Rights and Democracy: Tickety-boo, Ladies and Gents! Tickety Freaking Boo!

From a news release, Oct. 18, 2010 [emphasis added for what I believe you will soon agree are essentially comedic purposes]:

Rights & Democracy overhauls its management team and announces new directions

MONTREAL – October 18, 2010 – Gérard Latulippe, President of Rights & Democracy, today announced that Stéphane Bourgon, Maxime Poulin and Martin Fortier are joining the organization’s management team: Mr. Bourgon as Senior Director, Communications, Government Affairs and Strategic Planning… These new members of the management team assume their duties today. “There is no doubt that these three new directors will breathe new life into our organization, with their extensive experience and skills in several different areas,” said Mr. Latulippe. …

I am counting on the people whose appointments I am announcing today and on the vast experience each one has developed throughout his career to implement our new guidelines and strategic choices and to oversee our recovery. I’m also convinced that all of our dedicated staff and professionals will give this new team their full cooperation,” added Mr. Latulippe…

Stéphane Bourgon, Ad.E, CD, B.Adm, LL.B, LL.M, completed a Master’s Degree in International Law at the Université de Montréal, a Bachelor of Law at Université Laval and a Bachelor of Business Administration at the Royal Military College Saint-Jean/Université de Sherbrooke. Formerly a logistics officer and legal advisor with the Canadian Forces, Mr. Bourgon began his legal career with the office of the Judge-Advocate General, where he was responsible for coordination and training senior officers in international humanitarian law.

Mr. Bourgon went on to serve as advisor in international law to the office of the Prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague and chef de cabinet for the office of the President-Chief Justice. He was then asked by the clerk of the Tribunal to represent accused persons unable to pay their legal costs. In the two years leading up to his appointment at Rights & Democracy, Mr. Bourgon also practiced law in Rwanda and the Central African Republic. A recognized specialist in international humanitarian and criminal law, he has also taught at the Université du Québec à Montréal and at the Académie des droits de l’homme et du droit humanitaire in Geneva. He has taken part in numerous conferences as an expert and published many specialized articles. In 2009, he was awarded the title of avocat émérite by the Quebec Bar.

I contest none of this description. I’m just wondering why yesterday, as Rights and Democracy threatened to come teetering back into the news, I began receiving emails on today’s testimony from Sebastien Théberge.

“Hey Paul,” the first one began, “I’ll be your man on this one.”

The familiar tone is reasonable. Like most reporters who’ve been here longer than five years, I know Seb Théberge, who used to work for Liberal foreign minister Pierre Pettigrew. He was part of the large, competent and friendly media operation for the Vancouver Olympics and has apparently fetched up at a large Montreal PR firm. And he has become, at a minimum, the fourth person doing communications for Rights and Democracy this year, and the second outside hire.

The first was Charles Vallerand, a long-time R&D staff member whom the current regime fired; with his colleagues he is suing the organization. The second was Peter Stockland, who ran (runs?) Prima Communications, which R&D contracted without tender at considerable cost to the taxpayer and which put out one news release before merging his little think tank thingie with a little think tank thingie run by Michael van Pelt, a member of the R&D board.

Stockland’s little think tang thingie, I read here, “historically brought together the best intellectual minds to generate ideas that have consequences. The result is a set of arguments with gravitas and intellectual capital used successfully with the Supreme Court, in Parliament and by countless cultural influencers and commentators.” What Stockland’s communications shop apparently wasn’t great at was communicating for Rights and Democracy, because a few months after the merger between his think shop and van Pelt’s, Latulippe hired the much-credentialled Stéphane Bourgon, supra.

Bourgon’s first day of work was eight weeks ago. His employers are already calling in reinforcements. I have asked Théberge whether his contract was won through a competitive tender process and whether it was for an amount that normally requires a competitive tender. I’ll pass along any answers. In the meantime, here’s the latest email from Théberge:

“Mr. Latulippe will not comment the content of the [Deloitte audit] report or the content of the discussions in camera before the hearing as it would be inappropriate to do so.

“However, Mr. Latulippe will recommend to the Committee that a redacted version of the report be made public in the days following the hearing.”



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