Thursday, March 26, 2015

What's the French word for "decision" Justice Toews?

Good Day Readers:

That's right it's exactly the same in English save for the acute accent (l'accent aigue) over the "e." Talk about lame/feeble excuses! Can hardly wait until there's a rental payment dispute case before him so he can throw the book at the accused.

Clare L. Pieuk
Quebec judge calls Toews to task over ignoring letter from former landlord

Former Minister of Justice owes thousands in unpaid rent, interest

By Mia Rabson
Thursday, March 26, 2015

Vic Toews (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press Archives)

OTTAWA – Former federal minister and current Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Vic Toews has been ordered by the Quebec government to pay $3,900 in unpaid rent for a Quebec apartment he lived in for the last three years of his time in federal politics.

The order comes from a judge with the Regie du Logement in Quebec, the special tribunal that oversees Quebec residential laws.

It stems from a dispute between Toews and his former landlord in Gatineau, Que., over whether the lease for his Gatineau apartment was annual or monthly.

In legal documents filed in February with the Regie du Logement and obtained today by the Winnipeg Free Press, Toews argued he signed the original lease in 2010 as an annual lease with the agreement from the building’s manager that after the first year, the lease would convert to a month-to-month lease automatically.

He notified the landlord of intention to end the lease in July 2013, when he announced he was leaving federal politics. At that time the landlord said the lease was not monthly and said Toews would need to pay for the remainder of the lease.

Toews, in legal documents filed by his lawyer, said he believed the dispute was settled when he agreed to pay the full rent for August even though he felt he wasn’t legally required to do so. On Aug. 1, 2013 a cheque for $1,300 was sent from the numbered Manitoba company owned by Toews’ wife, Stacy Meek, and that cheque was cashed.

However, a month later, the landlord, Raymond Desmarais, filed a complaint with the Regie du Logement asking it to order Toews to pay the additional rent owing from an annual lease.

At the tribunal hearing, which neither Toews nor his lawyer attended, the landlord claimed he was owed $3,900 in rent for September, October and November 2013, and that Toews had defaulted on the rent and left the apartment with his belongings.

Administrative Judge Pierre Gagnon ruled in Desmarais’s favour and in November 2013 ordered Toews to pay the landlord $3,900 in back rent, as well as interest and $78 in legal fees.

Toews claims, in documents filed with the tribunal in February, he knew nothing of the complaint, the hearing or the judgment against him.

The decision was sent to a Winnipeg address Toews hasn't lived at for more than a decade.

In December 2014, he received notice from a collection agency that he owed $17,490.34 demanding payment within 48 hours, naming Desmarais as the creditor.

In the documents, Toews’ lawyer said the creditor’s name was not familiar to Toews, "which led him to believe that this letter was either an error or some sort of fraud."

Toews also claimed the fact he doesn’t speak French meant he didn’t understand what the rest of the documents attached to the letter were about.

"Certain documents were attached to the letter but, because they were in French, the Tenant could not read them," reads the document.

So he set the letter aside and did nothing, planning to contest any eventual proceeding.

About a month later he was told "to his great surprise" by his payroll department that it had been served a notice to garnish his wages stemming from the November 2013 rental board decision.

He noted the judgment from November 2013 was sent to a Winnipeg address no longer Toews lived at and he never received it.

Had Toews known of the hearing he would have contested it, says the lawyer, and they asked Gagnon to suspend the judgment against Toews.

In a letter filed with the documents that Toews sent to the landlord in July 2013 while disputing the monthly-versus-annual lease, Toews also claims the apartment was in disrepair, demands for fixes to a leaky toilet and broken window went unanswered, and that the building was unsafe because it was surrounded by gang activity. He said he only remained living there because as a cabinet minister he and his family had access to RCMP security.

He said when he resigned, his security detail was no longer available and the dangers in the building – notably drug and gang activity – still existed.

"For that reason alone, even if there was a yearly lease, I would be entitled to end the tenancy because you are not providing me with the appropriate security that I should expect in a building of this nature," Toews wrote.

On March 18, Judge Gagnon refused Toews’ request mainly because he said Toews filed it too late.

Gagnon agreed Toews had not been given a chance to appear at the original hearing, but he said Toews’ claim that he didn’t know about the ruling until the garnishment notice was not acceptable because he had clearly received a copy of the judgment along with the letter from the collections agency.

The fact that the judgment was in French and that Toews doesn’t speak French is not an acceptable argument for not figuring out what a letter marked "decision" was about, wrote Gagnon.

Toews is a veteran lawyer, a judge in Manitoba and a former cabinet minister and former minister of Justice, said Gagnon, and as such, he should have known better.

"More than anyone, he is able to comprehend the respect and the attention that should be assigned to a document titled "Decision," Gagnon wrote.

He also listed several other judicial decisions in Quebec which rejected a language deficiency as an excuse for not understanding legal decisions or orders, and noted the Constitution and Quebec law both allow English and French to be used.

A spokeswoman for Toews at the Court of Queen’s Bench in Manitoba said Toews had no comment.


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