Two more comments re Robert Pelletier’s testimony of yesterday: (1) the McKinnon factor, and (2) the “coincidence.”
(1) The McKinnon factor
There was evidence related to the short time span from January 1996 when Pelletier was first asked to serve as Crown on Father Charles MacDonald’s case to the day he received a phone call from Colin McKinnon. At this stage of the game McKinnon was representing Father Charles MacDonald. Fifteen months earlier we know he was representing former Chief Claude Shaver.
First, the timelines:
15 January 1996: Pelletier asked by Peter Griffiths to prosecute Father Charles MacDonald if charges were laid.
18 January 1996: Pelletier met with and briefed by Judge B.W. Lennox
31 January 1996: Pelletier met with Inspector Tim Smith and Detective Constable Fagan and received a number of investigative briefs: the Cornwall Police Services Investigation conducted by Constable Sebalj, Ottawa Police Service report, settlement documents, documents related to David Silmser complaint against the Cornwall police and Cornwall Crown’s office re not initially laying charges.
Pelletier requested the David Silmser extortion file which was missing. He does not recall how he knew about that file – assumes it must have been discussed during the meeting.
01 February 1996: Pelletier received a telephone call from Colin McKinnon. McKinnon was representing Father Charlie. McKinnon had somehow become aware that there was a possibility of charges against Charlie.
Here’s how the evidence regarding the McKinnon contact went:
MR. JUSTICE PELLETIER: Yes.
“On Thursday, February 1st, 1996” —
So the day after you meet with the two investigators, you receive a call from Colin McKinnon, counsel for Charles MacDonald with regards to possible criminal charges. Is that right?
MR. JUSTICE PELLETIER: Yes.
MR. DUMAIS: So were you surprised getting a phone call from Father Charlie MacDonald’s counsel the day after you met with the officers?
MR. JUSTICE PELLETIER: I would have been surprised. I would have been curious to know how come Mr. McKinnon, Justice McKinnon, would have known that early that there may be charges before I’d made any such determination.
MR. DUMAIS: Yes. Because, I mean, at that period of time, you had still not decided whether or not you would instruct the officers to lay charges in the matter?
MR. JUSTICE PELLETIER: That’s correct.
MR. DUMAIS: All right. And I’m still looking at the same paragraph, and I’m going to start at the sentence that starts — it’s about midway through that paragraph, a little higher, “I mentioned to Mr. McKinnon”.
MR. JUSTICE PELLETIER: Yes.
MR. DUMAIS: You follow me?
“I mentioned to Mr. McKinnon that there appeared to be certain difficulties in relation to the Silmser complaint. However, those would be further examined prior to a decision being made.”
(1) Who tipped off McKinnon? Who told him charges might be laid?
(2) How did McKinnon know to contact Pelletier? Who told McKinnon that Pelletier had just been asked to prosecute?
(3) Why did Pelletier divulge information to McKinnon, Charlie’s lawyer, specifically that there seemed to be difficulties in relation to David Silmser’s complaint?
Pelletier was then asked to what he was referring in relation to difficulties with David Silmser.
Note first that at the time he had the t/c from Colin McKinnon Pelletier’s knowledge of the allegations against Charlie and by extension his knowledge of David Silmser were limited to (i) what his good friend Crown attorney Murray MacDonald told him; (2) what Judge Lennox told him; (3) what his OPP friend Tim Smith from the Alfred investigation told him, and (3) the pile of briefs he had just received from Project Truth officers the day before the McKinnon phone call.
With that in mind, here is the exchange regarding his knowledge of “difficulties” with the Silmser complaint:
MR. DUMAIS: Do you recall what you are referring here to
the difficulties with Mr. Silmser?
MR. JUSTICE PELLETIER: No, I don’t recall what I was alluding to specifically.
MR. DUMAIS: Okay.
MR. JUSTICE PELLETIER: Certainly, I would come to know that some of the Silmser — the information provided by David Silmser was, in some areas, problematic so much so that, in one case, I’d recommended against charges for one episode. But I can’t recall specifically what it is I’m alerting Mr. McKinnon to with regards to difficulties with Silmser.
MR. DUMAIS: All right. At the time of this telephone call, did Mr. McKinnon appear to be knowledgeable about allegations that had been made by Mr. Silmser?
MR. JUSTICE PELLETIER: I don’t recall how much detail we got into. So it’s difficult for me to say how much Mr. McKinnon would have known at the time.
MR. DUMAIS: Okay. So I’m just looking then, not at the next sentence but the one after that. You put down in your note:
“I informed Mr. McKinnon that I would be interested in receiving copies of all materials relating to the civil suit brought by the three complainants against Father MacDonald and the Church.”
So it appears that from your conversation with Mr. McKinnon that he would have had some involvement or at least some knowledge of outstanding civil suits regarding your three complainants at the time?
MR. JUSTICE PELLETIER: His firm was acting for Father MacDonald on the civil action, which had already begun.
(1) Pelletier said he “would come to know” problematic areas with David Silmser, but doesn’t know what he was alerting McKinnon to?
Indeed! “Come”to know. Not that he knew then, but that he would “come”to know. So, the unanswered question remains: How did Pelletier “know” to say anything to McKinnon?
The fact is that when he talked to McKinnon on 01 February 1996 Pelletier had literally just received the Charlie-related files. In truth at that stage of the game Pelletier should have known nothing about David Silmser – apart that is of course from (i) what his good friend and Cornwall Crown attorney Murray MacDonald told him, and (ii) what judge Lennox told him, and (3) what Tim Smith possibly told him.
What did then did Lennox, Murray and/or Tim Smith have to say to Pelletier about David Silmser and his allegations that would lead Pelletier to feel comfortable and informed enough to make such a comment to none other than Charlie’s lawyer?
(2) How in good conscience could Justice Colin McKinnon have the audacity to take the bench at the sex abuse trial of Jacques Leduc? the trial of a lawyer who helped broker a pay-off to keep sex abuse allegations against Father Charles MacDonald hush hush?
(2) The “coincidence”
Pelletier was asked what he meant in his 02 April 1997 memo when he referred to three “unfortunate” coincidences. Here is the para in the memo:
Needless to say, I am not convinced that these allegation are well founded. The Dunlop group which involve Perry Dunlop, his spouse, his brother-in-law Carson Chisholm, the various victims referred to previously, and ultimately counsel Charles Bourgeois perceive a conspiracy in the Cornwall area involving illegal sexual activities and cover ups. Given three unfortunate coincidences, firstly the conviction of Murray MacDonald’s father, secondly Murray MacDonald’s decision initially not to pursue criminal charges in respect of David Silmser, and thirdly, Malcolm MacDonald’s conviction for obstructing justice, the Dunlop group are convinced of the existence of a conspiracy.
When asked what he meant by “three unfortunate coincidences” Pelletier replied:
Well, I consider each of those matters to be unfortunate, firstly, but what is unfortunate — what makes the coincidence unfortunate is that those three elements converge and, in my view, could very well lead those to believe that there may be a conspiracy — to find this as confirmation. You’ve got a Crown Attorney’s father who’s convicted for sexual assault; you’ve got the same Crown Attorney who initially decided there shouldn’t be charges; and you’ve got a former Crown Attorney who’s convicted for obstructing justice in relation to arrangements made with the same complainant.
So it’s the convergence of those three events that led me to phrase it in that way.
(1) Where’s the explanation? Is it still simply “the coincidence”?
Seems there is no shortage of coincidences when it comes to the Cornwall sex abuse scandal and cover-up, i.e., Pelletier happens to know what he shouldn’t and so on and so forth.
Must mention this. On 07 February 1996 David Silmser called Pelletier. That was Dave’s first contact with Pelletier. Pelletier decided Dave was rude and used poor language and told him not to call again.
When did Dave first go to police with his sex abuse allegations? December 1992?
I have no idea what Dave had to say, but I can’t help but wonder what exactly Justice Pelletier expects from a victim who has been maligned, dismissed and/or side-lined by the system for over three years.
Interesting that Pelletier had no problem talking to and divulging whatever to Charlie’s lawyer, and couldn’t spare the time of day for Charlie’s “alleged” victim. Guess it all boils down to good and proper use of the Queen’s English. In that on some occasions extremely frustrated victims are known to fail. Pelletier should have known that.
Enough for now,