THE BROSSARD COMMISSION: WINDOW DRESSING ?
There are those who go after Maurice Duplessis, there are those who attempt to belittle the works of the Brossard Commission and there are those who cast doubt on the integrity of the Honourable Justice Roger Brossard. He was a great jurist. As a man of superior intelligence, he compelled recognition from all his peers. In 1921, he became a Rhodes Scholar. He was justice of the Superior Court from 1950 to 1964 and of the Court of Appeal from 1964 to 1976. He was also professor at the Faculty of Law of the University of Montreal. I was then a young lawyer and professor of law. I remember him for his legal turn of mind.
In 1964, a Royal Commission of enquiry on the Coffin affair was instituted by the Lesage government. As we know, it was presided over by the Honourable Justice Roger Brossard of the Superior Court.
Notices were published in newspapers inviting all those who had something to say about the Coffin affair to come forward.
The Brossard Commission has heard 214 witnesses in the Coffin affair. It held 67 PUBLIC SITTINGS, covered by local and national medias, sat for 415 hours and received 436 exhibits.
The testimonies heard amounted to 16 041 pages of transcripts.
MANY INVESTIGATIONS WERE MADE ON BEHALF OF THE COMMISSION:
a) by the Vancouver Police (1)
b) by the Toronto Police (6)
c) by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (3)
d) by the Provincial Police (32)
e) by the attorney for the Commission (23)
f) by the concerted effort of the Provincial Police, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the Toronto Police, the Pennsylvania State Police, the New Jersey State Police and the Plainfield, New Jersey, Municipal Police (1)
At the very beginning of the Enquiry, Jacques Hébert’s counsels, Pierre Eliot Trudeau and Raymond Daoust objected to the role played by the police. According to them, captain Jean-Claude Vanhoutte, one of those Hébert was accusing of being an assassin, should not be in charge of investigating for the Commission. His role amounted, so they pretended, to investigating on himself, on his former colleague captain Raoul Sirois and on his boss, inspector general Alphonse Matte. In short, the Brossard Commission was in conflict of interest.
Those who still use those objections have never taken knowledge of the police reports above mentioned. I bring to your attention that twenty-three investigations were made by Jules Deschênes, Q.C., counsel for the Commission. Not long ago, I was authorized by the COMMISSIONS D’ACCÈS À L’INFORMATION, to examine all those police reports.
Since I began my research in the Coffin Affair, I noticed that a lot of people write on this subject without having obtained and read the relevant documents. They seem to delight in gossiping. Indeed, a great many write, affirm, declare, enunciate, facts based on hearsay and obviously without having read the relevant documents. After all those years, how is it, that I am the first one to have asked permission to see those police files? Do they wish to imitate late Jacques Hébert’s example. Like him, they do not need to read those documents to write about the Coffin affair. It is no wonder so many people are thrown into confusion!