Former justice minister Jonathan Denis cleared of contempt by Alberta's top court

EDMONTON — A former Alberta justice minister says he's relieved after the province's top court cleared him of contempt of court for witness intimidation.

In a ruling Monday from the Alberta Court of Appeal, the three-member panel said a lower court conviction of Jonathan Denis was "procedurally flawed."

Denis was found in contempt on April 13 after his law firm wrote a letter threatening to sue Anny Sauvageau, Alberta's former chief medical examiner, for defamation while she was giving testimony in her wrongful dismissal lawsuit against the province.

Sauvageau was suing the government for lost wages and benefits after her contract was not renewed in 2014, but has since dropped her lawsuit.

The trial judge who found Denis in contempt, Justice Doreen Sulyma, said the threatening letter to Sauvageau made her fearful of testifying plainly and honestly, and prompted another witness to beg off testifying altogether.

The Alberta Court of Appeal rejected that position.

"Mr. Denis is pleased to have this issue settled and the record cleared," Peter Sankoff, Denis's lawyer, said Tuesday.

Denis expressed his relief in a written statement.

“I am grateful to have this behind me and to see that justice has been served. There was never any intent to influence testimony," Denis said.

"As a member of the bar, I take the responsibilities of my profession very seriously. My goal is to conduct myself in a way that is positive and lawful. My deepest apologies to those who may have thought otherwise."

Denis was not named in the lawsuit, but was Alberta's justice minister from 2012 to 2015.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 1, 2022

The Canadian Press