|Garry Guzzo 18 September 1998 letter to Ontario Progressive Conservative Premier Michael Harris. At the time Guzzo was the duly elected Progressive Conservative Member of the Provincial Parliament (MPP) for Ottawa-Rideau.|
GARRY GUZZO, M.P.P
885 Meadowlands Drive
Tel. (613) 727-2657
Queen’s Park Office
4th Floor, Whitney Block
Tel. (416) 325-8177
Fax (416) 325-8204
Hon. Michael Harris
Subject: Ontario Provincial Police/ Project Truth
Dear Mr. Premier,
Due to the urgency and complexity of the issue, I have chosen to put this matter in writing, I regretfully have no alternative but to communicate in this manner.
The above captioned matter is the subject of an ongoing (actually second investigation) by the Ontario Provincial Police in the City of Cornwall. It involves an allegation of a pedophile group sexually abusing a number of young persons in the Cornwall area and dates back over 35 years. The fact that it is an ongoing police investigation creates obvious problems and I want to assure you at the outset that I have been most careful and diligent in a manner in which I have satisfied myself of the information I am about to relay. I should also draw to your attention that I was contacted by a number of citizens in the Cornwall area, whom I have known through my church, the legal community, through my time on the bench when I would sit in the Cornwall area on occasion and through the Progressive Conservative Party over the past 40 years. I have also, through a friend, a retired police officer in the Ft. Lauderdale, Florida area, had communications and representations made to me with regard to this issue as it relates to the use of property in the Ft. Lauderdale area. Again, I state that I have been extremely careful not to do anything that in any way will embarrass the government or myself as a practising member of the bar in attempting to discover the facts of a situation that are at least as bizarre and maybe worse than Mt. Cashel.
The first allegation of police wrongdoing goes back to about 1992 when the Cornwall Police Department did an internal investigation and satisfied itself that there was absolutely no wrongdoing and no cover-up with regard to the allegations made vis-a-vis “a pedophile group” operating in the Cornwall area. In January 1994, the Ottawa Police Force was called in and did an internal investigation and apparently came to the same conclusion. In mid 1994 the Ontario Provincial Police did its first investigation and reported in a press release on Dec. 24, 1994 that there was no evidence of any wrongdoing on the part of the police and no evidence that further charges were necessary with regard to the allegations. After civil suits commenced, the Ontario Provincial Police re-entered the fray and laid a couple of charges against a cleric and a senior citizen and obviously continued to follow the matter without really announcing that they had re-entered the situation. This probably took place towards the end of 1995 or early 1996. As information came forward from the civil suits, which had been commenced, there was obvious police involvement investigating certain aspects of the complaints, which had filtered through the system, but no additional charges were immediately laid. Shortly thereafter an incident occurred when a complainant, who was suing the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Alexandria, entered into a settlement with the Archdiocese, but a condition was imposed by the Archdiocese that no criminal charge could be pursued. This is clearly a violation of the Criminal Code of Canada and totally improper and as a result the lawyer representing the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Alexandria was charged with, and pleaded guilty to, a charge of obstruction of justice with regard to this “arrangement”.
Notwithstanding this rather shocking situation, the Roman Catholic Archbishop went on the offensive and no further action appears to have been taken with regard to other people involved with this situation.
On or about the month of April (during the first week of April of 1997) a Cornwall Police officer, who has been very actively involved in this matter, and a retired police officer from the Toronto Police, served upon two ministries in our government, volumes of documentation with regard to this issue. I think it is clear that at least one of the ministries forwarded the documentation to the Ontario Provincial Police at that time and apparently further investigation was commenced, or the investigation, which had been re-started on or about 1995 or 1996, was intensified. Approximately one month ago, a series of charges were laid in Cornwall against some high profile members of the community, including a 76-year-old doctor and a 47-year-old practising attorney. Also charged were three more members of the clergy of the Catholic Church working in the Archdiocese of Alexandria. This fact, in itself, would leave one to believe that finally, things were beginning to move and that someone was looking seriously at some of the allegations that had been made as far back as 1992, remembering, of course, that the acts complained of go back to the early 1960’s.
This, however, is not the case! As a result of the request of some individuals in the Cornwall area, in whom I have a tremendous amount of confidence, and in addition to a retired police officer in the Ft. Lauderdale area, I have had occasion to look at some of the documentation and some of the evidence from which I have had to conclude that only two possible explanations exist for the debacle I have witnessed.
I again reiterate that I have been most careful not to overstep my bounds, either as an attorney, nor as a member of the House. I have been particularly careful to speak to only those individuals who have wished to speak with me and I have reviewed only documentation people have voluntarily brought to me – albeit at the request of either citizens of the City of Cornwall or at the request of the retired police officer in Ft. Lauderdale.
I must say now that the answers you receive from your ministers in question and from the Ontario Provincial Police will strongly indicate that progress is being made, mainly that most recently, very high profile people have been charged, and that no one should be able to criticize what has been taking place from a police point of view at this time. However, this is definitely not the case. I do admit that I am fascinated with the charges recently laid in Cornwall against the seven high profile individuals and I do acknowledge it must have been a very exhaustive, complete and, professional police investigation that gave rise to those charges.
The problem is this, Mike. The people who signed affidavits, who made depositions under oath, some of which were inculpatory in nature, have not been interrogated after one-and-a-half years. One-and-a-half years after the serving upon our government of the documentation, which included, I am told, lengthy sworn depositions outlining the specific abuse in question, these people have not been interrogated by the Ontario Provincial Police. Notwithstanding the sworn evidence presented in April of 1997, the police have not interrogated these people, but have successfully investigated other areas and have produced new charges. I am aware that some of those people who swore those affidavits and made those statements are people who have had a checkered past in the criminal courts. This is easily understood in light of the abuse which they say they suffered at the hands of the individuals named in their affidavits and depositions. This was true of the youth at Mt. Cashel and is definitely true of the youth in our penal system in Ontario in the 1950s – namely Alfred and St.Joseph training schools. However, not all of the people who filed depositions and affidavits with our government in 1997 have a criminal past. Miraculously some of these individuals have gone on to make a contribution to society. They hold down very competent jobs at the present time and are not anxious to have their wives and their children learn of this history. However, in the interests of attempting to have justice done they were willing to make these affidavits and have them served on our government. I am 100 per cent certain in my own mind that the former owners and operators of the motel on the pedophile strip in Ft. Lauderdale, where the complainants stated they were taken on occasion by some of these perpetrators in the 1970s, have not been interrogated, nor have the motel records been requested by the police doing the investigation.
I’m sure you are aware that the police officer who has been pushing this matter has appeared on television, I believe that it was W5, and that W5 has re-run the program on more than one occasion. The entire City of Cornwall is aware of the allegation and has formed its own opinion with regard to the truth of those allegations or lack thereof. The issue then is not whether the people named in the depositions filed with the Ontario government in April of 1997 should be charged. The issue is whether or not a full investigation has taken place on the strength of this sworn evidence. I doubt very much that there was documented sworn evidence available when the investigation was started against the people who were charged a month ago. The question then arises as to why when strong viable evidence is placed before the police would they not start with these sworn statements, particularly when some of the statements are inculpatory in nature?
The next question one must ask, of course, is can we be certain that all of the documentation that was served upon our government was turned over to the OPP? Let me say that from what I have seen I am satisfied that it was. However, I cannot be certain of this fact, but I would state that from what I have observed I am satisfied that our government has not done anything wrong, nor did the previous government do anything wrong prior to June of 1995. The problem is that no one in their right mind would ever believe that when the issue becomes public, as it most certainly will over the next couple of months. No one will believe that there has not been government interference in this matter, whether or not there has or has not been.
I hesitate to make any recommendations with regard to what should be done, but I do feel the matter cries out for a judicial inquiry into the actions of the Ontario Provincial Police and possibly the Cornwall Police and maybe even the Ottawa Police, if they in fact did
Let me tell you that in the past when I have raised matters such as the Quebec Referendum situation in the first week of September, 1995 or my views on energy as a Parliamentary Assistant, or my views on hospital restructuring or the Montfort Hospital issue or the David Levine matter or other political issues in the past, I have been relying on people such as highly placed individuals in the Quebec government or senior bureaucrats at Atomic Energy Canada or my own gut political feelings with regard to the language and cultural issues in Ottawa-Carleton. In these matters I am always prepared to be proven wrong as I am in this matter now. However, let me make it abundantly clear that I have done some homework on this issue. I have spent my own money in travelling to places as far as the United States to speak with people who signed affidavits and made depositions which were served on our government in April of 1997. In my time on the bench I was forced on a daily basis to decide who was lying and who was telling the truth and I have listened intently to some of the people who made those affidavits and signed those depositions and I can tell you directly that they are all not lying.
As I look at all the evidence, I am satisfied that something is dreadfully out of joint. May I make one other point, Mike, that maybe I should have made at the beginning. I sat in Cornwall as a judge on numerous occasions and am therefore familiar with or know personally some of the people against whom allegations are made in the documentations served in April of 1997. I will also tell you as a practising Catholic and with friends of the Catholic faith in Cornwall, I have had contact with some other people who are named therein on a casual basis through marriages of children and baptisms of children and grandchildren, etc. I draw this to your attention to make you understand that what I am saying I do not say lightly and that what I have been going through in doing the research that I have done has not been a pleasant experience. However, I must tell you that I am satisfied that some of these allegations are truthful and accurate and that the individuals named herein are probably continuing the same type of behaviour in 1998.
I have hesitated to advise the two ministers responsible herein and would request a private meeting with you prior to your making the contents of this letter known to anyone. There is an abundance of information available which I choose not to refer to herein because I cannot prove the truth of same. However, I have little doubt that it is accurate.
I do trust that you appreciate my concern for the safety of my family and staff and respectfully request your prompt attention in this most serious matter.
Yours very truly,
Garry Guzzo, MPP
cc: Hon. Charles Harnick, Attorney General