• James Armstrong and Carmen Marie Fabio

Hudson asks Barreau du Québec to investigate a resident


PHOTO BY JAMES ARMSTRONG

Hudson administration and elected officials are trying to narrow down how a sensitive document requesting an investigation into one of its citizens was leaked.

Town of Hudson administration has expressed concern that a confidential document sent to the Barreau du Québec detailing complaints and alleged ethical breaches, and requesting an investigation against a resident, has been leaked and while Your Local Journal is choosing to keep names confidential until the Barreau’s Bureau du Syndic makes its ruling, we have spoken to all parties concerned.

“I’m disappointed it’s been leaked,” was Mayor Ed Prévost’s reaction when asked about the document Monday, June 12. “We don’t know where the leaked or stolen document came from but the field of potential leakers is getting larger.”

Document sent to YLJ

Dated April 12, 2017, the 30-page document printed on Hudson letterhead was sent to the Bureau du Syndic via email and lists what it cites as examples of the breaches including bad faith, intimidation, and a, “…lack of independence and integrity in contravention of the Code of Conduct for Lawyers.”

The document goes on to accuse the citizen, who is also a lawyer in good standing according to the Barreau du Québec website, of waging guerilla warfare against the town administration and is on a personal mission aimed at harming the town. The document was printed out in its entirety and mailed via Canada Post to the home address of Your Local Journal journalist James Armstrong. However, the 31 items listed as exhibits were not included in the mailing.

Bureau du Syndic

The target of the investigation request declined to comment on the contents of the document during an interview Tuesday, June 13, nor did they opt to read it. In fact, they insisted that a copy of the leaked document be sent to the Syndic immediately.

“To be very clear and on the record, the reason that I want a copy sent to the Syndic is because of how the process works,” they said, describing the two steps – the first being the request for an investigation and the second as being the point where the Syndic decides whether or not to proceed with a complaint.

“During the first step everything is confidential and it’s the Syndic who decides to inform the professional or not and what they will give to the professional or not. My understanding is that the normal process is to send a letter to the professional with some of the information and ask that person to answer the allegation,” they said.

The resident emphasized a bound duty not to interfere with an investigation by the Syndic and said there is full respect for the processes of the Syndic and the Barreau du Québec.

“I trust the judicial system and I know that I have acted with integrity and honesty,” they said, refusing to comment further when asked if they were aware that a request for an investigation had been made by the Town of Hudson.

“That is because I respect the process of the Bar and the right of the Syndic to perform its work. The reason for that confidentiality, from what I understand, is that the Syndic, at that point in time, just investigates. If the investigation is unfounded, it is supposed to remain confidential so as not to damage the reputation of the professional. The moment you are informed that there is an investigation of you as a lawyer, you are not supposed to interfere with the investigation.

“I am really concerned about that leak,” they continued. “It is my duty to inform the bar the document has been leaked.” When asked about the potential motivation for the leak, the resident replied, “I can only think that it is an attempt to launch an attack on my reputation.”

Feedback from Director General

“It was not our intention to make this public,” said Hudson Director General Jean-Pierre Roy saying the investigation is purely business-based rather than revenge-oriented. “We’re remaining neutral in this situation.”

Roy agreed the request for investigation is serious and can be considered in the public interest but said the administration would have preferred to wait until the Syndic had completed its work before divulging any details.

He did, however, justify the request for investigation by the Syndic saying, “(Legal action) was taken against the town without any relevance,” of last year’s case against Mayor Prévost before the Commission Municipale du Québec (CMQ), as reported in Your Local Journal October 20, 2016.

“I’m speaking for the 5,180 citizens of the Town of Hudson,” Roy continued. “When it costs hundreds of thousands of dollars to the citizens of a town, do you expect the town to do nothing? A responsible town must act. Not because we’re afraid to receive more (legal challenges) but because we’re responsible.”

Roy could not speculate on when the Syndic would have the results of the investigation.

“Both parties have the right to be heard,” he said. “It’s an enquiry like any other enquiry.”

The Bureau du Syndic could neither confirm nor deny that a request for an investigation was received. A spokesperson for the Syndic would only say that any request for investigation is only the first step in a multi-tiered process and that everyone is innocent until proven guilty.

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