and Félix Séguin
Members of the staff of the Permanent Anti-Corruption Unit allegedly orchestrated leaks of confidential police information into the media, and even tried to hinder the investigation launched to find out the author of the leaks.
This is what Judge André Perreault of the Court of Quebec relates in his decision to justify the withdrawal of the charges against former Minister Nathalie Normandeau last week.
If the stay of proceedings against Ms. Normandeau and her five co-defendants is the element that has attracted attention since last Friday, a careful reading of the 82 pages of the judgment paints an extremely negative portrait of the former senior management of UPAC. , at the time when Robert Lafrenière was the big boss.
Robert Lafernière, former boss of UPAC
The magistrate returns to the famous Project A, this investigation now under the responsibility of the Bureau of Independent Investigations (BEI) in order to determine the source of the information leaks at the UPAC, and the way in which certain investigations were carried out by the senior officials. leaders of the organization.
Judge Perreault summarized the thesis supported by Project A investigators as follows: “The leaks are the result of concerted action by the senior leaders of UPAC for personal and oblique reasons”.
He even mentions possible criminal offenses against the former number two of the UPAC, André Boulanger, subordinate of Robert Lafrenière.
André Boulanger, former number two of UPAC
“In September 2018, the Project A team informed the Director of Criminal and Penal Prosecutions (DPCP) that André Boulanger was the author of the leaks and that he withheld information relevant to the investigation, which could constitute an obstacle to justice or a breach of trust, ”he wrote in his judgment.
The magistrate also notes the reproaches addressed to two other senior officers of UPAC.
“From the start of the Project A investigation, investigators complained about the lack of transparency and the interference of Inspector André Boulanger and Lieutenant Caroline Grenier-Lafontaine, and, as of June 2018 of the Inspector Boulanger and Lieutenant Vincent Rodrigue ”, we can read.
This is the first time that a judge has written so clearly that the leaks of UPAC investigative information have come from the upper management of UPAC itself.
The Honorable Judge Perreault even affirms that the DPCP was a victim of the way in which certain former leaders of the UPAC behaved.
Judge at the Court of Quebec
“The leaks are the result of concerted action by senior UPAC leaders for personal and oblique reasons. “
“The DPCP […] had to be content with being in the wake of police misconduct. “
– André Perreault, judge at the Court of Quebec
“The DPCP did try to mitigate, but it had to content itself with being behind the police misconduct in the applicants' case,” he wrote.
According to him, one should not blame the DPCP in the setbacks of the procedures against Nathalie Normandeau, especially since the public prosecutor would have been “duped”.
André Boulanger and Caroline Grenier-Lafontaine have always denied having anything to be ashamed of in the way they conducted investigations at UPAC. They were assigned administrative duties in March 2019 after Project A investigators received allegations about them, but have not yet faced any charges.
They are suing Quebecor Media and Cogeco Media for defamation and claiming $ 9.2 million in damages, in connection with reports concerning them.
The elements exposed by Judge Perreault are the latest twists and turns in a saga that has lasted for nearly four years and which has notably included the arrest without charge of MP Guy Ouellette, the surprise resignation of Robert Lafrenière and the suspension of the director of the Sûreté du Québec Martin Prud'homme.
Recall that, last Friday, Nathalie Normandeau as well as the former minister and VP of Roche Marc-Yvan Côté and four other co-defendants benefited from a stay of proceedings for unreasonable legal delays. Arrested in March 2016, they were accused of having participated in a scheme to award public contracts in exchange for political funding for the benefit of the Liberal Party of Quebec.
Justice Perreault ruled that a 52-month delay was attributable to the prosecution, while the Supreme Court set 18 months as the acceptable time limit for an accused to be tried.