Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff had to deal with candidate problems for the second day in a row Thursday, following comments by Wild Rose (Alta.) Liberal hopeful John Reilly during a radio interview.
Reilly, a former judge, suggested that not all sexual assaults need be punished with jail time.
“There are sexual assaults and there are sexual assaults,” he opined on the Dave Rutherford show. Oops.
Reilly issued an apology and Ignatieff spent most of his morning press contact answering questions about it.
Curiously, Reilly’s campaign website was still flagging his appearance on Rutherford as evidence of his surging popularity in Wild Rose, where he is trying to defeat Conservative incumbent Blake Richards.
“In the last week alone, he has already been featured in the National Post, Global TV, The Rutherford Show, and the Calgary Herald.”
The same website explains Reilly’s departure from the Alberta bench:
“He’s so disgusted by the proposed Conservative Justice Initiatives that he has resigned his judicial appointment in order to take his concerns to Ottawa and better represent our riding.”
It does not mention, however, another apparent object of disgust: his old boss’s refusal to pay for a trip to Switzerland.
In 2001, Reilly, then on the bench of the Provincial Court of Alberta, took the Chief Judge of Alberta to court for refusing an expense claim. Reilly wanted to use the $2,500 allowance allotted judges annually for professional development to travel to Caux, Switzerland, for a session on “Peace Building Initiatives.” Reilly argued that the session would help broker peace between three Alberta First Nations chiefs who were also going to Caux.
The Chief Justice told Reilly the trip didn’t fit the requirements for professional development under the allowance scheme, but told him he was free to go on his own dime.
Reilly asked for judicial review of the decision, lost, and then took it to the Alberta Court of Appeal. The court finally tossed the case in 2008.
Cost to Alberta taxpayers to litigate? Unknown.
Reilly’s campaign headquarters said Thursday that he was out knocking on doors and unavailable to comment.