It seems a few people are still hanging on to the hope that this inquiry will do what they think it is supposed to do, i.e., investigate and lay to rest once and for all the persistent allegations of a paedophile ring and cover-up and then point the finger at those who obstructed and/or eluded justice.
It will not. It absolutely will not.
The mandate has made that clear. And Justice Normand Glaude has made it clear time and time again, just as he has made clear the he, the commissioner no less, personally decided long ago behind closed doors and without benefit of testimony that the “rumour” and “innuendo” swirling around Cornwall upon his arrival in the community are false.
If there is a shred of doubt that the inquiry will not do what we had all once naively hoped it could and would we have only to read the decision of Justices James D. Carnwath, James M. Spence and Harriett E. Sachs of the Ontario Divisional Court to dismiss Father Charles MacDonald’s request for a judicial review (14 August 2006) of Glaude’s ruling that the victim’s can testify, albeit in a limited fashion.
I have posted the decision on The Inquiry page (MacDonald v Commissioner of the Cornwall Public Inquiry) and suggest you read it because while on one hand it affirms that the chosen victims can testify it also neatly encapsulate the fact this inquiry has absolutely nothing to do with the pursuit of truth and justice for Cornwall. The affirmation of Glaude’s ruling is a short and a quick read.
But before signing off I want to take a few moments to comment on select sections of the decision, my comment first followed by the excerpt:
(1) Note that the issue at hand at the inquiry will never be did Charlie, an “alleged” paedophile, commit the crimes, but rather how did he respond to allegations of abuse? The same will hold true for all “alleged” paedophiles who may become the subject of discussion at the inquiry:
the Commissioner has made it clear that he will not be making any findings of misconduct against the [Father MacDonald]. The only adverse comment that could be made about Father MacDonald would be that, as an employee or official of a public institution, he failed to properly respond to allegations of abuse.
(2) Note too that this whole exercise will be reduced to an individual’s subjective determination of a victim’s credibility when the sexual abuse complaint was made, and then on a case by case basis Glaude himself will determine which victims to call so that he can stir his totally subjective determination of the victim’s credibility into the pot:
The Commissioner was clear that . . . . his purpose was to investigate the response of the justice system and other public institutions to allegations of sexual abuse against young people in Cornwall. In some cases, investigating that response, may entail hearing from the young people themselves – both as to what they said, when and to whom and as to the responses they say they received from the people they complained to. Assessing a particular official’s response to their complaints may involve assessing how credible the complaints and the complainants appeared at the time. Hearing from and seeing a particular complainant may assist in this task. Whether this will be necessary in every case, given the other material that is available, is not clear. That is why the Commissioner, quite appropriately, determined that he would decide, on a case by case basis, whether to receive such evidence, depending upon whether it is relevant to his mandate, and subject to appropriate restrictions having regard to the “serious concerns” expressed by [Father MacDonald].
(3) And here we go again with subjectivity, honing in on the responses to sexual abuse allegations and providing an easy out for the failure to lay charges or prosecute with subjective conclusion that the victim was not credible. This is a bit of a laugh in Cornwall where sexual abuse allegations were often reported to men who were themselves allegedly members of a paedophile ring and/ or party to a cover-up – or answerable to men who were – and who would of course fail to respond to the allegations and would of course justify that decision then or now by discrediting a victim and denouncing his credibility based upon a victim’s often stereotypical man/boy sexual abuse victim behaviour :
As part of his mandate the Commissioner will be examining many decisions that were made in response to the allegations. These may include whether or not the police decided to lay criminal charges and whether or not the Crown decided that a prosecution should be conducted. In examining those decisions he will be required to do so from the point of view of whether they were justifiable on a reasonable basis, given the obligations of the particular authorities at the time. This will necessitate hearing evidence as to what was done and why. It may also include assessing whether, given what they knew at the time, the police or the Crown acted reasonably when they made decisions as to whether or not a particular allegation was credible enough to warrant the laying of a charge or the commencement of a criminal prosecution. Assessing the reasonableness of these decisions will not require the Commissioner to make findings that the allegations were true and will certainly not require him to make a determination that [Father MacDonald] was criminally or civilly responsible.
(4) And note that Justice Glaude runs this ship. Those who believe that once a victim takes the stand he is free to speak are mistaken. Justice Glaude is in charge. He will select the token victims who will be permitted to testify and will limit and control the direction and substance of the testimony:
it is not counsel who will decide what evidence will or will not be heard. It is the Commissioner.
(5) Note too that evidence may be entered without the victim’s ability to testify to set the record straight. I assure you that not everything which is entered as fact in Project Truth trial transcripts is fact:
the Commissioner was clear that he was alive to the fact that in certain cases it may be possible to introduce that evidence without calling the alleged victims to testify.
(6) And don’t for one moment forget the legal tools at the disposal of Charlie and every other “alleged” paedophile who may become the focus of Glaude’s attention at the Weave Shed:
[Father MacDonald] is not without any tools to safeguard his reputational interest. He has been granted standing and, as such, is entitled (among other things) to documentary disclosure, advance notice of documents proposed to be introduced in evidence, advance provision of statements of anticipated evidence of witnesses, the right to object to evidence, the right to make submissions with respect to relevance, the right to cross-examine witnesses on matters relevant to the basis upon which the standing was granted, the right to request that a portion of the hearing be conducted in private, the right to request orders prohibiting disclosure, public disclosure, publication or broadcast of any testimony, document or evidence, or the editing of documents to remove sensitive and/or unnecessary information and the right to make opening and closing submissions.
I will close by saying that this inquiry is mandated by Premier Dalton McGuinty and his Liberal government to turn a blind eye to the crux and nuts and bolts of the Cornwall sex abuse scandal. Justice Glaude was chosen to do their bidding. It’s that simple. I have said it before and will never tire of saying it: it’s a ruse. In fact, it’s the grand-daddy of ruses!
As it stands, at the end of the day when Justice Glaude and his team fold their tents and silently steal away Cornwall will be left with its children willfully placed and left at risk, “alleged” paedophiles prowling its streets and sanctuaries, those who obstruct justice clinking their glasses, the “alleged” victims realizing that they have been used and abused yet again, not a soul willing to blow a whistle anywhere and thereby risk the fate of former Constable Perry Dunlop, THE research paper with its gentle reminders that the ever-evolving sexual abuse policies, practices and procedures need to evolve a wee bit more, and, of course more than a few well-feathered nests and few more well-lined pockets.
And that’s more than enough for now,