I haven’t recapped everything of Curt Flanagan’s testimony that I had hoped. Some of it is just too darn convoluted. I started on some portions and eventually gave up. I suggest people read the sections of transcript pertaining to the absolute discharge – pp 28 to 65.
Apologies, this blog is a bit longer than I wanted it to be, but, it’s time to post it and get it out of my hair. I just found that the more I read of the transcript the more I was digging around other documents trying to put pieces together, and there’s no lack of pieces lying around. And the more I read the more I am getting a sense of what was happening back in the early 90s and onward. David Silmser and Perry, and the others who rubbed shoulders with them, didn’t stand a chance. Not a chance. Not a snowball’s chance.
Anyway, here goes. Some thoughts and observations and notes from Curt Flanagan’s testimony.
(1) What a scandal that would have been!
I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to click on this, but on Friday it was suddenly crystal clear to me how terribly problematic it would have been had Malcolm MacDonald gone to trial on the obstruction of justice charge.
First, Cornwall Crown Murray MacDonald would have definitely been called as a witness. In an 28 October 1994 OPP interview, Malcolm MacDonald said that he had been asked by a representative of the diocese to call David Silmser about the “settlement,” and that before he made the call he met with Crown Attorney Murray MacDonald and ‘explained the whole situation to him’. According to Malcolm, Murray MacDonald said ‘well, that’s fine. Do what you want to do.’
Murray would definitely have to have taken to stand to give his account of what exactly Malcolm had told him, and what he in turn told Malcolm.
Second, Sean Adams would definitely have to have taken the stand. Adams would without doubt have been called to recount any and all conversations and communications he had had with Malcolm regarding the payoff. He would probably also have found himself explaining how he managed to read and explain the Full Release and Undertaking Not to Disclose to Dave without noticing the illegal clause.
Third, Jacques Leduc would definitely have been called to testify. Leduc would also without doubt have been called to recount any and all conversations and communications he had had with Malcolm regarding the payoff, and in particular regarding his input to the wording for the release. And he would have found himself explaining why he as a trained lawyer failed to open an envelope containing the signed release in order to ensure all was according to hoyle. He would probably also have been asked what if any communication he had had with Sean Adams before the release was signed.
Fourth, Bishop Eugene Larocque would definitely have been called to testify. Larocque would without doubt have been called to recount his instructions to Leduc as well as his conversations with Father Charles MacDonald,Malcolm MacDonald and Jacques Leduc regarding the pay-off. And he would have found himself explaining how it was that he allegedly never laid eyes on the signed release until after word of the pay-off was all over town and in the news. He too would probably also have been asked what if any communication he had with Sean Adams before the release was signed.
Fourth, Father Charles MacDonald would probably have been called to testify. Charlie would without doubt have been called to recount his instructions to his lawyer Malcolm regarding the pay-off, as well as any and all conversations he had had with the bishop, and Jacques Leduc and Sean Adams
Can you imagine? What a scandal that would have been! One Roman Catholic priest, one Roman Catholic bishop, one popular local Roman Catholic lawyer and another Roman Catholic lawyer and canon lawyer for the church – all witnesses and implicated in some fashion in the dirty business of an illegal pay-off of an “alleged” victim of clerical sexual abuse. In 1995? Long before people knew the half of the circumstances surrounding the pay-off?
I can see why every effort would have been made to avert a trial at all costs.
My goodness even the “trial” which was was sprinted out of the Cornwall and off up the road to Ottawa. Malcolm gained his absolute discharge in Ottawa. Not Cornwall. Ottawa.
How many Cornwallites even knew that Malcolm was going to court that day? My guess is, his closet friends and those in the loop aside, not a single soul knew where Malcolm was 12 September 1995. People found out well after the fact. No chance then to sit in on those hearings. A lot of people would dearly love to have been there. But, no. No heads up. It was all done quietly. An hours drive up the road to Ottawa. Not much chance of someone from Cornwall inadvertently stumbling on Malcolm in the hallways or coffee bar at the Ottawa courthouse.
Why no notice to the interested and concerned public of the change of venue?
And then the nonsense with the transcripts. Top secret they were too. The word was they were not available to the public – something about Charter rights to privacy. Helen Dunlop managed to get them. Good for you Helen. From what I hear I don’t think those transcripts were ever supposed to see the light of day.
Why not? Why the secrecy?
So, think about.
Do you really think for one moment Malcolm would ever have gone to trial back in the mid 90s? When I really look at it now, I think not.
(2) Involved in the Thomas More Guild?
Yesterday I mentioned the Colin McKinnon-Curt Flanagan connection. I must add to that Curt Flanagan was raised Roman Catholic.
That raises a question for me. Was/is Flanagan involved in the Thomas More Guild? The guild was founded in 1984 with Colin McKinnon and Father Frank Morrissey as co-founders.
(3) More connections?
The Colin McKinnon-Curt Flanagan connection arises from McKinnon’s attendance at the January 1990 roast for Flanagan’s father, Thomas G. Flanagan, then Chief of Ottawa police.
Also at the roast was Dalton McGuinty, now Premier of Ontario and the man responsible for this “independent” “impartial” and “public” inquiry.” At the time Dalton McGuinty was a lawyer. He had not yet run for public office. I erred before. I thought he was an MPP when he attended the roast, but, no, it was later in 1990 that Dalton McGuinty ran for and won the riding of Ottawa South, a riding formerly held by his father, Dalton Sr.
Dalton McGuinty, also Roman Catholic, was raised in Ottawa. He graduated from Ottawa U with his LLB in 1981. He was called to the bar in 1983.
If you check back you will see that Curt Flanagan was called to the Bar in 1982. I am guessing that means he graduated in 1981, articled for a year and wrote his bar exams. Or did he graduate in 1980 and spend two years articling and studying?
If indeed Flanagan graduated in 1980 does that mean that he and now Premier Dalton McGuinty were U of Ottawa law school classmates? I think it’s reasonable to speculate that they may well have been.
That raises the question doesn’t it?: How well does Curt Flanagan know Premier Dalton McGuinty?
And, look at this….
Commissioner Normand Glaude, also Roman Catholic, attained his LLB from Ottawa U in 1980! One year before McGuinty for sure, and possibly one year before Flanagan – OR, or …..at the same time as Flanagan?
Does Glaude perchance know McGuinty and/or Flanagan from law school?
(3) Knows Murray better than some of the other Ontario Crowns
Flanagan knows Murray MacDonald, not, he says, too well, but better, he says, than Crowns who aren’t from the Eastern region:
MR. HORN: Okay. And Mr. MacDonald who is the Crown here in Cornwall, did you have a relationship with him, a close relationship with him?
MR. FLANAGAN: I have a professional relationship with Mr. MacDonald and I see him from time to time. I don’t — I mean, yeah, I know Murray MacDonald, yes.
MR. HORN: Okay.
MR. FLANAGAN: I don’t socialize with Murray MacDonald, I guess, if that’s what you’re asking.
MR. HORN: How about when you get to, let’s say, educational conferences and that sort of thing?
MR. FLANAGAN: Oh, yeah.
MR. HORN: And you’d get together?
MR. FLANAGAN: Oh, yeah.
MR. HORN: He’d be one of the — well, somebody that you would probably know?
MR. FLANAGAN: Oh, yes.
MR. HORN: When there is a lot of Crowns that get together?
MR. FLANAGAN: Oh, yes, yes.
MR. HORN: And so you would have maybe a little bit closer relationship with him than other Crowns in Ontario?
MR. FLANAGAN: Yes. I mean I think it’s fair to say I have a closer relationship with the Crown attorneys in the east region because we have frequent meetings and the same thing then other Crowns in Ontario, yes.
(4) Marcel Lalonde
The file of Roman Catholic school teacher Marcel Lalondewas transferred to the Brockville Crown’s office around May 1997.
Flanagan has no idea why the file was transferred to his office. He assigned it to an assistant Crown. That’s how it ended up with Claudette Wilhelm.
On 04 July 1997 Don Johnson, Crown turned defence lawyer, sent a letter to Flanagan regarding a bail review hearing for Lalonde.
(5) Flanagan had a finger in a lot of Cornwall pies
Curt Flanagan was involved in some capacity in a number of files related to the Cornwall sex abuse scandal and cover-up
In addition to Marcel Lalonde, the following files were referred to the Brockville Crown attorney’s office: Malcolm MacDonald, Bernard Sauve, Father Romeo Major, Keith Jodoin. Flanagan had some involvement in each file, even if just offering an opinion to an assistant Crown.
Most files seem to have been referred by Peter Griffiths, the Regional Director of Crowns.
The file of Jean Luc Leblanc also seems to have had some Flanagan input somewhere along the line, however there must be some charges pending there because the testimony related to the Leblanc file was held in camera to ensure it doesn’t interfere in any way with any on-going civil or criminal proceedings. I think it must be criminal because Don Johnson is involved somehow and he is a criminal defence lawyer
Finally, and last but by no means least, Flanagan seems to have been asked for legal opinions regarding sex abuse allegations against Father Charles MacDonald. There has been testimony to that effect from other witnesses.
He certainly was, as you can see below, in the loop.
In a 16 August 1995 letter Mike Fagan wrote to Tim Smith :
“Here are the copies of statements regarding the last complaint against Father Charlie. I’m sending a copy to Crown Attorney Curt Flanagan.”
In a 30 May 2002 letter to the Cornwall Chief of Police Pat Hall wrote:
“Both of the above interview reports were provided to Crown Attorney Curt Flanagan on 16th of August, 1995 for legal opinions.”
Flanagan says he does not recall that: “I don’t, actually. That’s not to say I didn’t give one. I just don’t recall it.”
(6) Forgot he was in the loop?
The 16 August 1995 statements copied to Curt Flanagan and referenced above would have been the sex abuse allegations of John MacDonald against Father Charlie.
When Malcolm received his absolute dischargein September 1995 Flanagan told Judge Lennox in part that an absolute discharge was warranted because no charges had been laid against Charlie (“it is not irrelevant that the police down the road, for lack of a better expression, decided not to lay criminal charges”) and because of Malcolm’s exemplary background
Under cross-examination on Friday past Dallas Lee (Victims Group) asked Flanagan if he had any knowledge of John MacDonald’s complaint in September 1995
MR. LEE: We’ve had evidence here from a man named John MacDonald and we know that he came forward with allegations of his own against Charles MacDonald in August of 1995, about a month before this plea of guilty. Do you recall whether you had any knowledge of that at the time that you were speaking to Justice Lennox here?
MR. FLANAGAN: To my knowledge, I didn’t.
As we saw earlier, Flanagan had in fact been copied. Unless the statement went awry, Flanagan knew about it when he went in pleading for Malcolm’s cause.
Under cross Flanagan also denied knowledge that in September 1995 he knew charges might be pending against Charlie or that an investigation was on-going:
MR. LEE: … I’m specifically concerned with September 12th, 1995. You had been given no indication as of that date that charges may be pending or that charges were contemplated or that an investigation may be ongoing?
MR. FLANAGAN: Not to my knowledge, no.
MR. LEE: Okay.As far as you knew, on September 12th, 1995 the issue was dead; charges would not be laid?
MR. FLANAGAN: In relation to the Silmser?
MR. LEE: Yes.
MR. FLANAGAN: Yes, yeah.
Could it be any clearer that an investigation was on-going – and that Flanagan was in the loop and being copied with the statements of men alleging sexual abuse by Father Charles MacDonald. By the time Flanagan headed to the Ottawa courtroom on Malcolm’s behalf he had received, I do believe, three statements from three complaints against Charlie.
And yet, on the witness stand at the inquiry, Flanagan testified that, to his knowledge he didn’t know about John MacDonald’s sex abuse allegations, not did he know about the other sex abuse allegations against Charlie!
This is the Crown who, in 1995, had apparently been asked for his legal opinion on the allegations against Charlie, and who within a matter of weeks was quite happy to give accolades and push for an absolute discharge for Malcolm because, as he told Judge Lennox, Malcolm MacDonald had an exemplary background and because “it is not irrelevant that the police down the road, for lack of a better expression, decided not to lay criminal charges”!
(7) Murray MacDonald had a finger on the Malcolm pulse
Malcolm MacDonald and Jacques Leduc had both spoken to Cornwall Crown Murray MacDonald about the $32,000 pay-off before it transpired. Despite this Murray MacDonald apparently reviewed the file.
A decision had been made by police and apparently Murray that Malcolm and Malcolm alone would be charged. Neither Jacques Leduc nor Sean Adams were charged.
Flanagan testified that Malcolm’s file came to him via the Regional Director’s office “because it was a local lawyer charged in Cornwall and they couldn’t do the prosecution.” The regional director of the Eastern Region was Peter Griffiths, now Justice Peter Griffiths.
Although Griffiths presumably directed Malcolm’s file to Flanagan, Murray was still involved.
It was Murray MacDonald who wrote a letter to Malcolm’s lawyer, a Mr. Wakefield, advising that the case had been transferred to Flanagan and that Flanagan would personally have carriage of the file. According to Flanagan the Murray-Wakefield contact transpired because Wakefield was looking for disclosure and had gone to Murray.
On top of that after Malcolm’s file had been transferred because of conflict or whatever, Flanagan wrote to Murray MacDonald asking that either Guy Simard or Lynn Robinson – both assistant Crowns in Cornwall! – act “as an agent” for Malcolm’s first court appearance! This despite the fact the file had been transferred to Flanagan specifically because it involved a local lawyer and therefore presumably required an outside Crown.
(Griffiths is taking the stand today. Now a judge Griffiths has had his finger in the Cornwall scandal and cover-up from day one.)
(8) What did the Law Society of Upper Canada do?
I got a bit lost over what was happening with testimony regarding who was reporting Malcolm to the Law Society of Upper Canada. It sounded as though Flanagan was telling the judge that he, Flanagan, was going to report him, and then it sounded as though Wakefield said he had already reported.
For those who are as befuddled as I was, I re-read Judge Lennox’s decision and, on page 10 see that Wakefield said he contacted the society to advise there was a possibility of legal action against Malcolm. During that call he was told that someone had independently notified the society about Malcolm. That was obviously done before Malcolm entered his guilty plea, and it is clear that neither Flanagan or Wakefield filed the complaint.
It is unknown who filed the complaint.
After learning the Society had been notified Wakefield apparently submitted some ‘facts’ to the law society which he considered of import. Flanagan testified he has no idea what they were. He also testified that neither he nor any other Crown was ever contacted by an investigator or Discipline Council in relation to the matter. He has no idea if any action was taken by the society.
What facts did Wakefield submit? We have no idea. After reading Wakefield’s submissions at “trial” I doubt that it would be anything that would put the former Crown in too bad a light.
We do know however that Wakefield told Lennox that he, Wakefield, asked the people at the Law Society what “impact” this might have on Malcolm’s professional standing. The society folk declined to answer, but, as you can see when he relates his “feeling” about it to the judge, Wakefield wasn’t too terribly concerned that the Law Society would be hard on Malcolm:
“…if I were to make a summary or have a feeling about what their position would be, it’s that they would not take further action against him on these facts.”
I have heard nothing to indicate that the Law Society took any disciplinary action whatsoever against Malcolm. Perhaps I missed it? Or perhaps Wakefiled was right? Nothing was done?
A final point on this…
In his ruling Lennox pondered for a jiffy whether or not the joint position taken by Crown and defence “is in some way contrary to public interest or would tend to bring the administration of justice into disrepute.”
Lennox decided it was no problem.
Absolute discharge granted!!!!!
And these people have the audacity to accuse Perry Dunlop of bringing the administration of justice into disrepute?!!!!!
One more thing. Commission counsel hope to finish with three days to spare. Then witnesses from the school board will be tossed on and off the stand.
Do take six minuted to listen to the Peter Engelmann interview on John Bolton. Go to John Bolton Interview Archive on AM 1220. Click on Peter Engelmann: Cornwall Public Inquiry – 09 January 2009.
I hope to get the clip posted but had some trouble and decided to set it aside and fiddle with it later. So, for now, get it at AM 1220. It’s quite intriguing to hear Mr. Engelman talk about this “complex” social issue and how Cornwall is setting an example for the rest of the country.
That’s all I can handle. I’ve had it 🙁
– 15 days of testimony left: three for the school boards and 12 for a host of key AG witnesses
– There is no ring. Never was.
– There is no cover-up. Never was.
– In April 2005 the Ontario Attorney General said “We will get this right, we will have this inquiry and we will see that justice is done in Cornwall.”
– In October 2008 the Ontario Attorney General dropped the ax on the inquiry – just in time to placate the raft of hand-wringing OPP and AG witnesses on deck. Tick. Tock.
– The “alleged” paedophiles of Cornwall are still snug as a bug in a rug – they can sleep tight.
– There is none so blind as those that will not see.
Enough for now,