Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Quebec Crown Prosecutors Ordered Back To Work, Hell's Angels Happy?

The Quebec government yesterday passed special legislation to force striking Crown prosecutors and government lawyers back to work. The law imposes a settlement on the lawyers without any bargaining.

It is well known that Quebec Crowns are among the worst paid in Canada, that they are understaffed and overworked. Observers write that the Quebec justice system is at the breaking point.

Estimates put meeting the demands of the Crowns, the cornerstone of our justice system, to catch up to the Canadian average salary, at $20-40 million. The Crown's union complained that the very same week that the government said it could not afford the "rattrapage" (catching up), it easily found hundreds of millions to help finance a new hockey arena in Quebec City for a still non-existent NHL professional team.

Some of the coverage:
  • Bitter Quebec prosecutors forced back to work (Globe and Mail): "Passage of the special legislation underscored Quebec’s acrimonious political climate. In recent months, the Liberal government has been plagued by allegations of unethical practices and charges that it is unwilling to tackle corruption in the construction industry. Now it has locked horns with the same prosecutors it was counting on to lead the fight against organized crime."
  • Graeme Hamilton: Quebec handcuffs its crime fighters (National Post): "The government’s unwillingness to address the prosecutors’ woeful working conditions has created a crisis within the Crown ranks that could see more criminals walking free. 'It’s a huge victory for organized crime. It’s a huge victory for gangs, for cartels, for every type of international fraud you can imagine,' said J.D. Gerols, a senior Crown prosecutor in Montreal. 'They’re smiling because they know that even though we were already overworked and underpaid and were asking for help, the government has basically rebuffed us and doesn’t want to put the resources in'.”
  • Crown prosecutors bitter as work resumes (CBC News): "Montreal prosecutor Sonia Lebel returned to her courthouse office Tuesday frowning. She's proud of her job, but said she feels betrayed by the government she serves and is thinking of quitting. 'I'm not telling you that I'm going to do that right away. I still have a life to preserve. But it's the first time in 20 years that I'm very serious about that'. Lawyers are concerned low morale will exacerbate backlogs in the system (...) Quebec's Bar Association echoed that concern, suggesting Tuesday that organized crime groups may try to exploit Quebec's weakened justice system."
  • A welcome sign for organized crime: prosecutors (Montreal Gazette): "Christian Leblanc, president of the Association des procurers aux poursuites criminelles et pénales, told reporters after the Liberal majority overwhelmed a combined opposition to adopt Bill 135, that the rest of Canada is worried about the situation in Quebec (...) Leblanc said the Quebec government recognized in 2002 a 32-per-cent gap, on average, between the salaries of Quebec prosecutors and those in the rest of the country. That gap has widened to 40 per cent now, he said, and the six-per-cent-over-five-years imposed settlement means the shortfall will grow wider still."
  • Retour au travail difficile pour les procureurs et les juristes ( / Presse canadienne): "C'est avec le moral dans les talons que les procureurs de la Couronne aux poursuites criminelles et pénales ainsi que les juristes de l'État sont retournés au travail, mercredi, au lendemain de l'adoption d'une loi spéciale du gouvernement Charest mettant un terme à deux semaines de grève. Si le moral n'est pas au rendez-vous pour plusieurs, le président de l'Association des procureurs aux poursuites criminelles et pénales (APPCP), Christian Leblanc, assure que les procureurs feront tout en leur pouvoir pour rattraper le temps perdu."
  • Négocier? Trop tard! Même s'ils rentrent au travail, les procureurs refusent de se rasseoir avec Québec et demandent la démission du directeur des poursuites (Le Devoir): "Ulcérés et humiliés par l'imposition de la loi spéciale, les procureurs ont rejeté hier l'invitation «odieuse» du gouvernement à négocier et réclament plutôt la démission du directeur des poursuites criminelles et pénales (DPCP), Louis Dionne, qui n'a plus leur confiance (...) Au dernier décompte du DPCP hier, 6 des 14 procureurs en chef avaient envoyé une lettre de démission à Louis Dionne pour redevenir simple procureur et 25 des 36 procureurs en chef adjoints ont fait de même, soit un total de 31 cadres sur 50. Ces cadres ont perdu confiance dans le DPCP, à l'instar de leurs collègues, les procureurs en grève, estime Me Leblanc."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:43 pm


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