|Garry Guzzo (then Ontario Progressive Conservative Member of Provincial Parliament) 03 February 1999 letter to Ron McLaughlin, chief of staff to Ontario Progressive Conservative Premier Michael Harris. (text version of scanned copy)
|OntarioOntario LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY
GARRY GUZZO, M.P.P.
Queen’s Park Office 4th Floor.
M7A 1A1Tel. (416) 325-8177
Fax (416) 325-8204
885 Meadowlands Dr.
K2C 3N2Tel. (613) 727-2657
Fax (613) 224-308
April 3, 1999
Dear Mr. McLaughlin,
This will acknowledge and thank you for yours of March 24, 1999. Please be advised that this letter was received by courier at my constituency office on March 30, 1999.
You have advised that my letters of September 18, 1998 and February 23, 1999 have been turned over to the Attorney General. You further advise that issues related to law enforcement and the administration of justice are appropriately dealt with by the Attorney General. I wish to re-advise you that copies of both of my letters were sent to both the Attorney General and the Solicitor General. I wish to advise you that, while I agree that matters of administration of justice are the jurisdiction of the Attorney General, I am of the opinion that law enforcement matters, as they relate to police, are the prerogative of the Solicitor General, and for that reason, I chose to forward copies of both of my letters to both the Attorney General and the Solicitor General.
I concur with your opinion that it would be inappropriate for the Office of the Premier to intervene in a police investigation. Nowhere have I requested intervention in a police investigation. My letter of September 18, 1998 questions whether or not there is really a police investigation taking place. I further question as to whether or not there was a prior investigation, which allegedly was wound up by a press release issued on Christmas Eve of 1994. You are no doubt aware that in that press release, the Ontario Provincial Police condoned the work of the Cornwall Police with regard to this matter. The Ontario Provincial Police said at that time there were no problems with the way the matter had been conducted and there were no grounds for the laying of any charges and that the matter was at an end. Notwithstanding those statements, we now have a total of 79 charges having been laid against 12 accused and approximately 80 per cent of these charges relate to incidences which took place prior to 1993-94. Does this fact in any way raise in your mind the question of the competency of the investigation or the accuracy of the information contained in the press release issued Christmas Eve of 1994? Should any of this be of any concern to you as the gatekeeper to the Premier or to me, a lowly government backbencher?
Would your answer be any different if you had people sitting in your office last week, as did 1, who allege that their child was continually sexually abused over the past year (up until December, 1998) by people named in documentation forwarded to our government on April 7, 1997, but not turned over to the investigating officers of Project Truth (OPP) until taxpayers and private citizens in the City of Cornwall took it upon themselves to re-serve these documents on the investigating officers on July 31, 1998? (See Ottawa Sun story March 24, 1999 with copy of letter signed by Detective Pat Hall.) While you are attempting to answer these questions, you might also direct your mind to the issue of the liability of our government for damages suffered by the child in question, (if, in fact, the allegations of continuing abuse until December, 1998 are accurate) or liability on the part of the Ontario Provincial Police. You might ask yourself what the defense of the Ontario Government or the OPP might be in a civil action brought by the parents of this child if, of course, the allegations can be proven to be true.
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The first issue is that of the prior, and possibly continuing, sexual abuse of young children over the past 40 years in the Cornwall area.
The second issue is the quality of police services rendered by one, two or three police forces since 1992.
With regard to the first issue, civil actions are winding their way through the courts and those people, who can afford it, will be successful in having their cases heard. The others, who cannot afford to commence legal action, will be totally ignored. Remember, sir, that some of these people have already committed suicide and others have attempted suicide. And remember the pain and suffering we saw on the faces of the victims at our training schools in Ontario during the ’50s and the images of Mt. Cashel after the judicial inquiry therein. To take no action with regard to these individuals would be consistent with the attitude of our government for the first six months following the release of the Krever Report in the fall of 1997. We casually told those inflicted with those tainted blood products to go over in the corner and die until April, 1998, at which time we did a 180 degrees. You may recall that I had some comments to make in December, 1997, and again in the spring of 1998, with regard to our position herein. You will recall the response given to me in the caucus meetings, and privately, was similar to the response I have been receiving since my letter of September 18, 1998 with regard to this matter – cold silence. However, something miraculous did happen in the spring of 1998 and our government made a 180 degree turn, for which I am very, very thankful and appreciative. I don’t know who or what caused such a reversal in form on the part of our government, but I know that it wasn’t the logic and the reasoning of a lowly backbencher, like the undersigned. I might also refer you to our sound positioning on the issue of the remaining Dionne quintuplets and our reversal in form therein. As a breeder, owner and bettor of racehorses, I know a great deal about reversals in form, but the only thing to match our government’s performances in this regard would seemingly be Saul on the road to Damascus or Lazarus in the eighth race at Jerusalem Downs.
The second issue, the quality of the police services rendered to the people in question, is self-explanatory. In 1993-94, the Cornwall Police closed its files and could find no one to charge in this matter. In 1994, the Ontario Provincial Police closed its file on Christmas Eve and could find no one to charge as a result of these allegations. However, after private citizens did the police work, for example, travelled to Florida to find proof of the alleged victims registered in hotels in the Ft. Lauderdale pedophile strip (not at Disney Land, not in a recreational area, but on the pedophile strip in Ft. Lauderdale) and not until civil suits were commenced against some of the named perpetrators, who were registered with these then youngsters, did the Ontario Provincial Police quietly re-open its investigation. We now have 79 charges against 12 alleged perpetrators, 80 percent of which allegedly took place prior to the OPP winding up its first investigation on Christmas Eve 1994.
Your letter, Mr. McLaughlin, seems to suggest the Attorney General is the individual who should handle these matters. In the Ottawa Sun of April 1, 1999, Premier Harris is quoted as saying: ‘It is not appropriate for a politician to look into this situation.” A copy of the Ottawa Sun article is enclosed herewith. The problem, of course, Mr. McLaughlin, is that Mr. Harnick, the Attorney General, to whom you refer me in your letter of March 24, 1999, is a politician. He is also one of the people, along with the Solicitor General, to whom I sent copies of both of my letters addressed to the Premier. The Solicitor General’s office released those letters to the Ontario Provincial Police and as a result of having done so, the Solicitor General’s copies of those letters were the one’s that ended up in the press.
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The first call was received at my home in Florida on March 5, 1999. The call was from one Wayne Frechette, who described himself as a Deputy Commissioner with the Ontario Provincial Police. Mr. Frechette informed me that he was the Deputy Commissioner in charge of all criminal investigations for the Ontario Provincial Police and that he was aware of all criminal investigations taking place, particularly he had reviewed his file and all matters concerning Project Truth in the City of Cornwall, as a result of having received a copy of a letter I sent to you. He advised that he had received it from a named person in the Solicitor General’s office. Mr. Frechette asked me in plain English what the hell I was talking about when I spoke of affidavits, documents and evidence served upon our government on April 7, 1997. He told me that no one in the Ontario Provincial Police was aware of any of this material and he, quite frankly, questioned the accuracy of my statements that same even existed. He reiterated that he was the senior person in charge of criminal investigations with the Ontario Provincial Police and that if such documentation existed, he was certain none of his officers in Cornwall, and no one at the Orillia headquarters, was even aware that this documentation existed. I did not tell Deputy Commissioner Frechette that I had been advised (but could not prove), that his officers had been re-served with this documentation some time in the late summer or fall of 1998 as a result of his officers having told lawyers and private citizens in Cornwall that they did not know of the documentation served upon the Solicitor General and the Attorney General in April, 1997 did not tell him that it had been quoted to me that one of his investigating officers had said at the time of the re-serving of these documents that they (Project Truth) had received no documentation from OPP headquarters, but had only received documentation and mostly “newspaper clippings” from a third party, who was named by the Project Truth officer at that time. I did not repeat this to Deputy Commissioner Frechette at the time because, quite frankly, I questioned the accuracy of the information I was receiving in a second-hand fashion and I could not fathom that someone other than senior OPP officers were directing this Project Truth, which was an operation of the Ontario Provincial Police. While I did not accept the accuracy of same, it remained in the back of my mind and bothered me considerably.
I advised Deputy Commissioner Frechette to check with the Solicitor General with regard to the documentation served thereupon and he said that he would. We concluded the conversation by Deputy Commissioner Frechette advising me that I was dead wrong, but that if I. was right, he had very serious problems on his hands. The Deputy Commissioner asked me if I would be willing to meet with him when I returned to Canada and I told him that I would be willing to fly back to Canada just to meet with him. I did, in fact, return to Toronto for a couple of days and called and left a message that I was returning, but did not hear from Deputy Commissioner Frechette. When I returned to Canada, I faxed the Deputy Commissioner to advise him that I was back and that I would be in Toronto on certain days and some five or six days later received a return call to my office advising that all the documentation in question had been located and that there was no need for us to get together. The Deputy Commissioner did not offer any explanation as to how 23 months after the service of same he, being the individual being directly responsible for all criminal investigations of the OPP, did not know of the documentation, nor did he refer to the Ottawa Sun article of March 24, 1999, which included a copy of the letter signed by one of his lead investigators, Patrick Hall, acknowledging receipt of same on July 31, 1998 and admitting that he had never seen those documents prior thereto. That is correct, Constable Hall said he had been on the case since Project Truth was initiated, and not withstanding the service of the documentation on not one, but two, departments of our government, he had not seen these documents some 16 months after the date of service upon our government. It is most unfortunate that the officer did not include, in writing, his alleged comments with regard to having received zero documentation from the Ontario Provincial Police headquarters and the name of the third party from whom he had received documentation, limited as it may have been.
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I could not believe my ears, but I then asked Mr. Segal if it was possible that a OPP investigation (Project Truth) could be directed by someone other than senior OPP officers at OPP headquarters in Orillia. Mr. Segal advised me that such a situation could never exist. At this time I admit I did not tell him of my conversation three days earlier with the Deputy Commissioner responsible for criminal investigations in the Ontario Provincial Police, Mr. Wayne Frechette. However, I did ask Mr. Segal about evidence and documentation that related to Florida and the registration of alleged victims with alleged perpetrators some 25 years earlier in motels located in what is known as the pedophile strip – the Birch Road – in Ft. Lauderdale. I asked him, in his role as chief prosecutor for Ontario, why, in his opinion, this evidence had not been retrieved in this case. I asked Mr. Segal why, in his opinion as the chief prosecutor, registration slips bearing the names of the alleged victims and the alleged perpetrators, registered in the same rooms in this motel on the pedophile strip, were not seized and returned to Canada and taken to a forensic lab to have the signatures compared with the signatures of some of these prominent people. Mr. Segal said he could not answer that question. I then volunteered an answer to him. 1 suggested to him, not as a chief prosecutor, but someone who has practiced law for 30 years, save and except for 11 years on the bench, that I could think of only one reason why this evidence had not been retrieved and why the people who worked in that motel when these people stayed there, had not been interviewed and shown pictures of the individuals in question, as had been done by the private citizens, who attended upon these people, at their own considerable expense I might add, late in the year 1996. Mr. Segal did not want to hear my reason, which I felt was the only reason why this evidence had not been obtained.
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So, Mr. McLaughlin, I would ask you to please address my dilemma. You tell me in your letter of March 24, 1999 (which I note is the date of the Ottawa Sun article, which included the revealing letter signed by Detective Hall of Project Truth) that I should deal with the Attorney General. The Attorney General’s Deputy Minister tells me: “Do not call me, call the OPP”, which is clearly improper. The Premier of the Province tells me through the newspaper article in the April 1 Ottawa Sun article that no politician should be looking into this matter.
You no doubt appreciate, sir, my dilemma, particularly in view of the parents who sat across from me less than a week ago, re: the alleged continued abuse of their child by people named in the documentation served on our government on April 7, 1997. These parents allege that the abuse commenced early in 1997 and continued after July 31, 1998. These people have asked me for my help in light of the fact that I am a democratically elected member of the Ontario Legislature. They look upon me as a person who took an Oath of Office when I was sworn into this position. They look upon me as a lawyer, who took an oath when I was called to the Bar of this province in 1969 and, quite frankly, sir, they expect me to do something to protect their child and other children in Cornwall, who are still being exposed to people who have access to children on a daily basis and have been named in the documentation that was served on our government (two separate departments) on April 7, 1997.
I should be obliged if you, Mr. McLaughlin, the Chief of Staff of the Premier of this Province, would provide me with an answer! What am I to tell these parents, Mr. McLaughlin? Am I to tell them that my hands are tied because you say so, or because you told me on March 17, 1999 that you were going to turn the matter over to Rita Burak to have the matter resolved? Am I to tell these people that my hands are tied because Mike Harris suggests no politician should look into this matter?
I should be obliged if I could have your direction on or before noon on Wednesday, April 7, 1999. I choose this date because I am going to take some action immediately thereafter.
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However, sir, please to do not advise me to go to the Cornwall Police, who as early as 1993 spoke of a cover-up in these matters as is outlined in the notes of Staff Sgt. Derochie, which notes were provided in disclosure in the matters leading up to charges under the Police Services Act against Cornwall Police Constable Perry Dunlop. You are, of course, aware that the Board of Inquiry, which sat on September 23. 1994 and issued its decision on January 31, 1995, completely exonerated the Cornwall Police officer (Perry Dunlop) of any wrongdoing. The chair of that hearing was M. Tuffman and board members Tompkins and Davis concurred in the decision. I know also, that you are aware that the matter was then appealed to the Ontario Divisional Court of Justice and that a court composed of Mr. Justices Southey, McRae and Desmarais heard the appeal of November 23, 1995 and the decision of the Ontario Divisional Court was rendered on December 7, 1995. The court denied the appeal of the Police Complaints Commissioner, thereby completely exonerating the Cornwall Police officer. The decision of the Ontario Divisional Court, written by Mr. Justice McRae is recorded in the Ontario Law Reports 260.R. (3d) at page 582. However, I am certain that you have reviewed much of this material prior to giving any of your first three opinions and you are familiar with the evidence contained in the file as it relates to the notes of Staff Sgt. Derochie. Notwithstanding your familiarity with the background and information referred to, I would just like to draw your attention, for the purposes of refreshing your memory, to the evidence which was provided therein.
Starting in evidence book 1, with the statement of Deputy Chief St. Denis, you will recall that he referred to meetings in September and October 1993 and he refers to Sgt. Lortie using the phrase “cover-up” and that Sgt. Lortie was very upset, and agitated about the way the case had been handled. The Deputy Chief goes on to refer to the fact that Sgt. Lortie’s concerns were shared by Staff Sgt. Brunet, who later discussed the comments with him. Later in that same evidence book, the Deputy Chief states: “It was obvious to me that Chief Shaver was bypassing the chain of command and as I had little or no input or was not involved in most discussions between the Chief’s office and the Criminal investigation Bureau (Youth Bureau) – and indicates that he had little opportunity to influence the file.” The Deputy Chief notes that on November 2, 1993 Chief Shaver announced his retirement but that the Chief (Shaver) was still firmly in control of decisions with respect to Constable Dunlop’s case.
Turning to evidence book 2, page 230, Staff Sgt. Derochie notes: “Mr. Abel had serious concerns about the way the case had been handled.” Mr. Abel was the Executive Director of the Children’s Aid Society in Cornwall, who had attempted to conduct an investigation as a result of learning of the settlement of a civil case in the amount of $32,000, which also included a breach of the Criminal Code. Mr. Abel had been advised that two other youngsters had brought complaints against Father Charles MacDonald in addition to the individual who was now being paid off on the condition that he not bring any criminal charges forward. However, the Cornwall Police refused to provide the names of the two other individuals to the Children’s Aid Society so that they could complete an exhaustive investigation. It’s noted that it appears reading between the lines that the Cornwall Police also failed to notify the Crown Attorney that two other youngsters had complained about Father Charles MacDonald and some of the police officers indicate that they sincerely doubt the Crown Attorney’s office would have handled Father MacDonald’s case in the manner in which it was handled in 1993, if full disclosure had been made to the Crown Attorney by their police department. You will note that in this case concerning the $32,000 the lawyer for the Archdiocese, a former Crown Attorney, pleaded guilty to obstructing justice. There were no charges brought against his client, the Roman Catholic Episcopal Corporation of Alexandria, nor were there charges brought against the Police Chief and other high-ranking members of the Cornwall Police Department, who were aware of all conditions with regard to the settlement (see the correspondence between solicitors and the Cornwall Police.) It is not clear as to whether or not the Crown Attorney was aware of all the conditions, but it certainly appears so. One must then wonder why only the lawyer for the Archdiocese, and not the Archdiocese, and not the high-ranking police officers, and maybe even the Crown Attorney, were not charged with
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obstructing justice in this matter, as well. However, I am sure you have exhausted your review of this matter and have satisfied yourself that maybe it would be appropriate for me to return these victims, and the parents of victims, to the Cornwall Police.
See page 232 of evidence book 2. Staff Sgt. Derochie says; “After speaking with Mr. Abel, I had serious concerns about the whole issue of mismanagement of this case”…”l met with the Chief and the Deputy and they were both aware of the facts relative to this investigation.”
Page 270 of evidence book 2 is very interesting with regard to how the investigation could be “fixed”.
See page 271 of evidence book 2 where Greg Bell of the Children’s Aid Society of Cornwall asks the Cornwall Police for the names of the other victims (re: Father Charles MacDonald) and Chief (Shaver) says: “No”. Page 274 of evidence book 2 indicates the criminal investigation branch of the Cornwall Police lost jurisdiction in this matter to the Chief.
See page 284 of evidence book 2 where Staff Sgt. Derochie asks the Senior Crown Attorney, Murray MacDonald, to arrange a meeting with an outside Crown Attorney in L’Orignai. The Crown Attorney said he would “if we, in fact, had a victim.” Staff Sgt. Derochie says: “I got the impression he (Crown Attorney) would not arrange a meeting unless we had a charge to lay.” Take note that the Crown Attorney had not been advised that there were two other complainants against this accused in addition to the individual who was being bought off for $32,000 under the conditions which breached the Criminal Code.
On page 285 of evidence book 2, the Crown Attorney identified this case “as being another example of the church covering up sexual misconduct of a priest.”
On page 286 of evidence book 2, the Crown Attorney Murray MacDonald states that: “People commit suicide over things like this” – very prophetic.
Therefore, Mr. McLaughlin, if I am free to conclude that it would not be appropriate to send these people beck to the Cornwall Police, I must then ask if it would be appropriate to refer these people to the Ontario Provincial Police, which is conducting its second investigation into these matters. This is the force under the direction of detectives Hall and Smith, who wound up the first investigation without laying charges on Christmas Eve 1994. Now, you, Mr. McLaughlin, being in the communication business, know why press releases are issued on Christmas Eve.
If not, then to whom should I send these people. My list is getting quite short.
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Please, sir, no more stories that everything is perfectly okay and that there is no problem here. We definitely do have a serious problem here and there is no alternative but to address it and to address it squarely. I am most anxious to have your views in writing before I make my decision as to how I intend to handle this matter.
I do not need any more calls from “friends” in my church, in my profession, in my Party, or in my government, explaining how embarrassing this situation will be. I appreciate just how difficult and how embarrassing it might be. I have seen some of the names referred to in the affidavits and witness statements and sincerely hope that they are not guilty. However, I am not going to make that decision. You, sir, are not going to make that decision either. That decision is going to be made by people in authority, who take a professional and honest view of the evidence, all of the evidence. So far, that has not been done. My suggestion of a judicial inquiry, with what has gone on to date, is not an intervention by political masters in a police investigation. In light of the evidence that is now available, it is a very reasonable proposition.
However, there may be other methods of handling this that may be equally appropriate and I welcome your suggestions on or before April 7, 1997. However, I refuse to accept any huffing and puffing about political interference in police matters. I repeat, I am not asking anyone to interfere in a police investigation. A judicial inquiry would inquire into whether or not an investigation has, in fact, taken place and, if so why it would take 24 months to interview people who were named in sworn statements. Please note, Mr. Mclaughlin, on Wednesday next, the key documentation will have been in our hands, as a result of a service on April 7, 1997, for a period of two years. Don’t be fooled by that date. Much of this evidence was available long before April, 1997. It was only collected and documented and placed in a complete and thorough brief at that time. But it was available long before that date. Many of the people named in the documentation referred to are still in a position of trust and have access to children on a daily basis. We, as a government, have an obligation to those children and I believe this government must live up to that obligation.
I don’t have any concerns for people who will be hurt by a judicial inquiry or any other action that this government takes. If members of our government or members of the OPP have made an honest mistake, then let’s disclose it and get on with providing the type of protection to which the people of the Cornwall area are entitled. If there is something more here, then the sooner we get to the bottom of it, the better for everyone concerned. If we, as a government, are not prepared to be part of the solution, then we are definitely a part of the problem.
In closing, let me refer you to some newspaper reports towards the end of January and early February, 1999 quoting Clancy Gransten, a spokesman for the Ontario Provincial Police, saying: “The Ontario Provincial Police are getting ready to wind-up Project Truth and that it should be completed by early summer, 1999.” I admit that statement was made prior to the disclosure of Detective Hall acknowledging that he received the documentation only on July 31, 1998. However, one must remember that July 31, 1998 was seven months ago. These victims have been waiting for justice for a long time and, quite frankly, any attempt to make them wait longer is totally unconscionable.
I look forward to your reply.
Yours very truly,
Garry J. Guzzo, MPP
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cc: Hon. Charles Harnick. Attorney General