Blogger inquiry possible, says attorney general
Lawyer Steven Foulds says the provincial government should oversee a review
New Brunswick's attorney general is not ruling out a provincial inquiry into the case of Fredericton blogger Charles LeBlanc.
The city has launched a review of whether Fredericton Police acted properly during a raid of the controversial blogger's home, but there have been calls for a full inquiry.
Attorney General Marie-Claude Blais told CBC News she's not closing the door to that idea.
"I don't want to prejudge the process, but at the same time we are well aware that it's important that we are objective when we deal with people under the Criminal Code, or under any infraction. It's very important," she said.
Premier David Alward said LeBlanc has other procedures to follow before he would consider a public inquiry, such as waiting for the outcome of the city's independent review and referring his case to the New Brunswick Police Commission.
Blais said LeBlanc would also have to formally request a full inquiry and so far, he hasn't.
But LeBlanc and his lawyer Steven Foulds have been publicly calling for a public inquiry into the police force’s actions since Blais confirmed the criminal defamation case against LeBlanc would not be pursued.
Members of the Fredericton legal community have also chimed in on the demand for a public inquiry.
"It's not appropriate for the municipality to be looking at this issue," said Foulds.
"They don't have the expertise, and I would say they don't necessarily have the impartiality, or at least the appearance of impartiality that's needed to do this."
The matter must be dealt with at the provincial level by a public inquiry, said Foulds.
On Thursday, Fredericton Police Chief Barry MacKnight decided to step back from a third-party investigation into his force’s handling of the LeBlanc case.
MacKnight said he would hand over the responsibility of picking an outside official to review the force’s actions on the LeBlanc file to the city’s chief administrative officer.
But Foulds contends the process will be tainted as long as it's a city employee who determines who conducts a review of how the police handled the matter.
He said it would be unfair to put the city in the position to make important decisions on policing issues.
"The expertise in New Brunswick around policing issues is not found at the level of a municipal government. It's found provincially with the minister of public safety, with the attorney general," he said.
Wayne Knorr, the communications manager for the city of Fredericton, said the city’s chief administrative officer could ask the provincial government to look into the LeBlanc case.
"Certainly I'm sure that's within the realm of possibility as Mr. [Chris] MacPherson investigates the choices that he has to make for the investigation," he said.
Knorr said MacPherson will likely have more to say about the LeBlanc review process by the end of the month.
The controversy stems from a police raid of the Fredericton social activist and blogger's home.
LeBlanc, who writes a blog that is often critical of politicians and police officers, had his computer seized in January and was informed he would be facing charges of criminal defamation.
The charges were never laid.