Charest rejects call to stop judges inquiry
The opposition parties said they no longer have faith in the independence of the Bastarache commission, which was ordered to look into allegations of partisan interference in the nomination of judges.
The government still has confidence in the commission, headed by former Supreme Court justice Michel Bastarache, which is "independent and impartial," Charest told reporters in Sutton on Thursday.
"When Mr. Justice Bastarache was named [to chair the inquiry], his nomination was well received - unanimously - by people who today are putting it into question," the premier said.
ADQ calls for end to inquiry
Earlier on Thursday, Action Démocratique du Québec Leader Gérard Deltell said the controversial inquiry into Quebec's judicial selection process has gone off the rails because of who is allowed to participate.
On Wednesday, Bastarache ruled the Parti Québécois will not have standing at the hearings, despite the fact that both the Quebec Liberal Party and the premier have been awarded the right to participate.
"It has been a succession, a real comedy of errors," offered the leader of the national assembly's second opposition party. "Day after day we see difficulties, some problems with that commission."
"We have to put a hold on the commission, and get back to our first proposal, back to square one."
Deltell suggests legislators should hold their own hearings into allegations of Liberal patronage in the appointment of judges to the bench.
PQ justice critic Véronique Hivon agreed "this commission has no more credibility."
"I don't know how we can continue to have confidence, how people can continue to have confidence [in it]," she said.
PQ accused of sabotaging request
Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Claude Béchard suggested the PQ may have deliberately sabotaged its request to be part of the inquiry, in order to amplify the controversy surrounding the hearings.
"When you have something to say that's clear, that's the truth and you have no doubts about what you wish to say, the place where you say it isn't really important," said Béchard. "I think the problem is when you have not many things, or nothing, to say."
Former Liberal Justice Minister Marc Bellemare sparked a firestorm in Quebec City when earlier this year, he alleged he was pressured to name certain judges to the bench while sitting in Premier Jean Charest's cabinet.
Bellemare says he was given names based on recommendations of major Liberal Party fundraisers. The former minister has refused to testify at the commission.
Charest ordered the commission in April. It started its work on Monday.
With files from the CBC's Tim Duboyce