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Sentencing arguments for ex-student rep Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois

QUEBEC – Lawyer Maxime Roy called for a 30-day prison sentence or 150 hours of community work for Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois Friday at a pre-sentence hearing on Nadeau-Dubois’ contempt of court conviction.

Giuseppe Sciortino, representing Nadeau-Dubois, argued his client should not be sentenced to “even one hour in prison” saying imprisonment would make him a “scapegoat.”

If community work is imposed, Sciortino suggested no more than 20 hours, or perhaps a small fine, adding that the judge has the option of imposing no punishment as well.

Roy, representing Jean-François Morasse, said that an April video of a speech by Nadeau-Dubois denigrates the profession of law.

Morasse sought and won a contempt of court judgment against Nadeau-Dubois, arguing that by urging students to block access to his classroom during Quebec’s tuition dispute, the student representative defied a court injunction he won, allowing him to enter his class at Université Laval.

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Roy had asked to show the video during the trial but Justice Denis Jacques of Superior Court agreed then with defence lawyer Giuseppe Sciortino that it was not admissible.

Jacques ruled Friday that at the pre-sentence stage, the video was admissible.

In his speech, Nadeau-Dubois – then the spokesperson for CLASSE – thanked then premier Jean Charest for giving students confidence in themselves by creating conditions for a student “strike.”

He also said students opposed to those who wanted to return to class had the right to block “those with parents rich enough to hire a lawyer.”

Nadeau-Dubois faces a maximum fine of $50,000 and a year in jail. He says he will seek an appeal.

His supporters have ponied up $85,300 for his legal costs after he asked the public for help to pay his fees.

Jacques said he would deliberate on the sentence, weighing “the facts and the law,” and would hand down his ruling soon.QUEBEC – Closing arguments begin Friday in the contempt of court case against Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, following a complaint by Université Laval student Jean-François Morasse alleging the former student leader urged other students to stop Morasse from returning to class in May.

Morasse, who was enrolled in a plastic arts certificate program in Laval’s visual arts program, said in testimony that he left an April meeting of the student association called to vote in favour of strike action.

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The strike vote was in protest against the Charest government’s plan to raise university tuition fees by $1,788 over five years.

Quebec’s new Parti Québécois government has cancelled the hike and will hold a summit in the new year on university funding and accessibility. Premier Pauline Marois has said she favours indexing tuition to the cost of living.

Nadeau-Dubois lost the first round Thursday when Justice Denis Jacques of Quebec Superior Court rejected a motion by Giuseppe Sciortino, the lawyer acting for Nadeau-Dubois, to throw out the case.

Sciortino argued that Nadeau-Dubois had to have “real personal knowledge” that the injunction had been issued and that since Nadeau-Dubois was not specifically named in the injunction, he was not bound by its terms.

Sciortino called one witness, Marie-Pier Bloquet, president of the Association des étudiants en arts plastiques de l’Université Laval, the student association named in the injunction.

He asked Bloquet whether she knew Nadeau-Dubois and whether he was made aware of the injunction. Bloquet answered no to both questions.

“There is no proof that he (Nadeau-Dubois) knew,” Sciortino said earlier, arguing that the case be thrown out.

“He had nothing to do with efforts to block access to the plastic arts faculty.”

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Justice Jacques interrupted Sciortino several times as he tried to make his case, before establishing a link.

The judge noted that the Association des étudiants en arts plastiques de l’Université Laval belonged to the Coalition large de l’Association syndicale pour une solidarité étudiante, and that Nadeau-Dubois was a spokesperson for the CLASSE.

The court viewed a video of an RDI interview with Léo Bureau-Blouin, then a student leader, now a Parti Québécois MNA, and Nadeau-Dubois.

In the interview discussing the student strike, or boycott, the two answer questions about the state of negotiations and the length of the conflict.

Nadeau-Dubois says at one point that it is “totally legitimate” for students to picket classes, preventing others from entering.

Sciortino maintained that Nadeau-Dubois in the RDI interview was not addressing the case of Morasse, who testified that he has received “threats and insults.”

When Sciortino asked Morasse if he knew whether Nadeau-Dubois was aware of his injunction, Morasse answered he had “no reason to think he knew or did not know.”

Responding to Sciortino’s arguments, Maxime Roy, the lawyer representing Morasse, accused him of “intellectual dishonesty” for trying to say Nadeau-Dubois was unaware of the injunction.

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“He is named,” Roy said. “He can’t use the argument: ‘I did not know.'”

Earlier, Nadeau-Dubois told reporters: “I’m here today to prove the fact that I am innocent.

“I cannot deny that I said what I said,” he added.

“What we will say is that it does not constitute contempt of court, that it was an opinion, that it was the opinion of a student spokesman.

“It was not a voluntary attempt to block the course of justice.”