2012-05-09 Laliberte: Reply to Law Society Complaints Officer (Did you ever see these documents?)
211 Avenue R South
Ph: (306) 249 0397
May 9, 2012
TO: John H.B. McIntosh
Law Society of Saskatchewan
Designated Complaints Officer
#201-12 Cheadle St West
Swift Current, SK
Ph: (306) 778 5240
RE: Timothy Froese and George Laliberte: Law Society File # 80-11818
Dear John McIntosh:
Thank you for your correspondence concerning my complaint and your response dated April 28, and received on Friday, May 4rd, 2012. The following is my response regarding issues you requested me to answer and my assessment of the McKercher letter:
1. Your question (page 2): “The Statement of Defence was prepared by your lawyer and filed with the Court. I enclose a copy. Did you ever see this document before? Did you agree to it?”
Thank you for sending me this document as it is the first time I have seen it, therefore I did not agree to it, and if it was presented to me at the time I would have not agreed to its position in my defense.
The decision written by Judge Popescul in January 17, 2012 is based on this document (Statement of Defence). And as such, the decision is a case solely against myself (George Laliberte), with no mention of the Liberal Party, a proceeding handled in a simplified manner that does not amount to a full trial, essentially without ‘examinations for discovery’, or even in this case the calling of any evidence other than the submission of Maurice Vellacott’s affidavit. Most of my grievance that is relevant to what actually happened, including how I came to ask the controversial questions, and the fact that I apologized, are conveniently left out of the defence.
2. Your invitation (page 1, para 2): “If you have any comments about his (Tim Froese’s) letter, I would be pleased to receive them before I continue with the investigation.”
I believe that the following comments about Tim Froese’s letter will be helpful to your deliberations:
a) McKercher LLP, Page 1, paragraph 3: “He (Joel Hesje) further advised that McKercher had been handling Mr. Laliberte’s defence pro bono.”
McKercher is not handling my case pro bono:
(From my statement of fact): “…He (Chris Axworthy, the Liberal candidate) told me not to worry about anything and that the party will take care of everything, at the same time Mr. Axworthy confirmed that I did nothing wrong, he informed me that one of their lawyers (Liberal) would contact me and that they would take care of the situation. Since then it has been my position to just leave the conflict to the Liberal Party and their Lawyers, to which I regret to this day…
…Not long after my phone conversation with Chris Axworthy, a lawyer contacted me. At no time during this controversy did I ask or seek a lawyer but rather was assigned to me by the Liberal Party, the first lawyer that contacted me was from Saskatoon McKercher Law Firm …”
Note: Chris Axworthy has been a professor of law at the Universities of New Brunswick, Dalhousie and Saskatchewan; was Dean of the University of Manitoba Law School and is currently the Dean at Thompson Rivers University Law School. He knows the law. He told me I had done nothing wrong. He said that one of their (Liberal) lawyers would contact me and they would take care of the situation.
I did not include this in my statement of fact to the Law Society, I thought it was not important: Before Joel Hesje (McKercher) phoned me in 2006, an Aboriginal lawyer named Darren Winegarden contacted me for a meeting. He informed me that he was hired by the Liberals to come and talk with me. I sensed right away that it was because he is First Nations that he had been selected to talk with me. I told Darren at the time I felt like I’ve been used and that the Liberals should at least talk to me directly to let me know what it is that they want me to do, as I felt the political controversy was of their making. Darren agreed with me and went back to talk with the Liberals. I didn’t hear from him and so I phoned to find out what happened. He said, “They fired me.” And he didn’t say more.
Soon after that a McKercher lawyer, whose name I know now to be Joel Hesje, phoned me.
So the Liberals hired and fired Darren Winegarden, then they hired or made some arrangement with Joel Hesje to look after a matter that was of their making and for which Chris Axworthy, the Liberal candidate, assumed responsibility in his conversations with me.
Please see 2.f. below: Doug Richardson (a senior partner at McKercher) is heavily involved in the Liberal Party. McKercher was representing the interests of the Liberal Party, they were not doing pro bono work for me.
From Maurice Vellacott, Feb 14: http://ckom.com/story/mp-awarded-5000-slander-case/43890?quicktabs_4=0 …Vellacott said he believes that Laliberte was just their puppet.
“You’ve got a high paying law firm taking on the case for an indigent aboriginal person like that, you know there’s something else is going on,”.
Therefore, Tim Froese’s statement is misinformed: “McKercher had been handling Mr. Laliberte’s defence pro bono.“
b) McKercher LLP, Page 2, last para: “I observed that there was a mailing address in Saskatoon on file, but did not expect it to be current. I viewed the disconnection of Mr. Laliberte’s home phone number as an indication that he had changed residences. In addition, it is not my practice to seek instructions by mail. … “. It is understandable that Tim Froese may have thought this. However I do not think any client would seek or direct instructions through mail. If I received mail correspondence I would have went to Mr. Froese’s office right away in person. However his justification is unacceptable in our fundamental principles of due process. Because of this, the resulting court proceedings against me were nothing more than a kangaroo court.
I had my home phone number (668-7725) disconnected in 2006 because of the extreme stress that I was experiencing, as I did not know what to say to reporters. Chris Axworthy stopped returning my phone calls. My health began deteriorating and was suffering insomnia. I felt I had to disconnect my phone to try block out the assault that was focused on me. Nonetheless, I maintained my Saskatoon home address to which I continue to reside to this day. I did go back for periods to my home community, Ile-a-la-Crosse, as I have always done from time-to-time, I needed to escape the City, as I needed to recover from extreme stress to which resulted in a heart attack.
But as always, I get my mail at the address in the McKercher file. When I am out-of-town I phone relatives in the city to check my mail and open any important mail that I may have and read it to me over the phone.
It is not Tim Froese’s “practice to seek instructions by mail” (Page 3, top paragraph). But mail is a reliable way to get in touch with someone. I have lived in the same residence since July 2005 for 7 years. McKercher has always had my address.
c) McKercher LLP, Page 1, para 3: “Mr. Hesje advised that the last step in the litigation had been mediation in early 2007, and that to his knowledge our firm had no contact with Mr. Laliberte since that time.” And Page 2, second last paragraph, August, 2011: “I attempted to contact Mr. Laliberte by telephone …”
McKercher had not been in contact with me for four-and-a-half years. On August 11, 2011 Tim Froese attempted to contact me by phone and found that 668-7725 was no longer my phone number. He attempted to find a new phone number for me. On August 25th he appeared in Chambers to represent me.
After four-and-a-half years of no contact with me, McKercher only allowed two weeks in their attempt to contact me, (granted if they really did try to contact me). However, they failed to send a letter to my residence, or attempt to go and physically verify my residence, or talk with people who would know where I was to which is my home address in Saskatoon, where I have lived for last 7 years. I have always been an active member within the Aboriginal community of Saskatoon, as a respected Elder and teacher, I am known, people know where to find me.
I can understand that the case would have been competing for time and priority with other cases. But it was a failure of adequate and conscientious representation of a client who didn’t even know that he was a client. This is not acceptable.
d) McKercher LLP, Page 3, para 3: “It was, and still is, my view that I could adequately represent Mr. Laliberte’s interests without his express instructions.”
In a democratic society, is it ethical to be “represented” in a Court of law by someone you have never met or spoken with, in proceedings against you that you have no idea are taking place, using documents that you have not seen, authorized, or signed?”
I have a reasonable expectation to have been advised in a fair and just due process when Maurice Vellacott brought a civil suit against me. As far as I was concerned, if there was to be court action, I believed it would be against the Liberals, and at the very least, jointly against the Liberals and me.
When I was seconded to attend the mediation in 2007, I assumed that was the end of Vellacot’s pursuit to address his grievance, because I received no correspondence from McKercher for four-and-a-half years.
e) McKercher LLP, Page 3, last paragraph: “The Chambers Judge (Popescul) found . . . “
In his description of what Judge Popescul found, Tim Froese does not say what was reported in the Saskatoon Star Phoenix on Feb. 14, 2012: “Falsely accusing someone of being charged with sexual assault is reprehensible,” Popescul said in the 16-page decision.”
Who is responsible for the “reprehensible” act? My grievance from the very beginning has been that I was set up. (From my statement of fact):
“…Marie-Therese Verma, campaign manager for Chris Axworthy, approached me and asked if I could do a favor for her by making a phone call to the televised debate. She explained that she had to observe the debate in another room and she was unable to make the phone call at the same time; as a volunteer, I agreed to make the call. She gave me a paper with the phone number and three questions to ask Mr. Vellacott. She told me to wait and would signal me when to make the phone call. The three questions to ask Mr. Vellacott that were written on the paper as best as I can recall them …”
The question that needs to be addressed and whoever responsible be held accountable is; who thought up and wrote down the questions in the first place? I do not know if Marie-Therese is the sole author of the questions or if it was someone else in her circle.
As I was a loyal liberal supporter and an official volunteer following directions, I trusted other people and went along with what was requested of me. I am responsible for that. When I understood, I sincerely regretted what I had done. I apologized to Maurice Vellacott. Therefore, someone pre-meditated the “reprehensible” act. Who was the person responsible?
The fact that the phone was disconnected and moved in the time it took me to get a coffee, as explained in my Statement of Fact, leads me to think that the responsible people knew what they had done, and immediately took measures of damage control and/or cover up.
An article in the Lawyer’s Weekly:
“…the March 2, 2012 edition of Lawyers’ Weekly, a weekly national lawyers’ newspaper circulated widely [law profs and most law firms get copies] there is a nearly full page story on the Vellacott v. Laliberte case. It mostly says what the court judgment says, and none of the lawyers were available for, or responded to the Lawyers Weekly, to comment. However Vellacott is quoted as saying: “Even people put up as pawns are still accountable for their actions because it downgrades the democratic process’ and he said he ‘wants an apology and the payment from whomever ‘put [Laliberte] up to damaging me in some way. They can step forward.”
So far that “whomever” has not stepped forward.
f) McKercher LLP, Page 4, second last para: “I deferred the matter of the agreement with the Liberal Party to Doug Richardson, another lawyer at McKercher.”
Doug Richardson is a senior partner at McKercher. On one occasion when I was at the Campaign Headquarters for electing the Liberal candidate (Chris Axworthy), Doug Richardson was also there. He was pointed out to me, I thought it was because he was the campaign manager but that position was filled by Marie-Therese Verma, who gave me the questions to ask Maurice Vellacott. Doug Richardson is not just “another lawyer at McKercher”. He is part of the Federal Liberal Party in Saskatchewan.
This is a serious conflict-of-interest. Senior people at McKercher LLP are Liberal backers. The placement of the Vellacott complaint against the Liberal Party in the McKercher Law Firm meant that lawyers in McKercher had a significant interest in keeping the Liberal Party name out of the court documents. If you read the documents that were submitted to the Court, there is no record, not a whisper, of Liberal Party involvement.
Tim Froese is in the early stages of his career in a big law firm. He is under pressure to “produce” (billings); wants to look good in the firm; he was told that this case is pro bono.
And because of the way the system works, I have no alternative at this stage but to address the role of Tim Froese because it was him who was delegated to participate in a kangaroo court.
3. In response to your questions (page 2):
“Do you believe that Mr. Vellacott’s version (of the questions asked) is correct?” Yes.
“Do you know whether your original lawyer (Joel Hesje) ever looked into and obtained the exact wording? I do not know.
“Do you have any access to a recording of what was said?” No.
In response to your inquiry: If possible I would like to hear a recording or read a transcript of the actual wording.” I think that Maurice Vellacott would have obtained that in preparation for going to Court. I would suggest asking him. What I recalled is basically the same as what Maurice Vellacott entered onto the Court record. I believe that the wording supplied by him is correct and reliable.
I have answered your questions related to the wording of the questions. But I do not see how they are related to the question of legitimacy of me being represented in Court by McKercher (Tim Froese).
I believe the issues for your decision are fundamental ones:
– In a democracy, does a citizen have to be told when there are court proceedings against him?
– Can someone represent you in Court without your knowledge and without ever even having talked with you, using documents that you would not have signed or authorized?
With that it is my hope this correspondence will assist you in your investigation, I seek only truth, justice and accountability for all the grief and suffering imposed on me and hopefully exoneration from a “reprehensible act” that I was accused of committing. If you have further questions, I will make myself available at anytime and will be happy to try and answer them to the best of my ability. Thank you.