Callaway case: alleged conflict of interest against two lawyers, including a former minister

According to Cameron Davies, his lawyer Dale Fedorchuk was in cahoots with his partner at Guardian Law, Jonathan Denis, to ensure that he received the majority of the blame at the end of this investigation. Jeff Callaway ran as a candidate to help Jason Kenney win the United Conservative Party leadership race against his main challenger, Brian Jean.

I suspect, but have no proof, that the advice I was receiving was intended to scapegoat me. »

A quote from Cameron Davies, to the Alberta Elections Commissioner’s Investigators

Cameron Davies alleges that Dale Fedorchuk and Jonathan Denis, a former Alberta justice minister, are placed in a conflict of interest by representing him at the same time as Jeff Callaway, when they worked for the same firm. Cameron Davies believes that they would have exchanged confidential information, in violation of their professional secrecy, and Dale Fedorchuk would have acted without the consent of Cameron Davies on several occasions.

Cameron Davies’ allegations, which have not been proven in court, are contained in transcripts and summaries of interviews the Alberta Elections Commissioner conducted in 2019. Elections Alberta says it cannot confirm if the investigation is still ongoing, in order to maintain its independence and integrity.

The interviews are part of court documents filed in court as part of the legal challenge to a fine issued by the commissioner in this case.

Cameron Davies says he has not filed a complaint with the Law Society of Alberta against these two lawyers, but says he is still considering doing so.

Contacted about these allegations on several occasions, Jonathan Denis and Dale Fedorchuk claim that they cannot provide comments in order to protect their professional secrecy. Cameron Davies provided us with an email addressed to his former lawyers at Guardian Law in which he waives this privilege, in order to authorize them to speak about it, but neither Dale Fedorchuk nor Jonathan Denis wished to do so.

I am bound by the ethics of my Code of Business Conduct. I closely follow all my ethical obligations. I will not comment furtherreplies Dale Fedorchuk, who is no longer associated with the firm Guardian Law.

We cannot comment on matters subject to professional secrecy, including the identity of our current and past clients and that any information relating to them, writes Guardian Law in an email, on behalf of Jonathan Denis. The firm adds that it has not been named in court on this subject.

Jonathan Denis was also embarrassed last week for two controversies. This ex-Minister of Justice allegedly tried to obtain the sources of a journalist, which he denies, and was found guilty of contempt of court for having tried to intimidate the complainant from a trial.

A client who doubts his lawyer’s motives

For a few months in 2019, investigators from the Alberta Elections Commissioner attempted to interview Cameron Davies, to no avail. On March 15, Cameron Davies decides to meet the investigators, after having learned disturbing revelations about his lawyer until then, Dale Fedorchuk, of the firm Guardian Law. He comes to the meeting with a lawyer friend, Lindsay Amantea, whom he says he called for emergency reinforcement.

He then explains to the investigators that he has lost confidence in his previous lawyer. According to him, Dale Fedorchuk canceled, without his consent, an interview scheduled with the investigators the day before.

For him, it was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Cameron Davies told investigators he previously learned that Jonathan Denis was representing Jeff Callaway, whose interests ran counter to his own. The commissioner of elections was also trying to interview Jeff Callaway, without success.

Jason Kenney’s team (right) even wrote the speech Jeff Callaway (left) gave when he announced he was stepping down from the United Conservative Party leadership race in support of Jason Kenney.

Photo: Jason Kenney Campaign

According to Cameron Davies, his lawyer was in a conflict of interest from the start. He says he was contacted in early 2019 by Jonathan Denis, former Progressive Conservative Minister of Justice from 2012 to 2015, who returned to the practice of law after his stint in politics. The latter, says Cameron Davies, convinced him to allow himself to be represented by his firm Guardian Law and assigned his partner Dale Fedorchuk as his lawyer.

Dale Fedorchuk then advised him not to cooperate with the commissioner’s investigators, according to Cameron Davies. In his opinion, this is what earned him the $15,000 fine imposed on him by the commissioner for obstructing the investigation.

On this subject, interviewer Dave Jennings writes in his interview summary: there were veiled threats against [Cameron Davies] if he cooperated and participated in the investigation.

I wouldn’t say it falls into the category of bullyingCameron Davies told investigators. But certainly the individuals depicted are very powerful, very influential people. Not just them, but also their lawyers.

In early 2020, Radio-Canada learned that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police had opened an investigation into allegations of financial malfeasance by Jeff Callaway’s campaign. Federal law enforcement believed donors to Jeff Callaway may have been victims of fraud. The investigation is still ongoing.

A lawyer who allegedly acted against his client’s will

Cameron Davies and his new lawyer, Lindsay Amantea, also expressed concern that Jonathan Denis had been copied on several emails containing privileged information that Dale Fedorchuk had sent to his client. Cameron Davies provided Radio-Canada with several of these emails.

During the interview with the investigators, Lindsay Amantea offered to show them one of these emails. According to her, it could be a breach of professional secrecy.

As a lawyer, I feel like he acted inappropriately Lindsay Amantea told investigators, according to the interview transcript.[Jonathan Denis] was not involved in Mr. Davies’ case and I believe he was trying to help others involved in the situation.

Cameron Davies also alleges that Dale Fedorchuk acted against his will and without his consent several times, such as sending letters to the Commissioner of Elections and a statement to CBC/Radio-Canada without his permission on the day of the interview with investigators. .

Possible violation of a constitutional right

Assistant Professor at the University of Calgary Faculty of Law Gideon Christian sees this as problematic on several levels.

First, he explains that the code of conduct for lawyers prohibits them from representing different parties in an open dispute. However, a law firm may represent individuals with competing business interests, provided it sets up a Great Wall of China between the lawyers representing the various parties.

Here, there does not seem to be any argument between the two individuals [Jeff Callaway et Cameron Davies]but their interests are opposedanalyzes Gideon Christian.

In this situation, the law firm should have put in place a structure to prevent confidential information from being exchanged between the two lawyers representing the different individuals, according to him.

Gideon Christian judges that this is not what was done, since the lawyers seemed to communicate with each other regularly, which would put them in conflict of interest.

When you are in a conflict of interest, your advice, your actions, your representation are negatively affected by the obligation you have to a third party whose interests may conflict with those of your client. If you’re trying to please your customer, you can’t please the third party. If you try to please this third party, you will do so at the expense of your customer.explains Gideon Christian.

He adds that the sharing of information between two lawyers is not only a violation of the lawyers’ code of ethics, but also a violation of the professional secrecy of the lawyer, a right enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Gideon Christian recalls that the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in 2002 on a similar case, in which a lawyer let the lawyer of an opposing party attend a meeting with his client.

The Supreme Court was very clear that the [premier] lawyer was in conflict of interest and that one cannot be the slave of two mastersexplains Gideon Christian.

In his opinion, the Law Society of Alberta will have to analyze whether it undertakes its own investigation in this case, even in the absence of a formal complaint.

With the collaboration of Carolyn Dunn (CBC)

Leave a Comment