Manitoba Justice reviewing audit's questions about Virginia Fontaine payments
- -------- Original Message --------
Subject: Manitoba Justice reviewing audit's questions about Virginia
Date: Sun, 1 Feb 2004 18:22:14 -0500
From: Russell Diabo <rdiabo@...>
January 31, 2004
Manitoba Justice reviewing audit's questions about Virginia Fontaine
WINNIPEG (CP) -- Manitoba Justice says it is looking into questions
raised about a provincial magistrate in a forensic audit of the Virginia
Fontaine Addictions Foundation, says the Winnipeg Free Press in a report
out of Ottawa.
"As it now stands, with regard to the issue of magistrate Ken
Courchene, Manitoba Justice is reviewing the audit report to determine
if there is a basis for a complaint to the chief judge of the provincial
court," said department spokeswoman Diane Coble-Kendall.
"This review will be completed within days."
The newspaper said that in the confidential report, auditors flagged
some payments to Courchene, the former chief executive officer of the
native treatment centre, as "unusual" and lacking in "business rationale."
The audit said Courchene was paid $390,000 in salary and payments over
a 29-month period.
David Newman, Courchene's lawyer, said his client did nothing wrong and
that all payments received were due to him.
"He was, in effect, always doing what he was asked to do and what he
was paid to do," said Newman.
The lawyer said nothing in the report prevents his client from
performing his job as magistrate.
Tory justice critic Gerald Hawranik said the audit raises too many
questions for Courchene to continue the largely voluntary position,
which pays $75 a month.
"I think the honourable thing for him would be to resign and failing
that the Justice Department should rescind his appointment or put it
into suspension," Hawranik said.
Courchene is named in a $5-million civil suit Health Canada filed in
December 2000 in an effort to recoup tax dollars it alleges were
misspent at the treatment centre at Sagkeeng First Nation.
Courchene has been interviewed by the RCMP but police say he is not
under investigation in their massive fraud probe which stretches from
the Virginia Fontaine Addictions Foundation to Health Canada
headquarters in Ottawa.
Courchene was appointed a community magistrate in 2002 for the Sagkeeng
and Pine Falls area. As a magistrate, Courchene can issue summons, take
oaths, hear bail applications and authorize search warrants that police
need to conduct raids.
(Winnipeg Free Press)
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