Ex-MP Bernard Valcourt pleads not guilty to obstructing, resisting police
One of northwest New Brunswick's best-known politicians has pleaded not guilty to charges of obstructing and resisting police.
Bernard Valcourt, a former MP who was a cabinet minister in the governments of prime ministers Brian Mulroney, Kim Campbell and Stephen Harper, did not appear in court Tuesday to enter the plea himself.
Instead lawyer Shawn Beaulieu entered the pleas.
It's not clear from the charges what exactly Valcourt is accused of doing.
According to information filed in court, Valcourt violated Section 129 of the Criminal Code on Oct. 4, 2022, when he "voluntarily obstructed" two Edmundston city police officers and "resisted" them as they were trying to do their work.
The Crown is seeking a summary conviction that would carry no jail time.
Provincial court judge Sebastien Michaud scheduled a two-day trial for Sept. 13-14 in Edmundston but said he will not hear the case himself.
In a sign of Valcourt's high profile in the area, both the trial judge and the Crown prosecutor will be from outside the province.
A prosecutor from Quebec, Liliane Laforest, appeared for the Crown on Tuesday.
Michaud said the court was opting for an out-of-province judge to avoid any perception of a conflict.
Valcourt had two stints as a federal MP, first from 1984 to 1993 as the MP for Madawaska-Victoria and then from 2011 to 2015 as MP for Madawaska-Restigouche.
Between those two periods, he was leader of the New Brunswick Progressive Conservative party, leading the party to defeat in the 1995 provincial election.
He was a senior minister in the Mulroney, Campbell and Harper governments. He resigned from the Mulroney cabinet in 1989 after pleading guilty following a drunk-driving accident but was reappointed in 1990.
His personal popularity in the region was always high, with a walking bridge over the Madawaska River named in his honour.
But in 2021 some local residents launched a petition to remove his name from the bridge after he accused media organizations of using a local doctor to feed a "campaign of terrorizing the public" about COVID-19.
In a Facebook post, he called the doctor's comments about conditions at the Edmundston Regional Hospital "the most irresponsible and gratuitous statement I've heard during the campaign of terror being fed by governments."
Valcourt deleted his social media accounts in response after the backlash to his comments.
"Society has reached the point where you don't have the right to say what you think," he told CBC News at the time.