal communities elsewhere in Atlantic Canada.

“This has never happened before — we have not just two francophones in a row, but two from the same province,” said Anne La Forest, dean of law at the University of New Brunswick.

Ms. La Forest, daughter of retiring Mr. Justice Gérard La Forest of the Supreme Court, said the appointment is bound to stir criticism in other provinces. “But in the end, the issue that really counts is one of quality, not geography or gender.

“These people are making extremely important decisions. The court needed an academic to replace my father. As an academic, you develop different skills; a reflective balancing of the issues involved.”

Trained in both civil and common law, Judge Bastarache has broad experience in the academic and business worlds. He has also worked exhaustively on behalf of minority education and language rights, particularly in formulating constitutional challenges.

Many legal observers likened him yesterday to the judge he replaces. Both Judge Bastarache and Judge La Forest are considered eloquent writers who reject a narrow, legalistic approach to adjudication.

Like Judge La Forest, the new appointee “is very much a private person with a very strong intellect,” said Andre Richard, a former colleague at the firm of Stewart McKelvey Stirling Scales.

“He is a producer. He expresses himself with great ability, but he doesn’t go out to seek or invite publicity.”

Wayne Mackay, a law professor at Dalhousie University, noted that while Judge Bastarache’s credentials are excellent, “it clearly didn’t hurt that he is a bilingual, francophone Acadian.”

Viewed within the Atlantic legal community as a moderate who does not shy away from bold decisions, Judge Bastarache said in an interview yesterday that there comes a time when a judge must move to eliminate outdated laws.

“I must say that the governments of this country should do more with regard to law reform,” he said. “If they don’t, it is the responsibility of the court to make sure the impact of laws doesn’t produce unjust results.”

Addressing critics of his political connections, Judge Bastarache said his interactions with Mr. Chrétien at their old law firm were few in number and purely on a professional basis.

He said Mr. Chrétien occasionally steered clients his way because of his expertise in particular areas.

“I have never been a member of any political party,” Judge Bastarache added. “My only involvement with political affairs was very discreet and very limited.”

He said the most memorable instance that came to mind was his once having offered advice on a political platform to a long-time personal friend, former New Brunswick Liberal leader Joe Daigle.

Judge Bastarache said that, with the Supreme Court soon to delve into a landmark case over the right of a province to leave Canada, his francophone background and activism on behalf of minority rights are bound to receive a mixed reception.

“I don’t think Quebec speaks with one voice,” he said. “There will be those people who have all sorts of political motives to question my appointment. And I suppose there will be those with political motives to favour it.”

The reference case is really restricted to the issue of how democratic rights are exercised in a country that recognizes the rule of law, he said.

“What we are saying here is: Are there internal rules that are applicable or are international rules applicable? And what are the criteria to ensure democratic rights are exercised fairly? We are not going to decide whether it [Quebec separation] is a good thing or a bad thing, or whether the impact would be good or bad.”

Michel Doucet, dean of law at the University of Moncton, said it would be mistaken to view Judge Bastarache’s position on the Quebec reference as already dtermined.

“You may be surprised,” he said in an interview. “All of the judges on the Supreme Court are federalists, but from a legal perspective some of them can be convinced in different ways. Michel is first of all a legal mind.”

Judge Bastarache acknowledged in the interview that he worked for the Yes committee in the months preceding the 1992 referendum on the Charlottetown accord.

He wondered aloud how anyone could criticize him for supporting what was an amendment to a legal text that already had achieved broad political support across the country. “It is hard for me to believe every lawyer in the country who was involved in the Yes or No campaign is disqualified forever from being a judge,” he said.

Mr. Richard said his former law partner is precisely what he appears — “a strong advocate of the Canadian duality and the fact that francophone minorities across the country have rights that are entrenched in the Charter of Rights.”

Trained in law at the University of Montreal and the University of Ottawa, Judge Bastarache acquired a master’s degree in international law at the University of Nice in France. He is also a specialist in property law and the Quebec Civil Code.

David Lutz, former president of the Law Society of New Brunswick, recalled Judge Bastarache as being instrumental in the creation of the law faculty almost 20 years ago at the University of Moncton. He then taught and eventually became the second dean of the law school.

At one point, he was co-chairman of a New Brunswick commission that made strong recommendations on how to extend service in French and English throughout the provincial court system.

From 1989 to 1994, he was president of Assumption Mutual Life Insurance Co., a major New Brunswick life-insurance company that occupies an important place in the Acadian community.

“It needed new direction and new blood,” Mr. Richard said. “He completely restructured it.”

Those who know Judge Bastarache well say there is a quality of human empathy present in some of his work that likely stems from tragedies in his personal life.

Soon after birth, his son, Jean-François, was diagnosed with a rare and severe illness that required the constant care of his parents. The boy died at the age of 6, sometime after doctors had assured Judge Bastarache and his wife, Yolande, that the likelihood of a second child having the disease was infinitesimal.

The couple’s second child, Emilie, died of the same disease last spring. She was 17.

“It certainly forged the personality of Michel Bastarache,” Mr. Doucet said. “He has been very close to his family.”

There was sustained pressure on the federal government recently to consider Judge Bastarache for the appointment — primarily from the New Brunswick legal and academic establishment as well as the local association of French-speaking lawyers.

“His knowledge of both official languages and of Acadian and Canadian society is second to none,” Gilles Godbout, president of the Law Society of New Brunswick, said yesterday.

While he is light on judicial experience, Judge Bastarache has participated in more than 100 judgments since being appointed to the New Brunswick Court of Appeal in mid-1995.

“When he was approached for the Court of Appeal, some people might have thought he wasn’t ready,” Mr. Doucet said. “But those attitudes changed quickly. Those who know him are not at all surprised he went up the ladder so fast.”

Wade McLaughlin, a law professor at University of New Brunswick, said he has looked through about 50 judgments written by Judge Bastarache as well as 50 more in which he took part.

“He is prolific in a way very few jurists have been,” Prof. McLaughlin said. “He is a very able, elegant writer who is crisp, succinct and persuasive. He is willing for the law to change, but only with the weight of persuasion.”

The judgments covered a wide expanse of law, Prof. McLaughlin said, and Judge Bastarache wrote in dissent in only two of them — a sign that he is adept at persuading colleagues to support his views and operating in a collegial environment.

Judge Bastarache himself said yesterday that, until he received the fateful phone call from Mr. Chrétien early in the morning, he wondered whether his lack of experience on the bench and his supposed handicap of coming from New Brunswick would doom any chance he had of being elevated to the Supreme Court.

Asked to name the chief strength he brings to the court, Judge Bastarache cited his varied legal background. “It brings in a kind of experience of life that is different from others who are practitioners all their lives,” he said.

“I am also francophone, but not from Quebec. That also brings a different perspective. I think it is important for the court to have the point of view of the sort of person who is impacted by their interpretation of these [minority] rights. I don’t think somebody of the majority-language group can understand how in daily life they are impacted by those decisions.”

Judge Bastarache is described by friends and colleagues as being reserved, but an interesting conversationalist who is by no means ill at ease socially.

His route to the law was an unusual one. Judge Bastarache’s father, Alfred, was raised in a poverty-stricken county of New Brunswick and, as the brightest child in school, won a scholarship from the district archbishop.

The hitch was that in order to accept it the senior Bastarache had to shelve his dream of becoming a lawyer and agree to become either a doctor or a cleric.

When his son graduated from university with an arts degree and expressed an interest in teaching, Dr. Bastarache urged him to go into law instead.

“As soon as I entered, I was so taken by law I never wanted to do anything else,” Judge Bastarache said in the interview. “It is the relevance of it. Even as a university teacher, I got bored with research unless it had a practical effect.”

Lawyer Maurice Bastarache, no relation to the new Supreme Court judge, said of the new appointee: “He is simply one of the smartest men I have ever met. He is not a back-slapping type of guy and he is quite reserved, but you immediately notice how bright and knowledgable he is.

“I was hoping he would be named, but I was resigned to the fact it would be someone from Newfoundland,” Mr. Bastarache said. “I think Mr. Chrétien wanted someone who knew language rights and has a background in it.

“I wouldn’t call him a political appointment per se . He was a very good dean and professor, and he knows his stuff. But sure, he still had some connections to the Liberal Party.”

Judge Bastarache said that, while he can understand why his background and beliefs are of interest to the general public, he would have been leery of “the pitfalls” of a political confirmation hearing before his appointment.

He said Chief Justice Antonio Lamer has asked him to prepare to sit on his first case next week.

He will do so with some trepidation about the mechanics of the court. “I really don’t know how the court functions in discussion and debate and the way they form consensus,” Judge Bastarache said. “I am sort of anxious a bit about it. But I am confident I can contribute.”


VOTE WRAP-UP: Yes campaign stumbles; Trudeau, polls stifle efforts by backers of Charlottetown accord

The Ottawa Citizen

26 September 1992

Daniel Drolet

The federal Yes campaign finally got going this week, though it was a bumpy beginning. And the biggest headaches came from former prime minister Pierre Trudeau, who stole headlines by taking potshots at Quebec nationalists.

A virulently worded Trudeau essay dominated the first part of the week of the campaign for the Oct. 16 national vote on constitutional change.

The essay, written before the accord being voted on was finalized in Charlottetown last month, left no one indifferent: Trudeau was almost universally criticized by the current crop of political leaders.

The former prime minister said the backdrop to the accord is Quebec nationalists’ insatiable demand for more powers, and the English-Canadian politicians’ general acquiescence.

“Poor things, they have not yet realized that the nationalists’ thirst will never be satisfied,” he wrote.

Trudeau’s remarks, plus polls suggesting the No side is strong in Quebec and B.C., helped the Canadian dollar stumble on currency markets.

All of which gave the federal leaders, in their first week on the road, a chance to conjure up images of economic doom and gloom should the Yes side not win.

Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, on a campaign swing that took him to Vancouver, Saskatoon, London, Ont., and Sept-Iles, Que., said economic catastrophe would follow a No vote.

“Without unity, we’ve got nothing,” he said in Vancouver on Monday. “All the prosperity we have is split in two.”

Both opposition leaders joined the campaign this week, and both took some swipes at the Mulroney government.

NDP Leader Audrey McLaughlin, for example, defended the Charlottetown accord by saying it would not prevent the creation of a national daycare plan — but the Conservative government might.

McLaughlin also took aim at women’s groups who have come out against the accord.

“As the first woman to lead a national party, if I believed this accord were a step backward for women, I would not support it,” she said in Hull.

Officials from all three parties are working together in what is called the Canada Committee, potentially the biggest of the referendum committees being set up for the vote.

They are trying hard to give it a non-partisan look, and at its official launch this week they named seven co-chairmen from a variety of backgrounds.

They are Toronto journalist June Callwood; former United Nations ambassador Yves Fortier; former Liberal cabinet minister Iona Campagnolo; Inuit leader Mary Simon; New Brunswick Acadian leader Michel Bastarache; Nova Corp. president Ted Newall and Toronto doctor Joseph Wong.

The co-chairmen are trying to work out ways to present their case to Canadians in the weeks before the vote.

Just how many Canadians they need to convince is still unclear.

Constitutional Affairs Minister Joe Clark appeared to suggest this week that 50 per cent plus one in the country as a whole would be enough.

Mulroney said it should be 50 per cent plus one in each province.

Inuit leaders said the aboriginal package should be passed even if several provinces reject the deal as a whole.

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