Friday, March 16, 2012

"All rise court is now in session The Honourable Judge Joe Brown Presiding!"!"

"Oy Vey!"
The Plaintiff
The Defendant

Industry Minister Christian Paradis won’t comment on a defamation case he’s launched against an opposition MP over allegations an employment insurance office was relocated to his riding to benefit a family business partner.

“I decided to not comment any more on that thing in the public,” said Paradis after an appearance before the House of Commons industry committee on Thursday. “I had false allegations that were made on my person and I brought this thing to the court and I will continue to bring this thing to the court.”
Paradis filed the suit against NDP MP Guy Caron on March 2 in a Quebec court for allegations Caron made outside the House of Commons that a Service Canada office was moved from Rimouski to Thetford Mines, where it will reportedly be housed in a building owned by a business partner of Paradis’ father. Rimouski is in Caron’s riding; Thetford Mines is represented by Paradis.

“The two terms that I used outside the House — and that he’s using in the lawsuit — is ‘patronage’ and ‘conflict of interest’ in that matter,” said Caron Friday. He admits making the comments to the media.

Paradis is alleging damage to his reputation and claiming $150,000, said Caron.

Two days prior to the suit, Paradis filed a cease-and-desist order Two days prior to the suit, Paradis filed a cease-and-desist order against Caron requesting the latter retract his comments and apologize within 48 hours. “I was not going to,” said Caron. “I made that very clear.”

A strategic organization of Service Canada offices in Quebec had been taking place since 2009, he said.

Originally, Caron claimed staff at the Rimouski centre were told central hubs like theirs would remain intact through the reorganization, while secondary offices like the one in Thedford Mines would downsize.

Last August, Finley announced the reorganization's conclusion: Rimouski's office would be downsized and Thedford Mines' would be expanded.

Caron's allegations of wrongdoing stem from interviews Paradis gave to the local weekly newspaper in Thedford mines, The Courrier Frontenac, published online September 5.

In the article, Paradis speaks highly of the centre chosen for the new employment insurance office and says he spoke to Human Resources Minister Diane Finley about its potential prior to her department's decision.

Caron had been speaking to employees, at the Rimouski branch since 2009 about the issue, before he became an MP, he said.

Ethics Commissioner Mary Daswon has launched an inquiry into the allegations at Caron's request.

Caron has just hired a lawyer and has yet to file a response.

jamesmunson@ipolitics.ca

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