Hearings resume at 0930 hours (9:30 am) this morning, Friday 21 November 2008.
Joe Dupuis will return for cross-examination.
No, things didn’t get wrapped up yesterday, but, yes, Pierre Dumais managed to hurdle across a ton of evidence and whittle things down to slender one day of examination in chief.
Today was supposed to be a day off. When the gathered throng sits on Fridays they normally go through lunch and recess in the early afternoon, then they dash for homes near and far in their respective planes, trains and automobiles. What happens today remains to be seen. Justice Glaude has said Dupuis is to be finished this week. Will they manage to pare things down enough to get out on time?
We shall see.
There are two things I particularly want to touch on in Dupuis’ testimony to date, (1) the 11 b. waiver, and (2) the Shelley Hallett incident.
I won’t get to the second right now. It’s all a bit convoluted, but I do want to give some background so people can see how Crown attorney Shelley Hallett was stabbed in the back by OPP officers and how, as a result, Leduc’s accusation of wilful non disclosure by the OPP morphed into an extremely serious accusation of wilful non-disclosure by the Crown. Dirty dirty business. Dirty. I recall Skurka strutting his stuff like a peacock after his private little meet with OPP officers. And Colin McKinnon on the bench. And Jacques Leduc taking it all in.
For now, the matter of the 11 (b) Charter waiver.
First, Section 11 (b) of the Charter reads:
11. Any person charged with an offence has the right
b) to be tried within a reasonable time;
Now the issue of Dupuis’ testimony and section 11 (b)
According to Joe Dupuis’testimony, back in late ’97 or perhaps early ’98 Crown attorney Robert Pelletier and Father Charlie’s lawyer Michael Neville agreed to ‘join’ a raft of new charges with the first set of charges. That meant that that instead of moving straight to trial there would be a delay while lawyers do whatever needs doing in such circumstances. Neville and Charlie had presumably agreed. Join the charges. Charlie was waiving his Section 11 (b) Charter rights.
Five years later, Charlie ‘walked.’ Neville argued that Charlie’s 11 (b) Charter right to a speedy trial had been violated. Justice Chilcott concurred.
When this was broached on Wednesday I get the impression from the hullabaloo in the Weave Shed that were Neville to take the stand he would deny he ever said such a thing.
After spending most of a “public” inquiry day hashing things out behind closed doors, and with thanks to the mandate and Justice Normand Glaude, Neville doesn’t seem to have the drive to take the stand.
No need. The commissioner doesn’t care a tinker whether Charlie waived his Charter rights or not. Nor does he care if Neville said what Dupuis says he said or not. The commissioner’s focus is on how Dupuis responded – to what he heard, or what he thought he heard, or what he may even have fabricated!
Things can’t much more ridiculous than that can they?
Unfortunately, as seems almost stereotypical for police officers who have testified to date, Dupuis has nothing in his notes to corroborate his testimony on this very significant matter. He did testify that he told McConnery, the Crown who was handling the mess when Charlie’s case eventually went to “trial” in 2002 (that was Crown number three!) And he may or may not have told his immediate boss at the time, OPP Project Truth officer Pat Hall. And I have no idea if he passed this on to Shelley Hallett, the Crown who picked up the pieces after Pelletier had to bow out because of his conflict of interest. He did however relate it to McConnery, the Crown who picked up the pieces after Hallett was stabbed between the shoulder blades by the OPP Project Truth officers.
So here’s what we know to date
At some point in late 1997 or early 1998 Dupuis overheard or was party in some manner to a conversation in which Michael Neville, lawyer for Father Charles MacDonald, and Robert Pelletier, the Crown attorney handling the Father Charlie’s preliminary hearings in Ottawa, Ontario in 1997 agreed to ‘join’ a new set of sex abuse charges against Charlie with the initial set.
There was a chance meeting in a hallway in a courthouse in Ottawa and there was a quick discussion between Mr. Pelletier and Mr. Neville in regards to consolidating those charges.
Mr. Pelletier draws Mr. Neville’s attention to him, advises him that there’s further charges coming. Do you wish to have one trial or two? There was one. And then what are we going to do about a possible 11(b)
According to Dupuis, Neville told Pelletier that Charlie was waiving his 11 (b) Charter rights.
Those two sets of charges were joined. That is fact.
As to when this conversation between Neville and Pelletier transpired, all that known is that it was sometime before 26 January 1998.
The preliminary hearings themselves literally chugged throughout most of 1997 with more than a few remands and delays. A day here. A few days off. A day there. A few weeks off. I recall in particular one lengthy delay which was granted after Neville pleaded time off to carry on his other duties at the Somalia Inquiry, an inquiry which, incidentally, was cut short by the Federal Liberals leaving no time for the commission to call key military officials and no time to delve further into the circumstances surrounding two ‘execution –style’ shootings.
So frequent were the delays at Charlie’s prelims that it became a matter of deep concern for those attending the hearings. It didn’t help matters that Neville had repute for his expertise in Section 11 (b) Charter matters.
In short there was deep and often verbalized concern that if things kept up as they were going Charlie was going to “walk.”
Carson Chisholm was one of I believe several who spoke to Pelletier on the matter. Carson was not well received. “You’re delusional” said the Crown!
No so delusional at all it seems…
Five years, two Crowns, more charges and a lot more muddied waters under the bridge and Charlie, with Neville’s able assistance, reached out and grabbed Section 11 (b) of the Charter.
Whether Charlie waived his 11 (b) rights or not is irrelevant to the inquiry, to Glaude and to the bulk of the gathered throng. It just plain doesn’t matter. The cleverly crafted flawed mandate has looked after dicey matters such as this quite nicely. Truth is inconsequential. Justice Glaude and the gathered throng flowed with the mandate from the get-go.
And, for those who like me want to see exactly what Justice Normand Glaude’s had to say:
So now at this point, I think I should make comment that I’ve indicated yesterday that following the voir dire where we discussed and we heard the evidence of this witness to see whether or not it was admissible, one of the problems of course was that — for folks to understand the concept that I am not going to look at the truth of the statement that you said. That matter with respect to the 11(b) argument has been heard in court and there has been judicial findings made with respect to that.
So the important matter here, and given that my mandate is with respect to institutional response, is I want to explore or have explored the issue of what did this police officer do with that knowledge that he says he has and how it — how he dealt with it within his investigations and how he dealt with it with the Crowns as the issue of the 11(b) argument proceeded. Accordingly, while I’m limiting it to that in-chief, I’m also going to be limiting the cross-examination, and I made that clear yesterday, that we are not to deal with the truth of the contents; simply what the institutional response was with this gentleman having that belief in mind.
Yes, it would indeed be difficult for folks to understand that the commissioner will not be searching for truth. I would venture a guess that the “alleged” victims of Father Charles MacDonald will find it particularly hard to understand. Ditto their families.
And the clock ticks on.
Glaude just said they will sit till 2:30 pm today. He hopes the cross-examination will be finished. No word on what happens if it isn’t it. Cancel the planes and trains? …
Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.
Christmas is coming.
I’d guess the AG and his witnesses are crossing their fingers and watching with baited breath
Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.
It must be a systemic institutional affliction. “ I don’t recall.” “I don’t remember.”
Have you ever seen or heard the like of it?
This is beyond belief.
Does anyone remember the grilling Perry’s former lawyer Charlie Bourgeois got on the stand for not remembering? And CPS lawyer John Callaghan telling him he must have Alzheimers?
These fellows make Charlie Bourgois look like the elephant who never forgets.
But, good for him, he did recall the 11 (b)-Neville-Pelletier hallway incident 🙂
Enough for now,