Gatineau Big Brothers' director illegally acted as lawyer

The director general of the Big Brothers, Big Sisters chapter in Gatineau, Que., has falsely portrayed herself as a lawyer and practised law without a licence, according to an investigation by Radio-Canada, and without the knowledge of the charity's board members.

Yvonne Dubé, the charity's current director, did not reveal issue to group's board

Yvonne Dubé, executive director of Big Brothers Big Sisters' Outaouais chapter consented to an order banning her from acting as lawyer. (Ashley Burke/CBC News)

The executive director of the Big Brothers, Big Sisters chapter in Gatineau, Que., has falsely portrayed herself as a lawyer and practised law without a licence, according to an investigation by Radio-Canada, and without the knowledge of the charity's board members. 

Yvonne Dubé consented to an order in April 2015 by Ontario Superior Court Judge Charles T. Hackland to "permanently cease practising the law without authorization." 

Dubé says she accepted the order that she acted as a lawyer between September 2011 and March 2012, but, in a phone discussion with Radio-Canada, said she had never represented clients in court without a licence. 

Radio-Canada consulted close to 10 documents from the Law Society of Ontario and the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in reporting this story. 

One of those documents was an agreed statement of facts — presented during proceedings between one of Dubé's former bosses and the Law Society of Ontario — indicated Dubé had appeared in court, representing two clients accused of cocaine possession.

That trial was eventually cancelled when it was revealed Dubé was not a lawyer.

Radio-Canada can not confirm if another trial took place on those charges.

But Dubé told Radio-Canada she knew nothing about the case and insisted she never represented anyone as a lawyer.

"I have no idea what you're talking about," she said in French. 

Christian Deslauriers worked with Yvonne Dubé in his law practice. (Matthew Kupfer/CBC)

Her former boss, lawyer Christian Deslauriers, was sanctioned by the law society this February, and had his licence suspended for three months, for failing to ensure that Dubé, who worked for his law firm at the time, had been properly licenced. 

The complaint filed against Dubé came on April 19, 2012 to the law society from Ottawa lawyer Mélanie Lord.

Lord declined an interview, but in her complaint said she was surprised when she learned Dubé was not a lawyer. 

Dubé said she took a bar exam, but withdrew and did not complete it.

Agreed-upon facts that were part of Deslauriers's proceedings with the law society, which Deslauriers signed, said that Dubé assured him that she was a lawyer.

Deslauriers declined a formal interview, but in a statement to Radio-Canada, said he doesn't understand why Dubé didn't say she had not passed the exams.  

Charity unaware

Dubé was hired at Big Brothers, Big Sisters in early 2015, shortly before the order she consented to from the Ontario court. 

She admitted to Radio-Canada she did not tell the charity about the outstanding complaint. She said at the time she felt it was a "private" issue.

Marc Philip Laperrière, who was head of the organization when Dubé was hired, said he was unaware of the complaint, and that it is something they would have wanted to know.

He added however, that Dubé's legal skills were not important to the position and she was hired as a businesswoman.

Richard Gravel, the current president of the charity's board, could not be reached by Radio-Canada for comment.

Reporter arrested

In the course of this investigation, Radio-Canada offered Dubé a formal interview. After initially accepting, she declined the interview at the last moment. She instead spoke by phone. 

The next day, our reporter sent an email reiterating the offer for an interview.

Subsequently, Dubé contacted the Gatineau police and made a complaint of criminal harassment against journalist Antoine Trépanier.

Tuesday evening police arrested him and had him sign a promise to appear.

The Crown has not yet decided if charges against Trépanier will proceed.

Radio-Canada stands behind the work of its journalist both ethically and legally.