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Quebec lawyer appointed new counsel in Douglas inquiry

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A star litigation lawyer from Quebec has been appointed the new independent counsel for the Lori Douglas inquiry.

Suzanne Côté, the head of litigation at the Montreal offices of the law firm Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt, replaces Ottawa lawyer Guy Pratte, who quit last month.

Côté is a commercial litigation specialist, but has also done a lot of work in the area of judicial reviews. She became well known in Quebec in part as the lawyer representing the Quebec government in a commission investigating whether there was political interference in the appointment of Quebec judges.

The inquiry will decide whether Douglas should remain on the bench after allegations were made public she and her husband, Jack King, together sexually harassed Alex Chapman, one of King’s former clients, then paid him to keep quiet.

Douglas denies any wrongdoing, saying only King was involved with Chapman, and she did reveal the incident when she was being vetted for the bench.

The inquiry began in July, nearly two years after the initial accusations were made against Douglas. However, it has been on hold since July 26 because both Pratte and Douglas’s lawyer filed separate motions in federal court about it.

Pratte asked the court to prevent George Macintosh, the lawyer representing the inquiry committee, from asking further questions and to have all evidence from his previous questions stricken from the record.

Pratte resigned just days after he filed the motion.

There is no date yet for the inquiry to resume.

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