Vic Toews's career controversies: From unpaid rent to campaign overspending

Vic Toews's career controversies: From unpaid rent to campaign overspending

Over the course of a high-profile legal and political career, Vic Toews has served as a Crown attorney, a cabinet minister at both the provincial and federal level and also as a Queen's Bench judge.

His success in law and politics, however, has been accented by controversy. Here are some of the issues Toews has been forced to contend with over the past two decades.

1. Manitoba election overspending

In 2005, while he was serving as a federal opposition MP, Toews pleaded guilty to overspending on his campaign spending limit in the 1999 Manitoba election by $7,500. At the time, he said he had a misunderstanding with the provincial Progressive Conservative party's central campaign office.

The overspending could not, however, be construed as affecting the result on election day. Toews lost the race for Rossmere to the NDP's Harry Schellenberg by 294 votes.

2. 'Tell Vic everything'

As Canada's public safety minister in 2012, it was Toews's job to defend an online surveillance bill that would grant police more powers to extract information from internet service providers.

During the debate, he told a Liberal critic he could "either stand with us or with the child pornographers." The ensuing furore led to the rise of a satirical Twitter hashtag called #TellVicEverything, which saw Canadians post mundane minutiae about their day-to-day lives.

More seriously, an anonymous Twitter account began posting details of Toews' personal life, apparently using unproven allegations culled from a divorce affidavit.

Toews condemned the invasion of his privacy but backed away from his previous debate rhetoric.

"If fair-minded Canadians have come to the conclusion that my comments in that respect that I made in the heat of parliamentary debate were not appropriate, I'm prepared to accept their judgment," Toews told CBC Radio's The House at the time.

3. Loyer en retard

In 2015, as a Manitoba judge, Toews tried to prevent his wages from being garnished to allow his former Gatineau, Que. landlord to recover about $3,900 in unpaid rent.

Toews tried to argue he didn't realize what was going on because he couldn't read French-only documents from Quebec's rental tribunal.

A judge determined Toews should have known better, given his current and previous positions.

"More than anyone, he should be in a position to understand the respect and attention that should be paid to a document titled 'DECISION,'" Pierre Gagnon wrote with the Regie du Logement.

4. The Peguis affair

Around the same time Toews had to contend with Quebec's rental tribunal, the former cabinet minister was subject to an investigation by Canada's ethics minister.

Within months of leaving cabinet, the former treasury board president met with a lawyer representing Peguis First Nation several times regarding a settlement of the Kapyong barracks, according to court documents.

Conflict-of-interest rules prohibit former cabinet ministers from giving advice on or consulting about confidential information they found out while in government. Last week, the ethics commissioner determined Toews broke conflict-of-interest rules.

The Canadian Judicial Council plans to review Toews's actions. In the meantime, he has rejected the ethics commissioner's conclusions.