CANADA

Gentleman and sleuth

MARY JANIGAN September 1 1986
CANADA

Gentleman and sleuth

MARY JANIGAN September 1 1986

Gentleman and sleuth

Shortly before public hearings into conflict-of-interest allegations began against former industry minister Sinclair Stevens, commission counsel David Scott was interviewing potential witnesses. “I hear that you’re very thorough,” one woman remarked with a smile. Then, a few weeks after the inquiry began producing dramatic headlines, Scott and his staff met the woman again. Her abrupt and frosty

answers were eloquent testimony to Scott’s thoroughness.

Since the hearings under Ontario High Court Judge William Parker started on July 14, Scott and his 18member team have unearthed often damaging revelations from a succession of employees and associates of the Stevens’s family business empire. That tenacity has catapulted him into the national spotlight. Declared Scott: “If people are surprised about the vigor of the inquiry, they’re living in a dream world. An inquiry under the Inquiries Act is a serious business—the facts will be uncovered.”

Scott was clearly both a clever and an expedient choice as chief counsel. After Parker’s appointment last May, opposition MPs questioned his objectivity, noting that he was the former president of the Conservative riding

association of Hamilton West. The judge, according to commission sources, was deeply offended by the suggestion of political partisanship and swiftly named Scott, a prominent Liberal with the Ottawa firm of Scott & Aylen, as chief counsel.

Although Scott was hardly a national figure, his legal credentials were impeccable. His father, grandfather and great-grandfather were lawyers—and his brother, Ian, is the attorney general of Ontario. Since the mid1960s federal Liberals have turned to him with legal problems. He even handled former prime minister Pierre Trudeau’s divorce from Margaret.

At the inquiry, Scott, 50, has impressed many observers not only with tough questions but with courtly manners, careful research—and a topnotch legal team. The group includes Toronto criminal lawyer Marlys Edwardh, 36, skilled in litigation; and constitutional and commercial lawyer Edward Belobaba, 37. As well, Scott has recruited two forensic accountants and Ontario Provincial Police Det. 9 Insp. Douglas Ormsby. ' Scott said the team sim| ply analysed who should z be interviewed and what i documents were required. “It was quite conventional work,” he added. Still, their efforts have been exhaustive: they have already interrogated 21 witnesses, and 24 others are scheduled to take the stand before the inquiry ends, likely in mid-October.

Senior Conservatives have followed Scott’s endeavors with a mixture of admiration and concern. One senior Tory insider, who asked not to be identified, said that many party members have begun to distance themselves from Stevens—and they are concerned each time that Scott peers dubiously over his reading glasses at another unco-operative witness. “Scott is very meticulous—and this inquiry has a life of its own,” he said. “He is gnawing around the underbrush, sniffing for a smoking pistol.” And Scott usually finds what he’s looking for.

-MARY JANIGAN in Toronto