|Former Premier Harris’ actions questioned by inquiry witness
Cornwall Standard Freeholder
01 December 2007
Posted By Elisabeth Johns
Former Ottawa-area MPP Garry Guzzo came just shy of suggesting Friday former Premier Mike Harris subverted justice during the investigations into sexual abuse allegations in Cornwall. Guzzo, in his fifth day of testimony at the Cornwall Public Inquiry, replied during cross-examination there would be others higher up in the ministry during his time in office that would know better than he would.
“Is it your belief Premier Harris played a role in subverting justice here in Cornwall?” asked Dallas Lee, lawyer for The Victims Group.
“I’ve had a very academic discussion about this with a number of retired judges,” Guzzo replied.
After a very pregnant pause, he continued: “I’m not prepared to conclude that. I’d think I’d have to know more. There would be an attorney general or two who could offer some advice on that, well, on whoever was making decisions.”
“Do you believe it’s important for this inquiry to hear from Mr. Harris?” Lee questioned.
After another long pause, Guzzo replied, “I haven’t given it any thought. I think it might be important to hear from some other people in government that are higher up than Garry Guzzo from the years of 1995 to 2003.”
Previously Guzzo, a former judge and Tory MPP for the riding of Ottawa West-Nepean, testified he had met with OPP Det. Insp. Pat Hall several years ago when Hall was working on the Project Truth investigation.
The OPP, which conducted the investigation, looked into allegations several prominent Cornwall and area men abused young boys in the area between over the past 40 years.
Guzzo talked to Hall about whether or not former Bishop Eugene LaRocque was being investigated in relation to any criminal activity he might have been involved in in relation to the sexual abuse allegations.
He said he was told the OPP wouldn’t be looking into any allegations of anything that happened outside of the province. Guzzo said previously he was informed there were registration slips indicating LaRocque stayed at a seedy Florida motel known to attract male prostitutes and alleged child molesters.
When he asked about why this information was being dismissed, Guzzo said he was told to ask Harris, the premier at the time.
He further testified he took it to mean the premier’s office was “quarterbacking,” or calling the shots, on the investigation.
Guzzo called on his own government numerous times for a public inquiry looking into abuse in Cornwall.
During his term at Queen’s Park, Guzzo authored two bills asking for an inquiry to look into police investigations of sexual abuse against minors in this area.
Although he didn’t offer any specific recommendations to the commission as to how institutions could handle allegations of abuse in the future, he did commend the commission on the inquiry so far. However, he said the “Cornwall file” is very different from other files he has dealt with as an elected politician. While other files he has gotten responses to his questions, on this particular file, he has asked numerous questions of his government about the abuse allegations and never got any answers to his questions.
“This file is different,” Guzzo said. “Very, very different.”
This file is important because the allegations that are being made involve the most vulnerable people and the most fragile people you can imagine.
“I continue to ask the questions and I am stonewalled.”
Earlier in the day, Pierre Landry, the now retired director of L’Equipe Pyscho-Sociale, finished his cross-examination.
Landry hired former probation officer Nelson Barque – who had admitted to having a sexual relationship with probationers and was later convicted of sexual abuse – as a school social worker.
It was recommended Barque resign as a probation officer and it had been suggested, even after an investigation was conducted into his contact with probationers, the ministry of correctional services should take no further action against him. Landry said if Barque had been fired instead, he would not have hired him to work at the agency.
Guzzo’s cross-examination is expected to continue Monday.
Guzzo Could Not Say If Harris Interfered In Abuse Investigations
Cornwall News AM 1220
November 30, 2007 — Former Ottawa area MPP Garry Guzzo says he is not prepared to conclude whether or not he believes former premier mike Harris subverted justice in Cornwall. Years ago, Guzzo fought for Cornwall to have an inquiry. Today, Guzzo said could not say whether or not Harris may have interfered in abuse investigations. (Hear audio clip below) Guzzo was also asked whether or not Harris should testify but he admitted he “has not given it any thought.”