Woodside concerned over handling of blogger's arrest
Charles LeBlanc was arrested for criminal libel
Brad Woodside is expressing concern over the city police force's handling of the arrest of controversial blogger Charles LeBlanc.
LeBlanc was charged last September under section 301 of the Criminal Code, which relates to criminal libel. However, that section of the criminal code has been challenged in other provinces.
Six UNB professors sent a letter to Attorney General Marie-Claude Blais this month saying they thought the case would not result in a conviction and was not in the public interest.
Woodside, who is campaigning for re-election, was asked about his views on LeBlanc’s arrest on Monday during an interview with CBC News.
While Woodside said he supports the police, the mayor said, in general, he agrees with the lawyers’ statements.
"I’m not a big fan of the courts and tying up court time and tying people's time and spending taxpayers money on things such as defamation suits. I just think there is a better use of time in the court for different things," Woodside said.
"So I think all I would be prepared to say this morning, is there is not a lot of things that I would disagree with when it comes to things that are being said about the Charles LeBlanc case."
The lawyers wrote to Blais that they felt the courts in New Brunswick would likely agree with their counterparts in Ontario, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland and Labrador "that this section does not pass constitutional muster."
LeBlanc was supposed to be in court on Friday. But his case was postponed.
Police culture questioned
Woodside has made other comments during his re-election campaign about the police force’s handling of the LeBlanc file.
During the recent Fredericton Mayoral Queer Debate, Woodside was asked about his views on the police conduct.
Woodside explained how the mayor and council do not interfere with the police force. But in a video clip from the debate that was posted on LeBlanc’s blog, Woodside expresses his concerns with the "culture" of the police.
"There is a culture, it comes from the top … so that is something that I’m dealing with right now," Woodside told the debate.
Woodside, who was first elected in 1986, is the longest-serving mayor in Fredericton.
And he's running again in next month's municipal election. He said his vision is to make the city the best it can be in terms of recreation, environment and value for taxpayer dollars.
He also wants to see the city's population grow and to develop a good climate for business.
Woodside is running against Matthew Hayes, a professor at St. Thomas University.