Supreme Court refuses to hear appeal by Quebec Liberal Party fundraiser
Charest confidant sought to block publication of documents related to political financing investigation
The Supreme Court of Canada has rejected a former top Quebec Liberal Party fundraiser's attempts to block publication of documents related to a provincial anti-corruption inquiry that targeted him in August 2016.
Marc Bibeau, who is said to be a close confidant of former Quebec premier Jean Charest, was fighting the efforts of a media consortium — made up of La Presse, QMI and The Gazette — to publish information contained in two search warrants.
Those documents detail the rationale the anti-corruption police unit, UPAC, gave to conduct searches the offices of Bibeau's companies within the investigation, known as Operation Mâchurer.
No material was seized. Bibeau has not been charged in connection with the operation.
Operation Mâchurer was launched in 2013 to investigate political financing, with a focus on the Quebec Liberal Party and the awarding of public contracts.
Bibeau's lawyers had argued that the disclosure of the documents posed risks to his right to a fair trial, if a trial were to happen.
Prior to the Supreme Court's dismissal Thursday, the Court of Quebec, the Superior Court and the Quebec Court of Appeal had all dismissed Bibeau's claim.
The Court of Quebec concluded that since the basic facts in question were already public, the risk of harm caused by further publicity didn't warrant a publication ban.
The Superior Court and the Court of Appeal — unanimously in the second case — found that no error of judgment had been made by the Court of Quebec.
Until now, Bibeau had secured a temporary publication ban that was in effect until he had exhausted all avenues of appeal, or until the Director of Criminal and Penal Prosecutions decided whether or not he would be charged.
Bibeau's law firm released a statement Thursday in response to the Supreme Court decision.
"As a reminder, Mr. Bibeau had filed an application for leave to appeal in order to preserve his rights and his reputation against media coverage of unverified allegations based on hearsay," the statement says.
"Mr. Bibeau wishes to reaffirm his integrity and maintains that he will continue to assert his rights. His political activity has always been done willingly, voluntarily, out of personal conviction and in accordance with the law."