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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:


“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. 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. 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. 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,



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5 Responses to Coincidences

  1. Sylvia says:

    A break at 3 pm. Examination in chief still going on. Justice Glaude asked Peter Engelemann how much longer? Engelmann estimates about 15 minutes,

    Glaude wants Stewart finsihed today. That may entail sitting to 6 pm.

    Obviously the hope is to rattle through cross-examination in a couple of hours.

    Such a sham this is. Hard to know who to blame that it has come to this. The AG’s office for the flawed mandate? The AG’s office for choosing the conflicted Glaude? Glaude for not recusing himself? Glaude for not getting the mandate firmed up? All those who fought tooth and nail to carry on with the inquiry despite problems with mandate and commissioner? McGuinty and his AG for conveniently dropping the ax when the AG witnesses were on deck? Or all of the above?

  2. Sylvia says:

    Over and done with by 6:05 pm.

    They’re away for supper. Back at 7 pm to deal with publication matters and monikers I believe. I’m not 100% sure if the webcast will be on. Earlier it was said it would be in camera. Just now it was said it would be transcribed or recorded or something. So, perhaps check at 7 pm. I don’t think that we will be privy to too much.

    And, no Dallas Lee to cross-examine Stewart. Yesterday Frank Horn gone. Today Dallas gone. Sad when there are only two parties with standing with remotely similar interests to probe areas the others won’t touch with a ten foot pole.

  3. Sylvia says:

    7 pm. They’re on. Apparently most of the session will be broadcast.

  4. Sherlock says:

    People who ridicule “conspiracy theory” always must rely on “coincidence theory”. A good conspiracy theorist will assemble a large collection of facts and see if they connect into a pattern. Sometimes two apparently connected facts may be only coincidentally connected; even three or four, but the larger the number becomes, the more likelihood of there being an actual conspiracy.

    For example there are by my count five people living on Vancouver Island who claim to have received death threats in the Cornwall area and moved as far away as possible in Canada. That one of these five, David Price, claims he knows the name, occupation and physical description of his assailant is simply a fact, but it becomes an enormous coincidence when a fellow with the same name and occupation becomes the main investigator of the case. That’s an amazing coincidence but if the investigation had gone well it might have been put off to chance. But no, the investigation was a shambles. Even the evidence is instantly stolen from where he was discretely keeping it. Even more amazing that he should be unconcerned about this, even denying that it was officially a break-in! Naturally, for the conspiracy theorist, it is no surprise that this fellow would manage to sabatoge the court case by setting up the prosecutor on bogus, and eventually determined irrelevant, non-disclosure issues.

    For the conspiracy theorist gaps in information can also be a source of reinforcement. For example one would expect the Ontario police to ask Mr. Price for a physical description. That logical progression is missing and the absence becomes itself cause of further speculation.

    While good conspiracy theorists are always tentative and unsure what exact conclusions can be drawn from their speculations, the coincidence theorists are always absolutely completely sure that there is no conspiracy at all. In fact, with Pat Hall they are so absolutely sure that there is no possibility at all of his being a conspirator that they will give him the power to determine whether a conspiracy can be allowed to be proven in court.
    As the poet Yeats put it: “The best lack all conviction, while the worst Are full of passionate intensity.”

    As for the “unfortunate coincidences” involving so many people from clan MacDonald dominating your Cornwall justice system, well, that doesn’t stop in Ontario. British Columbia also has at least one: Mr. Justice Bruce MacDonald who has been alleged to be involved in judicial protection of pedophile rings. Sordid details can be found here:

    All in all I think that when the numbers of coincidences get so high there is a morphing of “coincidence theory” into ordinary, garden-variety stupidity, as in: I am too dumb to see what is going on.

    Another obfuscating factor is the normal mediocracy conspiracy which all bureaucracies are prone to. When everyone who is competant at their level gets promoted, eventually they arrive at an incompetant level surrounded by other incompetants. All of them naturally protect each other and band together against competant outsiders. This inquiry is certainly seeing a lot of that minor type of conspiracy!

  5. Sylvia says:

    Well said Sherlock. The old Peter Principal at play. That’s part of the problem isn’t it? It’s not just the boundless red flags re conspiracy, it’s the boundless instances of negligence, sloppiness, laziness, disinterest, carelessness and/or incompetence of one institutional employee after the other. And that of course feeds into those who so defiantly insist: “no conspiracy.”

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