Perry has now spent 69 days in jail – for stepping up to the plate to protect children.
Someone watching the hearings Thursday morning called to say: “Perry’ story is shining through. He was right all along.”
Yes indeed. Leo Courville has given us a glimpse into the lengths the Cornwall Police Service and police Board went to either (1) cover-up the bungling of the Dave Silmser sex abuse allegations against Father Charles MacDonald and Ken Seguin, (2) cover-up the cover-up of Dave’s sex abuse allegations, or (3) both.
Commission counsel Karen Jones did a masterful job of walking a rather verbose and frequently finger-pointing Courville through his years on the Cornwall Police Service Board. Masterful! She stuck with it throughout Courville’s often evasive replies. I was truly impressed.
The testimony of the former chairman of the Cornwall Police Board has been an education for one and all. If you weren’t watching Thursday you missed something. The transcripts are there, and they certainly recap the verbal tap dancing, but my oh my it was something to watch the day unfold live, and to witness the wilt in Courville’s demeanour as this new commission lawyer did her job.
The testimony which particularly caught my ear was that related to the press releases.
Jones honed in two press releases put out by the Board in early January 1994 and early February 1994 respectively.
I will recap Courville’s testimony on both of these releases in more detail in a posting on the website. For now I will make note of the following about each:
11 January 1994 press release ( I will scan and post this later. Those familiar with the facts will see the spin.)
The press release of 11 January 1994 had input in its compilation from Courville, S/Sgt Luc Brunet and acting chief Johnston. The release announced that, at the request of the Board and Johnston, the Ottawa police had started an external review of the CPS investigation into the Dave Silmser sex abuse allegations. It also reads in part:
The Board also invites the complainant [David Silmser] to avail himself of the police complaint procedures available to any citizen under the Police Services Act of Ontario.”
Jones asked if this was not “a very clear invitation for the complainant to essentially make a formal complaint about Perry Dunlop?”
First Courville said: “Not necessarily Perry Dunlop…” Minutes later, again: “Not necessarily…”
He didn’t say “No.” He didn’t say “absolutely not.” He said “Not necessarily.”
In between the ‘not necessarilies’ Courville acknowledged that “Perry Dunlop certainly was discussed in the preparation of this press release” and that “Perry Dunlop was a concern or an issue” for those involved in preparing the press release.
For all the tap dancing the bottom line is that the Board put out a public invitation which in essence invited David Silmser to file a complaint against Perry!
A PUBLIC invitation!
What message did the Board intend to convey to the general public with this manoeuvre if not that Perry did wrong, and that if “D.S.” (the complainant) would simply file a complaint Perry would be dealt with accordingly?
That was 11 January 1994.
At that time word of the $32,000 had leaked into the public domain. The diocese had yet to confirm the pay-off let alone address the imminent public knowledge that Dave had been illegally gagged by the pay-off. And Perry Dunlop had not yet been charged under the Police Services Act(see Anatomy of a Cover-Up for time-lines)
02 February 1994 Press Release
By 02 February the cat was right of the bag. It was known that the pay-off contained an illegal clause and “D.S.” has been gagged. And, – the Ottawa police had concluded its “investigation” and tendered the Blake Skinner Report!
Another press release.
Courville signed off on the 02 February 1994 report. He and acting Chief Johnston were involved in its compilation.
Not only was this press release big time damage control, it totally misrepresented the findings in the Blake Skinner Report (Report) and was, I would say, a fine piece of public disinformation.
The press release erroneously implied that the Report painted the CPS and its “investigation” in glowing terms. In truth, among other things the Report (1) referred to the investigation as “inept and ineffective”; (2) noted Cornwall Crown attorney Murray MacDonald’s self-declared conflict of interest and said he should have stepped aside; and (3) noted problems related to investigative officer Heidi Sebalj’ lack of experience. Not a word about any of the latter.
Bad enough, but add to that the fact that this deception of the public was presumably executed on the advice of a lawyer!!! Tucked amidst the accolades was the following sentence:
“After obtaining legal advice the Police Force is not in a position to release any further information or gives details.”
Why? What is the implied by inserting this sentence into a press release?
Why should the public not be told that the CPS “investigation” was “inept and ineffective”? Why should the public not have been told about the problems with Murray MacDonald’s conflict? Or the problems with Heidi’ s inexperience?
Is there such beast as a legal justification for deceiving and misleading the public?
Whether the legal advice was to deliberately deceive I have no idea (solicitor-client privilege prevails!) but, no matter, by accident or design that was the end result. The public was good and royally deceived. There was apparently nothing in the press release which would give the public so much as a hint that there were real and serious problems with the “investigation.”
In light of the Cornwall saga and particularly the Leduc sex abuse trial fiasco I must raise the obvious question: Who was the lawyer who provided the advice? Was it perchance Colin McKinnon? The same lawyer who only months earlier negotiated Chief Shaver’s sizable severance package? The one who advised that Perry should be charged under the Police Services Act? And then as judge “forgot” his dealings with Perry and took the bench at the Project Truth sex abuse trial of local lawyer and Church canon lawyer Jacques Leduc?
Will we ever find out if it was or was not McKinnon? We should.
I will, as I say, put some of the more intriguing exchanges between Jones, Courville, Glaude and Callaghan regarding the above press releases together and on the website. They are fascinating and at times rather pathetic. Lots of tap dancing. Intriguing and disgusting. How anyone can say with a straight face that the press releases weren’t crafted to cover-up I have no idea.
And then there’s Mr. Courville’s background.
I must say once I heard the first hour of so of Courville’s testimony it struck me that the man is extremely well-connected. I set to finding out a little more about him. Again, intriguing.
Between the evidence of yesterday and what I found independently here is what I have to date…..
A native of British Columbia Courville was an economist who later decided to pursue a career in law. He was called to the Bar in Saskatchewan in 1983. He began to practise law in Cornwall in 1985. He practises both civil and criminal law.
Courville ran for election as the NDP candidate for the then riding of Cornwall in the 1990 Ontario provincial election. He lost to Liberal incumbent Jim Cleary.
That was the election which ushered in the NDP Bob Rae government. (In recent years Rae has been received into the Liberal party with open arms. He now sits as Liberal MP in the House of Parliament)
Dolores Jensen, a member of the Cornwall Police Service Board at the time of Courville’s appointment to that board, was a member of Courville’s campaign committee.
In 1992 Courville was appointed as a member of the Cornwall Police Service Board. The appointment was a political appointment.
I got the impression from Courville’s testimony that he played no role in his appointment to the board.
I had to submit résumé. I had to appear before an all-party meeting in Toronto and I had to have my credentials reviewed by that all-party committee and after that all-party committee went through that process, I was told that I was selected.
I believe that “all party meeting in Toronto” was in fact the 17 June 1992 Appointments Review of the Standing Committee on Government Agencies. According to the transcript of Courville’s appearance on that date there was apparently, as you will see in the following excerpt, concern in Cornwall that this was a patronage appointment. And, also according to the transcript, Mr. Courville presumably applied for the position with the Police Service Board, and that presumably only after he happened on a library publication about agencies, boards and commissions:
Mr Grandmaître: I received a number of phone calls from Cornwall in the last, let’s say, six days telling me that your appointment is strictly a patronage appointment. Do you agree or not?
Mr Courville: I applied for this position based on an interest in the work of this agency based on my background in so far as I thought I could contribute to this agency and based on my interest in the community of Cornwall. I think that my interest and my background are such that they lead me to apply to this position.
Mr Grandmaître: You say you applied for this position; how did you apply?
Mr Courville: I was very much aided by a wonderful publication which I found in our public library on agencies, boards and commissions. I hadn’t seen that document before this year and I noted that it has a very comprehensive review of all of the various government boards and agencies there are. Certainly that was the primary factor that led me to look at the police commission for the city of Cornwall.
Courville apparently passed the test and one week later was appointed. He soon became Vice Chair of the Board and, around or on 14 January 1993, Chairman of the Board. (That’s around the time David Silmser’s sex abuse allegations against Father Charles MacDonald and Ken Seguin were sitting more or less dormant at the CPS. By then, if memory serves, lead investigator Heidi Sebalj had done all that was going to be done or was ever done on the sex abuse “investigation.” The case against Charlie was wrapped up. Not a finger had been turned to the allegations against Seguin, and David Silmser had been effectively abelled as lacking credibility.)
Acting Chief Carl Johnston, who worked in the Rae government as an Assistant Deputy Minister and replaced Chief Claude Shaver in January in 1994, was brought in under Courville’s tenure. Courville testified that with the early “retirement” of Shaver it was “fortuituous” that Carl Johnson
who was at that time the Assistant Deputy Minister in charge of the Police Servicing Division within the Solicitor General’s department, was retiring from that position.
I am struck by the politics. Look at it! Just look at the politics here!! Not that it’s specifically NDP politics. Indeed, Cornwall transcends party affiliation. Michael Harris was Progressive Conservative. Dalton McGuinty is Liberal.
But the connections. Courville it seems is well and politically connected.
Speaking of politics, one more thing. I’m not sure if this the same Leo Courville. I’m inclined to think it is.
In 1973 there was a Western Economic Opportunities Conference held in Calgary Alberta. Chaired by Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau the participants were a who’s who of the Western provinces, gathering to seek a new national policy which would foster economic policy and diversification in the West. In attendance as a Conference Rapporteur with the Secretariat was a Mr. Léo Courville who, according to the list of participants, was “Seconded from the Government of Saskatchewan.” The Saskatchewan government of the day was NDP. Allan Blakeney was Premier. Roy Romanow was Attorney General.
I can’t say with certainty that this is one and same Leo Courville, however because of the NDP affiliation and the economic thrust of the conference I think there is a strong possibility that it is. I will check further if and when I have opportunity.
I will leave it that. I must get this up and then will get the excerpts from the transcripts together and posted.
I missed large chunks of today’s testimony. I invite those who watched to blog your observations and fill us in. I do know that Mr. Courville is not finished. He will have to return for about another two hours. He has a court case on Monday so it apparently will not be Monday.
I must call it a day,
Enough for now,