Cornwall Ontario – We have a system that is utterly broken. It’s a cash machine for law enforcement and judicial system that essentially depend on each other to earn their incomes and improve their budgets.
There is a very low threshold of accountability for abuses or errors by police, and almost none against Crown Attorneys. Most times people that allege clearly false charges walk way with no punishment.
The Globe & Mail and other media have tackled some of this major issue that can impact just about anyone in the province.
Ontario’s criminal justice system is chaotic even on a good day. Jails are filled with people awaiting trial, getting to trial can take years, and the costs – both financial and social – are staggering. And yet crime rates have been falling steadily, to the point that Ontario has the lowest violent crime rate in Canada.
I know. I’ve experienced this multiple times in a city of only about 40,000 people.
My case sadly is not unique completely.
I was falsely arrested for making threatening phone calls. The Cornwall Community Police under Chief Dan Parkinson did not have any actual proof of me making any calls before laying of the charges other than my number appearing on the person who made the false claims, one Mike Bedard, Cst Casey McGregor nor the intake officer ever asked to see my phone to confirm I’d made any calls, nor was any production order issued prior to my arrest.
In fact Crown Jennifer Burke at one point refused my legal representations request to get a production order issued. When it finally arrived it showed that I’d never made a single call as per the Crown’s disclosure.
Of course by then I had to sign a peace bond to be released with punitive conditions or wait in jail to make bail. Violating those conditions I’m told would result in a worse sentence than the original crime.
Thanks to abuse by the Crown my charges were dropped nearly a year later, all that time with myself living under conditions, even though it had been categorically proven that I never made a single call.
The police refused to charge Mr. Bedard.
I was another number in the system. Ms Burke and the Crowns were paid. The police were paid. The justice’s were paid. My business and life were devastated.
Traci Trottier was supposed to work for our radio station. When she reneged on her contract and was taken to court she wasn’t terrible happy. Not once, but twice, I had to tell CCPS where I was when she made allegations of wrong doing on my part. Both times, luckily for myself, I was in public places.
Both times I asked to press charges. Both times the police refused. Again, the police were paid for their work. In the meanwhile more lies and cost were at my door.
A reader sent in the following about Ms Trottier:
I sincerely enjoyed your piece on police and fire transparency in this city. I did want to comment on this story but being I want to mention names, I will do so via email. As a XXXXXXXXX for eight years at the Cornwall Community hospital, I would like to share with you another incident where a so called prominent citizen was given treatment where if you or I committed, we would be going through the court system to save our ass. Approximately 2 years ago I witnessed a highly intoxicated female trying to pay for her exit ticket at the pay machine inside so she could leave the parking lot. This female (Traci Trottier) was so intoxicated that she couldn’t even figure out how to put a $5.00 bill in the machine. After several attempts, she left the building and went to her car. She pressed the help button at the exit gate and asked to be let out because she had no money. As I watched her (via CCTV) sit in her vehicle at the gate I tried to hold her up by telling her there were issues with the mechanics of the gate and I would get her out as soon as possible. I proceeded to call 911 to report the intoxicated female and also continued to inform her I was doing everything possible to let her out, only prolonging this for her while I waited for the police to arrive. When the police arrived in a matter of minutes, I went outside to witness the situation. She started crying and screaming at the police and told them if they charged her she would jump off the bridge. I was baffled when the police told her to exit the vehicle and then one of the officers proceeded to move her vehicle in to a parking stall and tell her they would drive her home and she could get her car the next day. It was quite obvious that she was not charged with DUI as I did see her pick up her car the next day and had seen her driving on numerous occasions after that incident. I guess it goes to show you that it’s not who you know but……Please feel free to do as you wish with this information on the condition that my name is not mentioned in the story.
Thanks for your time and keep up the great work of informing the citizens of Cornwall of news which we have a right to know.
Why does Ms Trottier seem to get all these free passes?
Ian Bowering, a local museum curator, struck my camera pushing it into my person, which is in fact assault. The incident is in the video above and he admits it in the video. The police refused to issue the charge with the Sgt on duty actually laughing and telling me to take it to a JP which we did. A crown and JP watched the video and also refused to lay a charge. Mr. Bowering was taken to civil court and paid the costs of the camera, but again, the cost of having to go to court was greater in time and resources for something that clearly should have been a simple assault charge.
There are about half a dozen other cases I could list here including that of a former sitting City Councilor, Robert Brock Frost, but the focus of this story is the abuse and cost to taxpayers of our policing and judicial system.
In my case locally it’s a tight nit political system that’s leading to abuse.
Collin Fitzgerald, one of Canada’s most decorated soldiers went through hell via the Morrisburg OPP. He may never see true justice because of the brutal cost in bringing actions to court. After several years he’s regained control of his life and is doing it much better, but at a huge cost which includes no longer spending much time in the area and the loss of a beloved family pet.
All you have to do to see our system in action is follow the police blotter. What little is shared locally adds up to huge budgets that clog up our system. What isn’t shared is horrific many times.
Can you imagine being innocent of a crime and having to sign brutal conditions to be released or be stuck in jail for up to weeks waiting for a bail hearing? That’s insane. And you really have no leverage or choice. You’re at the total mercy of the crown regarding these conditions.
Instead of there being any true police or crown accountability the Ontario government simply has hired more lawyers to push people through the meatgrinder of injustice. That’s kinda insane. That’s just burning cash instead of fixing the system.
The only remedies available are simply not available unless you have very very deep pockets which most don’t, especially with the high cost of hydro in this province.
In Quebec and BC police cannot file a charge without the crown signing off on it.
In Ontario, 43 per cent of charges laid are ultimately stayed or withdrawn. Of those that do go to trial, the conviction rate is just 55 per cent. Ontario has by far the lowest conviction rate in the country, and the highest number, again by far, of cases that are dropped.
In Quebec, where police must get the approval of a Crown prosecutor before laying charges, a mere 8.6 per cent of charges are stayed or withdrawn, and the conviction rate is 75 per cent. In British Columbia, where the Crown similarly has to approve charges, only 29 per cent of charges are dropped and the conviction rate is 70 per cent.
Having your name smeared in the police blotter when you’re innocent can destroy a life and family. The cost to Ontario residents is huge when police and crown abuse is tolerated with no checks and balances. With zero accountability it’s a license to destroy lives and corruption.
Clearly Ontario needs to move towards the Quebec & BC model, but more importantly it needs to clean up 720 Bay Street. It also needs to create a way for victims of abuse to find remedy without the punitive costs of Superior court which many simply cannot afford and wait times can run into years.
In Ottawa, just the second manslaughter charge against an officer since 1990 was laid after most of the brutal mess was captured on video. Are Ottawa police officers that clean and professional or is there simply an issue with charging and prosecuting officers? Those numbers for our Nation’s Capital are actually lower than Cornwall’s 40,000 population.
The SIU’s former director, who served from 2008 to 2013, said he thinks the zero conviction rate in Ottawa is an anomaly, but conceded that making charges stick is challenging.
Ian Scott, who was the SIU’s director from 2008 to 2013, says he believes Ottawa’s zero conviction rate is an ‘anomaly.’ (CBC)
“Police are in a very unusual circumstance when criminal charges are laid against them,” Ian Scott said, explaining that it’s more complex because officers are tasked by society to use force if necessary.
Police also have “very good lawyers,” and often juries are sympathetic to the challenges officers face, Scott said.
The public needs to be able to feel safe from their own police and justice system.
It seems the only person not protected in our police and judicial system in Ontario are the victims of false complaints and abuse of the justice system. Does that make any sense?
Surely if police, crowns, and justices were held to a higher level of accountability there would be less room for error and abuse in the system?
What do you think dear CFN viewer? You can post your comments below.