Reliving unnecessary horror, or why McKay’s sons should not have been called

(The bland-looking home where Phoenix Sinclair was tortured and murdered)
(The bland-looking Fisher River home where Phoenix Sinclair was tortured and murdered)

I hear you when you say your family’s broken … what this has done to you. — Commissioner Ted Hughes

There was absolutely no need for the Phoenix Sinclair Inquiry staff to put Karl McKay’s sons on the witness stand today.

And even having his ex-wife (a McKay domestic-abuse survivor) testifying today was questionable, save for the fact she says she notified Chid and Family Services of potential abuse to Phoenix long before the McKay-Kematch house of cards coming down on top of them in March 2006.

For the inquiry’s sake, she needed to be questioned on this point. That’s fair game.

But the fact there were few cross-examination questions for the McKay “boys” from non-inquiry lawyers [In fact not a single query for child the elder] is telling.

This is just my respectful opinion: There was virtually nothing McKay’s sons had to offer this inquiry which couldn’t have been tendered through affidavit evidence, sparing them the stress of reliving in public the horror they’ve experienced and already testified to in court in 2008.

This became clear to me pretty quickly. These are two now-young adult men who’ve been rocked to the core by what they’ve been forced to live through, through no fault of their own.

And the one likely the most directly affected, McKay son the younger — the eyewitness to a lot of the horror Phoenix went through in a supposedly “tight-knit” Fisher River community which apparently failed to notice she was even around — was clearly terrified by the prospect of being pilloried in the public eye for not speaking up sooner about what he saw than he did.

“Can I make a statement,” the 20-year-old asked at the conclusion of his hour-long direct examination by commission counsel.

Yes, said Commissioner Hughes. The young man had a message for the media in the room — of which there was more than has been usual.

Can I ask you reporters – don’t try to make me sound like the baddest guy on earth?

I read the paper, you guys make it sound bad – you guys make it sound horrible. I couldn’t help it, man.

That’s like the only thing I ask — just don’t make it sound like I’m really bad and terrible, Because I already feel bad. Now that I’m older I feel, like, so terrible and it’s bad enough that you guys are bringing this all back to me and I got all these little memories flashing in my head.

I just want to forget all that.

And without a doubt, we should be doing everything we can to help these young men get past this. Commissioner Hughes even graciously pledged to McKay’s ex to help as much as he could.

What child the younger witnessed basically ruined his life, he said.

“Where do I start?,” he asked when lead commission lawyer Sherri Walsh queried how the Phoenix incident has affected him:

“I’m a pretty fucked up person now. … used to be a good kid … all of it’s gone like that (he snaps his fingers a few times).” He said he turned to drugs, booze and crime to “block out what I seen.” “(I’m) trying to get my life back together,” he told Hughes. “(It) made me a terrible person,” he said.

His brother’s no different: “I think it made me more like my dad, because I get — when I rage, I can do some damage,” he said.

They were just kids when Phoenix died. Not paid social-work professionals or community vanguards.

Mere children who came from not very much and now saddled forever with the burden of what their odious father did.

The younger son won’t even call him his father, saying he prefers “Wesley” or “Karl.”

If there was one thing their testimony did accomplish, it was to further cement for commissioner Hughes the culture of fear they, and others in their positions, lived in.

  • Fear of Karl McKay, their violent and vengeful father (their dad) — and what he might do if they ratted on him.
  • Fear of the child-welfare system [both boys were apparently scared when Intertribal CFS workers turned up to ‘rescue’ them in July 2005]
  • Fear of the media and public scorn — of being cast as villains in this horrific tale.

It’s been many torturous weeks since Rohan Stephenson testified at this now-$10-million inquiry.

But it was his words that really gave the most insight into what the major problem was when it comes to considering Phoenix’s case.

“So I was a liar, and (CFS) were incompetent and 15,000 other circumstances all came together and now Phoenix is dead,” he said Dec. 6.

The more I reflect on this, the more simple dissecting Phoenix’s pathetic voyage through ‘the system’ becomes. It really boils down to this:

CFS can’t do its job if people won’t come forward with information, for whatever reasons — including their fear of ‘the system.’

At the same time, when CFS was given information about Phoenix, it failed to rate much attention or urgency until it was too late.

Putting McKay’s sons on the stand today, in my humble opinion, takes us really no further in solving this dichotomy.

We knew all along what they had to say, and by now, we probably instinctively know what it is we’re really confronting here.

We’re no further along today as a result of McKay’s sons’ testimony.


Bits at the end of a long, newsy week Part 1 — Phoenix

Screen Shot 2012-12-01 at 8.13.14 PMFrom the stunning turns of events in Boston and Texas to, locally, the provincial budget and the government’s plan to hike of the PST as of July, it’s been a hell of a week for news.

(Great blog on the budget here, BTW. h/t Cherenkov. I appreciate honesty too.)

But on top of emerging craziness, the Phoenix Sinclair Inquiry resumed witness testimony after several weeks off, partly due to the delay caused by perceptions of conflict.

And while the evidence heard this week was at times disturbing and concerning (Cpl. Rob Baker’s testimony, along Alison Kakewash’s hit me personally like a ton of bricks), I’ve been turning my mind more often lately to what Commissioner Hughes could be making of it all.

As we approach what’s sure to be the gloomy end of Phase 1 on Tuesday or Wednesday, it strikes me there are two nuts-and-bolts recommendations Hughes could make today to fulfil his mandate to help better protect Manitoba kids.


This been a frequent underlying issue at the hearings so far. An old Child and Family Services database (CFSIS) limping along. Lack of consistent Internet access for CFS agencies outside major centres. That lack of infrastructure leading to a ‘why bother’ kind of attitude from workers, leading, in turn, to a lack of due diligence in doing things like Prior Contact Checks — the very thing which could have “changed everything” in Phoenix’s case. I’m reasonably sure Hughes has turned his mind several times now to the technology issue. There’s no reason in this day and age all communities shouldn’t have proper access to the CFS computer system. We can put infrastructure in remote areas to ensure VLT/Casino data is accessed daily. Surely we can do the same for child-welfare services.

Last fall, the Auditor General specifically noted that the province has been slow to implement a number of key recommendations dating back to a 2006 CFS audit — and electronic case management and tracking was among them. So obviously the powers that be are aware of the problem.

The Auditor General noted a plan to completely replace the CFSIS system stalled in 2009 and by time of writing hadn’t had an update:

Screen Shot 2013-04-20 at 6.34.47 PM
(From Fall 2012 AG followup report)

Screen Shot 2013-04-20 at 6.35.06 PM

Inter-departmental and external agency information sharing

This is a fundamental issue. And when you have a veteran cop like Cpl. Baker saying sharing between various government agencies — such as CFS, Employment and Income Assistance, Health and police — could be better, it probably could be better.

Instead, we’ve heard several times now how people’s fears at violating privacy and health privacy legislation has led to slowdowns in the investigative process. Baker said RCMP, his police service, has no issues quickly sharing certain information with agencies conducting “like minded” investigations — but found when investigating Phoenix’s homicide there was pushback from CFS when he hoped to access sealed “child in care” files held by a CFS agency. Luckily, EI investigators were ready and willing to co-operate and set up the ultimate “sting” which exposed Kematch and McKay — and Phoenix’s death — nine months after it happened.

Workers investigating a child-protection case shouldn’t be hamstrung by having to invoke “magic words” to glean information quickly out of other agencies who may have valuable data, and vice versa. Any abuses could be ferreted out with a strong quality-assurance program. Information is like oxygen to investigators of all stripes. If we believe they are working towards valuable goals [like the safety of at-risk kids], they shouldn’t have to fight for information.

But it’s a contentious issue, for sure. Even police agencies can’t figure out a way to co-operate when it comes to data sharing, as this (to my mind, sad) report out of Alberta suggests.

Queensland, Australia child-welfare inquiry

Interesting (350-page) read below:

A massive child-welfare inquiry in Australia is about to wrap up with a final report from its commissioner by June, likely earlier. What’s relevant is how many issues there are echoed over here, particulary the concerning rise in the number of kids being taken into care, largely because of neglect, not abuse.

The website is a model for future inquiries, I feel. It’s easy to find the disclosure, they took it on themselves to live-stream it, and staff even communicate with the public via social media. As well, people are encouraged to participate by sending submissions to the commissioner.

While I’m not knocking the effort for Phoenix’s inquiry — communications staff have bent over backwards at times to ensure media have been given proper access — but perhaps a few more of the $9.6 million we’re currently spending could have gone into making the proceedings and website more accessible to the public, virtually all of whom can’t make it to take in the hearings during working hours.

The design is a bit dated — and it’s very difficult to navigate the disclosure which has been presented, unless you note page numbers as you go along.

Here’s the recent discussion paper from the Australian affair. I’d love to foster a discussion about it with readers, so chime in in the comments and we’ll make it happen somehow. Perhaps through a live blog of some kind.

[Part two of this post will look at a few other non-PSI things I dug up this week, including an interesting tale about the infamous Darrell Ackman, AKA Mr. JetzTV]


Late edit: I just wanted to point out some things which have been picking at me, relating to the internal CFS documents tabled at the inquiry.

Look closely at this, for one example:

Screen Shot 2013-04-20 at 8.05.15 PM

This was the file closing of Shelly Wiebe from December 2004.

Notice how her surname is typed one way — IE —

But her signature states it’s EI.

That’s odd, no? Who misspells their name in their signature?

Here’s another oddity, from this week’s report from Intertribal CFS.

Screen Shot 2013-04-20 at 8

Why is it that it’s the same report  — just one page apart (you can see the page break) — but the formatting in terms of spacing is so different? It’s weird.

There’s been a few other instances of documentary oddness. I’ll add them as I come across them.


Chris Campbell: Another tragic case of under-resourced mental health/criminal justice services?

Christoper Mackenzie Campbell
(Christoper Mackenzie Campbell/WPS)

While many facts remain yet to be proven or tested, it’s pretty clear something appears to have gone horribly wrong with Christopher Mackenzie Campbell.

Campbell, at age 42, currently stands accused in Winnipeg’s latest homicide — believed to be that of a relative, possibly his mother — in a home on Alexander Avenue this weekend.

It was a rare situation in which police believe Campbell left the city in a family vehicle which is linked to the victim, one located just outside of Regina on Sunday. Campbell made his way into that city and was taken into custody downtown.

He was to be returned to Winnipeg forthwith.

Court records show a charge of second-degree murder is pending. The victim’s identity, including her age, has not been released.

Police this weekend said the following in announcing they were looking for him:

“Campbell has been treated for a mental illness in the past.

Information has been received that he has not been taking his medications as required.

Caution should be used if approached by Campbell as his behaviour may be unpredictable and he may be violent.”

I fear Campbell’s case may end up being another of those sad ones which seem to crop up each and every year.

Those ones where justice system efforts to assist and supervise ultimately clash, fizzle or peter out due to the poor state of urgent mental-health related resources in Manitoba, a pressing topic I only recently wrote about.

In any event, some background:

An incident in summer 2008 ultimately seemed to force Campbell’s hand to seek out help for his issues.

His lawyer at the time called his arrest at that time “a blessing in disguise” as Campbell may not have been diagnosed or sought help if it hadn’t happened.

It was on July 6, 2008 that Campbell approached a total stranger — a landscaper from Shelmerdine garden centre — outside Campbell’s apartment block at 400 Assiniboine Avenue.

He walked up to the gardener and asked him not to use any “power equipment” on the lot — a request to which the victim says he must use a power blower to do his job.

“If you use any power equipment, I’m going to get a sniper rifle and shoot you in the head,” Campbell replied.

He also tossed the glass of water he was holding at the landscaper.

The bizarre threat was overheard by an independent witness.

Police are called, they arrive quickly. Campbell declines to speak with a lawyer while in their custody.

But in his time with police he makes several other concerning comments, including how the interviewing officers seem like “dolphins out of water,” that “he’s a nice guy, almost God-like” and that one officer’s badge number, “is similar to the Mayan’s calendar that adds three years.”

He pleads guilty to a count of uttering threats. An assault charge is stayed.

The Crown agrees to recommend a conditional discharge after learning Campbell — a father to two teenagers — took it upon himself to seek out mental-health help following his arrest.

At the time of his February 2009 sentencing, court was told he was under the care of a psychiatrist and occupational therapist at the HSC’s PsychHealth centre, having checked himself in there for a time.

He was diagnosed with what was described as “mild” schizophrenia.

“It turns out that his mother also has schizophrenia … so perhaps it’s hereditary,” Judge Marvin Garfinkel is told.

At the time, Campbell was unemployed, but volunteering at the HSC in its “spiritual assistance department.”

The former co-owner of the long-then-defunct Rogue’s Gallery on Assiniboine [less than a block from his home at the time] was due to have a first outpatient appointment at PsychHealth five days after his court date.

He was to see the psychiatrist and therapist bi-weekly.

Garfinkel ordered Campbell to serve a year of probation, with a central condition being for him to to comply with the treatment as directed by his doctor. That could include to take medication as directed, Garfinkel said.

Campbell readily agreed to follow the program and conditions the probation order set out for him.

“I’m here today of my own freewill, under your mercy,” Campbell told Garfinkel in a clear, unconfused voice.

“And I just wanted to say … I’ve witnessed for the first time now how the court system works, and, you’re offering a lot of grace today, and I just want to say, ‘thank you,’ for that.”

There are no breaches of the probation order recorded in the provincial court system — and Campbell had no apparent prior or proceeding record of involvement with the law.

From uttering threats to an allegation of murder. It’s absolutely tragic for everyone involved.

While our police have said little about their homicide case — which at first glance seems just a hair’s breadth from a domestic violence killing — They did make it clear Campbell appeared to be off his meds at the time.

It’s too early to make any observations of whether gaps between the justice and mental-health systems are in any way to be faulted or was a factor in the killing.

But the fact is, from early appearances of the case, Campbell was known to be a risk — and at risk — when not on his meds.

His probation was only one year long, so who knows how long he may have been off of them, or off of the radar of the system entirely.

Those answers may come in due course as Campbell’s latest interaction with the system plays out. He’s naturally presumed innocent of the charge he’s facing.

But after years of seeing eerily similar cases, my mind can’t help but wonder: Was this tragedy in any way preventable?

Was there something we as a society could have done to ensure it never happened?

Is under-resourced mental health care and supervision again the grey elephant in a gloomy room?

Stay tuned.


[Must read] Mental Health Commission of Canada: Mental Health and the Law

CMHA: Mental Health and the justice system in BC 

Stats Can: An investigation into data collection between Mental Health and Criminal Justice Systems

National Post: Mental Health system turning prisons into asylums

Manitoba Justice: Proof that the system works


(Winnipeg's Old Law Courts Building)
(Winnipeg’s Old Law Courts Building)

Good news stories out of Manitoba’s criminal courts can be few and far between, if media reports and public sentiment are any indication.

But it’s easy to lose sight sometimes that mixed in with all the misery and gloom — in fact, sometimes mixed directly in the midst of it — there’s proof that our court system is not only functioning, but working well.

Last week’s trial of Adelord Campbell is proof. (Articles from days one and two are here and here)

Let me explain.

Campbell, a repeat violent offender with an apparently awful drinking problem which fuels his criminality, isn’t the type to garner much sympathy from the public. He readily admitted last week he has a lengthy criminal record littered with violent acts.

Also, on the day he was arrested for the matter which brought him in front of Judge John Guy, he fully concedes he picked up an $80 welfare cheque after waking up late in the afternoon at a shelter last July 13, cashed it, and went out bar hopping along Main Street, despite being on probation.

Drinking a few here, a few there until he found himself in cuffs near the entrance to the Northern Hotel at Jarvis and Main.

Most people would see a character like Campbell coming towards them, turn the other way and probably run.

But, as the point of this is, that matters little when it comes to his case — one where it became pretty apparent pretty quickly there was (cough) reasonable doubt when the conduct of his accusers were put under the microscope.

I won’t relay the full facts of the 1.5 days of evidence here, but needless to say, there was a ring of some truth to his story of self defence; that he was in fact, the victim of a group who may have seen him flash some cash and pulled a meat cleaver on him in an effort to rob him — a bid which turned sour after the alleged main aggressor dropped the weapon and allowed Campbell to attempt to ward off their unwanted advances after he snatched it up.

When the cops showed up, all they saw was Campbell waving a cleaver around in a dangerous fashion with the three ‘victims’ backed up against the wall. Cops didn’t ask too many questions — quite possibly because one of the three didn’t want to stick around to give a formal statement. Also, Campbell was in no state to try and explain what he believed happened.

Anyohow: the real story here is that Campbell — again, the description ‘low-life’ comes to mind — got a full and vigorous defence as advanced by defence lawyer Sarah Murdoch, an up-and-coming litigator who’s fairly new on the scene.

Murdoch’s defence of Campbell was laudable in many respects — not least of which was the fact she was ultra-professional and clearly well-prepared to advance a believable alternate theory of the case, as well as unafraid to go after those testifying when their answers were unclear or had a ring of convenience.

On the other side of the courtroom was Crown Attorney Cindy Sholdice, a veteran Manitoba Justice prosecutor responsible for putting some of Manitoba’s most heinous criminals behind bars — sometimes for good.

Also coming across as polished and prepared, Sholdice’s presentation of the Crown’s case against Campbell most importantly appeared exactly as all public prosecutions should: Unscrupulously fair.

I’ll give you an example: A key piece of evidence in the case was a 911 call made as the fracas between Campbell and the trio broke out. Made by an independent caller, it cast great doubt that Campbell was the aggressor.

Now, Sholdice could have made a pre-trial motion to have the 911 call thrown out, possibly for lack of reliability or as hearsay evidence. Instead, she fully conceded Campbell should be able to present the call to the court for fairness’ sake.

In the middle of it all was Judge Guy, who’s known to be a no-nonsense type when it comes to handing down sentences on convicted criminals. Watching him throughout the two-day trial, Guy was attentive, dealt with issues in a common-sense way and ultimately delivered a fair verdict: Not guilty on two of the questionable assault with weapon counts, but guilty on one where Campbell clearly crossed the line by punching a woman much smaller than him.

In his decision, delivered swiftly, Guy didn’t directly deal with the issue of who provoked who, but it seemed apparent he was left in doubt about who was telling the truth.  Convicting Campbell for using excessive force in punching the woman was entirely reasonable in the circumstances.

All of this is just a long way of saying this: If people like Adelord Campbell are seen to get a fair shake, then the courts system is clearly doing something right. 

All of this is also aside from the fact there were no great delays in having Campbell’s matter tried — no prelim to slow the pace of resolution down nor a slew of pre-trial motions.

I’ll take good news where I can get it.


A further example of youth jails as child-welfare warehouses, or the girl who became a hot potato PART II

Screen Shot 2013-03-27 at 10.56.14 PM “It’s not recommended. It’s not a polite term. It’s not a recommendation —  It’s an order!” — Provincial Court Judge Marvin Garfinkel

Last Thursday, I wrote about this girl (do read before continuing further) — who’s being held at the Manitoba Youth Centre because no suitable Child and Family Services placement can be found for her.

This, despite the fact Canada’s youth justice laws prohibit young people being detained for child-welfare concerns. The girl isn’t an ordinary case. She requires a specialized placement because of her behavioural and other issues.

Again, she’s just 13 and a permanent ward of CFS.

A few readers contacted me via email and other means to express their concern and, in some cases, disgust, that this was happening.

The case, as the previous post made clear, drew Judge Marvin Garfinkel’s ire, largely because it was clear the powers that be in the CFS or justice system were either unable or unwilling to follow a court’s order regarding her placement, one issued months ago.

Her probation order specifically prohibits her from being placed in a hotel room by CFS or any other agency.

But yet, one of the reasons she was back in custody at a jail is because she was placed in a hotel room after the probation order — a legal document setting out supervision requirements as determined by a judge, not CFS or the province — was issued.

[More on this below. However, note carefully the bolded section of the Crown’s statement to the court].

Thursday, her regular lawyer isn’t in court, but an experienced associate of his is.

Garfinkel, sitting again, is told the two advocates spent the afternoon Wednesday working on a motion which was prepped and ready to file — ostensibly trying to get the ‘provincial director’ to act — and more discussion with Crown.

Also in court this day are a lawyer for the Island Lake CFS agency and a worker, and also a representative from Winnipeg’s B&L Resources for Children, Youth and Families.

There’s still no placement for her, Garfinkel is told.

Still, the Crown is ready to consent to her release.

Garfinkel is told the agency has made attempts, but there is no placement — they are looking into a number of issues.

But, there’s no grounds to keep her in custody as far as I’m concerned, her defence lawyer says.

The lawyer for CFS then steps to the podium and fills the judge in on what’s now happening.

Here’s the bulk of the exchange, verbatim.

CFS Lawyer (CFS): The agency has been working quite a bit on trying to find a suitable placement for [girl] — obviously there’s some high needs involved here.

Garfinkel: Is the child for whom there is an existing order of judge Harvie?

CFS: Yes. I’ll just give Your Honour some more background.

Garfinkel: I recall this.

CFS: This was the matter where Judge Harvie ordered there was to be no placement in a hotel room.

Garfinkel: Yes.

CFS: And you brought to [Lawyer’s] attention. Just so your honour knows the full story, [The defence lawyer] also spoke with … the provincial director yesterday, and brought this to his attention and he’s working to find a placement as well — he’s now aware that she’s not to be placed in a hotel. We also spoke with Corey La Berge from the Child Advocate’s office and [the office] has a worker assigned … and Mr. La Berge is making attempts to assist with a placement at well.

[The worker] has thoroughly exhausted institutional placements. All of them advise that either they don’t have room or they’ll be able to meet her criteria. However, As indicated, there is a case manager here from B&L and a possible foster placement. I’ve been speaking with them this morning. It is anticipated a timeline of about a week to transition [the girl] to that home should that be a suitable placement. It sounds like a good plan is in place there. Of course, the issue we’re faced with today is [the girl’s] imminent release today. [Another person] has made some inquiries to [a program], which is also a placement — they advise they have a place available but they’re, as we speak, reviewing [the girl’s] application, which I should point out was actually made a couple of months ago and no response was ever received from them. So they are re-reviewing that to determine if that spot can be taken by [the girl]. And we are also waiting back to hear if any possible Places of Safety can possibly take her today.

Obviously we don’t want her to remain in custody anymore than anybody else. At the same time, we want to make sure she has a suitable placement to go to. So that is where we are today. My hope is that we can find at least a temporary placement as soon as possible today so that she can then be transitioned into the other home.

Garfinkel: OK. Thank you for your comments.

Crown: With respect to the matter on the docket … it involves three counts from a date of Jan. 24th of this year [assault with weapon and two breaches]. The Crown will be entering a stay of proceedings. It’s because of what’s already been touched upon by my learned friend. The order of Judge Harvie specifically stated that a residence was supposed to be found and not a hotel placement. This incident occurred while [the girl] was a resident at [a downtown hotel]. After my read of the file yesterday, based on that fact alone, I decided that a stay of proceedings will be entered on that matter. And for that reason.

They then proceed with a consent release hearing — she’s officially ordered freed on an undertaking. The undertaking says she must reside as directed by CFS but not be a hotel placement [but the probation order indicates it’s the provincial director’s responsibility].

Garfinkel: I want to thank you all for coming.

Yesterday, we were a little disturbed by circumstances that existed. Quite candidly we didn’t have the information that we have now. And I think you have to remember that this facility is a criminal justice facility. It no longer is a place of shelter under the old Child Welfare Act and the Juvenile Delinquent’s Act. Parliament has made a clear-cut distinction between criminal proceedings and child-protection proceedings. Now, many times, the people involved have both child-protection issues and criminal justice issues. But we have to try and delineate what’s what and what’s what. In this instance, we have this young person accused of committing crimes. She is absolutely presumed to be innocent. She is not to be detained unless the Crown can show cause why detention is necessary. Moreover — she is bound by a probation order which requires her to reside in a certain place. That place is a positive with a negative attachment.

The positive is: she is to reside where directed by the provincial director. The provincial director is a criminal justice official whose office is created by federal legislation. The negative is, that place of residence is not to be a hotel. If she doesn’t like that order, she can instruct her lawyer to appeal it. But until it’s appealed — that order is valid and it must be complied with. None of you here, as I understand it, are representing the provincial director. But each of you may have some conversation with a provincial director and should tell that official that you’re now aware of the order. And the provincial director shouldn’t try to convince you or persuade you to disobey the order …

Defence lawyer: The no-hotel clause came from a [forensic psychologist] as part of a forensic assessment.

Garfinkel: I’m not arguing. Judge Harvie put it into the order. It’s a valid order until it’s repealed or reversed. It must be … if I — let’s say I wanted to do something silly, like say, ‘all of you are in contempt, you’re going to jail,’ – You go to jail. The Sheriff’s officers will physically take you there until the order has changed. 

Lawyer: I just want to make it clear to the agency that that’s not likely to change — even if it comes before a judge because it’s been recommended, it’s be ordered. ..

Garfinkel: It’s not recommended. It’s not a polite term. It’s not a recommendation — [bangs fist down] It’s an order. It’s terrible! (obviously referring to how the probation order hasn’t been obeyed). 

Lawyer: … I’m just saying if anybody thinks there’s going to be a variation to the probation order, everybody needs to keep in mind that there were very good reasons for Judge Harvie ordering that. And it’s not likely that she would change that is what I’m saying.


So there you have it. For weeks, this girl has been languishing in jail, and suddenly, everyone’s now on board trying to find a solution.

I can’t speak to what caused the dramatic turnaround in attention the girl’s case suddenly received, but it’s heartening to see.

That said, it was clear her ethically and legally-questionable jail stint wasn’t likely coming to a quick end at the end of Thursday’s hearing. Efforts were being made, but no placement was available yet.

Now, what I hadn’t realized when I wrote the original piece about this case was that she was in jail partly because of breaches and other charges stemming from an illegal placement in a hotel room taking place more than a month after Judge Harvie’s original order forbid the provincial director (and by virtue of the order, CFS) from placing her in a hotel.

Nothing’s perfect in this world. I get it. And I suspect that the high needs of the girl’s case played a major role in CFS or the provincial director just trying to find her somewhere to stay in the interim.

But the fact is, this case sends a number of concerning messages to the general public.

Not least of those being: If the powers in place to enforce court orders can’t or won’t obey them for whatever reason, then how can we expect anyone else — like offenders — to follow them either?

It’s a black mark on the administration of justice, in my view.

The courts and offenders often wear blame directed at them from the public and the media when people placed on probation reoffend.

I think it’s clear from this one small case that the blame may lie elsewhere, sometimes.

And, more troubling: the above shows how for some of Manitoba’s roughly 10,000 kids in the care of the state, it’s not all that difficult to fall into black holes not of their making.


Earned Parole: its time is now

prison“… The typical offender tends to have a history of substance abuse, a previous criminal history, a previous negative correctional history (escape, segregation, revocation of parole), low program completion rates and higher levels of imposed residency conditions at release.”  — Correctional Service of Canada on Earned Parole

I’ve said it before, and I’m sure it won’t be the last time I will.

If governments are really going to take a meaningful “tough on crime” stance while portraying themselves in the virtuous light as true defenders of victims, they would do well to do one thing to back up their rhetoric.

(And it isn’t by increasing the use of absurd mandatory minimum sentences.)

Government must: do away with statutory release policy which frees violent offenders (other than lifers or ones declared dangerous offenders) after two-thirds of their sentences and move instead to an “earned parole” system where an offender must prove his or her early release is justified.

I was given another great example why this is necessary today in a sit-down with Floyd Wiebe, who’s son, TJ, was murdered in 2003 through a truly ugly and feckless conspiracy amongst three (really four or even five, people) — and his body dumped in a field outside the city.

It was a conspiracy which Dominic Urichen, now 29, played a key role in.  He was arrested in 2003 and convicted in 2006. He’s been in institutions since his arrest.

Next week, Urichen will receive statutory release now that he’s served the required 2/3 of his time.

The thing is, he’s done virtually no programming or job training while in custody. Yet Urichen gets out early.

Despite the fact psychologists and the parole board believe he’s a very high risk to reoffend violently, Urichen gets a taste of freedom.

And despite the fact he’s painted by the parole board  as essentially remorseless for what he did (Wiebe tells me Urichen sullenly once told a parole adjudication panel he didn’t even know why he was in prison in the first place), he’s getting out.

Admittedly, his freedom isn’t unfettered. To remain in the community, Urichen, who is clearly mentally ill but denies it, must abide by a number of conditions. They include keeping a curfew at the BC halfway house where he’ll live until his sentence fully expires, keeping up with psych therapy and staying away from drugs, booze and negative peers.

But drilling into the parole board documents on Urichen which reference psychological reports on his case, I realized his was one of the worst I’ve seen yet. In my view, he’s a ticking time bomb. The parole board admits as much in their decision to restrict his movements, they just don’t explicitly say it.  (full decision can be found here)

Here’s just a few reasons why:

  • “Indifferent” attitude towards his victim and “minimal remorse”
  • Struggles to interact with others, which leads to conflicts
  • Limited impulse control
  • Episodes of “delusional paranoid thinking”
  • Denial of mental health issues (he’s been diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic/antisocial personality disorder)
  • Substance abuse issues (was caught with drugs in jail)
  • Never had a real job, sold drugs for money in the past
  • Has “persecutory ideas”
  • Has “command hallucinations” to “stab others”
  • Was hospitalized four times at a prison psych hospital
  • No solid understanding of his offence cycle or how his risk can be managed
  • While in custody took a total of two — two — programs: one for healthy living in prison, another for substance abuse
  • Limited education, no upgrades completed in custody

“You have been incarcerated for many years and the contributing factors to your offending are still outstanding, suggesting that you will easily engage in drug use and association with negative peers leading to a deterioration of your mental health, significantly increasing the risk you pose. You have had a very limited exposure to a pro-social life in the past … this leads the board to conclude you will face significant stressors in the community.”

So, based on the above, what can society expect from Mr. Urichen and his new-found freedom? Not much I’d surmise.

But, he’s getting out next week to try and start fresh, get his life off the ground.

He’s had years now to wait for this day. Prison must have been hellish for him. I mean that sincerely.

But the fact is, there’s no way he should be qualifying for early release.

He should have had to earn it through taking measured programming and skills training.

If he won’t participate, then no early release. Simple.

And not because he should be punished more for his crime — but because by not having him do it simply basically ensures he’s going to be entrenched in the crime cycle and punted back in custody yet again at some point.

And that’s not supposed to be the major goal of our justice system in Canada.

Equally important, statutory release sends completely the wrong message to offenders and their victims.

Rewards should not be handed out when nothing’s been done to earn them.

The following is from a 2010 CSC review panel report examining the earned parole issue. Full report is here.

Gradual release of offenders has been a cornerstone of Canadian corrections for many years and the Panel supports that concept. However, the Panel believes that statutory release and accelerated parole have both undermined discretionary release and generally have not proved as effective as discretionary release in mitigating violent reoffending. The Panel believes that an arbitrary release that is not based on rehabilitation is counterproductive, and when aggravated by shorter sentences, reduces public safety. This has been demonstrated by the fact that most violent reoffending by federal offenders is committed by those released on statutory release. To improve public safety and reorient the correctional system to a system that places true accountability on offenders, offenders would be required to earn their way back to their home communities and demonstrate to the NPB that they have changed and are capable of living as law-abiding citizens.

We also must not forget that in Manitoba, provincial inmates qualify for an automatic 1/3 discount off the sentence they’re handed. So the above could also very well apply here as well. Offer more skills training and education in jails. If inmates don’t do the programming, no sentence discount.


‘I am not happy’ — a veteran Judge reflects on the state of courtroom 308

(Winnipeg Law Courts/Winnipeg Sun File)
(Winnipeg Law Courts/Winnipeg Sun File)

Are lawyers disrespecting Manitoba’s provincial court?

It’s a question posed today by a frustrated veteran judge, Marvin Garfinkel (appointed in December 1979) as he juggled cases in Courtroom 308 at the law courts complex downtown.

Room 308 is designated as a sentencing or plea-entry court to deal with “summary conviction” criminal matters — matters which aren’t generally complex or overly serious.

It also handles items like motions and bail variations and people who are unrepresented and want to get their cases over with.

It sits each morning and afternoon of the working week except Fridays.

It’s a busy, but smaller room, one that’s hard for the public to find a seat in. It is generally standing-room-only for lawyers from both sides of the Crown-defence divide.

Matters are slotted onto a list and estimates for how long they may take to hear are provided. But, as is often said, the wheels of justice turn slowly — things often take longer to be heard then expected. Questions needing answers arise. Bringing in-custosy accused people into the room from lockup takes time.

In the glacial-paced world which is already Manitoba court system, 15 minutes turns into 30 real quick. And in my view, that’s probably for the best. Rushed, drive-through justice is probably not much better or helpful to society than no justice at all.

Lately, however, the dockets in 308 have been plagued by last-minute add ons and transfers from other courtrooms.

What was once meant as a courtroom to hear motions morphed into a well-intentioned experiment in “summary” dispositions to reduce court backlog — and the demand is now clearly outpacing resources.

Garfinkel today was clearly nonplussed at the state of today’s 308, and refused to hear a couple of cases because they were either not on the official list nor expected to appear that day.

Several times in the afternoon, he made comments about the length of time cases went over the estimated time of hearing as advanced by the lawyers involved.

And, probably rightly, he wondered if similar situations would unfold in the Court of Appeal or Court of Queen’s Bench, the higher levels of court in the province — but due the same respect any court of law requires.

The answer – I think he knew this — is, of course, it wouldn’t be allowed in QB and the appeals court.

This isn’t to say I believe the lawyers are intentionally being disrespectful, but there’s an amount of ‘wiggle room’ at the provincial court level which clearly is being exploited.

Here’s Garfinkel’s own words on the subject, for the record.

“I’m not dealing with this matter,” he told one younger defence lawyer.

“This matter is not on the list and I’m not going to deal with it. It’s not part of this court hearing this afternoon. And I’m glad you raised this now because it gives me the opportunity to vent.

The provincial court is the only court that does not control the length of its docket. I don’t know how this list [shakes it] got to be generated but certainly the judges and the staff of the court did not prepare that list.

If you go into the Court of Appeal on a sentence appeal, there are only four sentence appeals allowed in a half-day. The Court of Appeal staff controls its list and docket.

The provincial court is treated by counsel differently than it treats the Court of Appeal and the Court of Queen’s Bench. And counsel add matters that the court has no control over. We are not dealing with [accused] today – because he’s not on the list.

And I will also add that many of these items on the list have times shown — those times are estimates by counsel of how long the matter will take. As just shown from the first matter we dealt with [Set for 15 mins, but lasted 32] Counsel are frequently wrong in their time estimate.

This court came into being because the judges wanted to deal with motions by counsel. We as judges found that we weren’t getting motions from counsel. Counsel preferred to deal with motions in a different fashion.

So we said, ‘OK — we’ll take un-represented matters from 301 and 302,’ and we found that that didn’t work. And so we said, OK — counsel could put matters into the court. But we never put a cap on it, thinking that counsel would be intelligent enough to know how manny matters can be dealt with in a half day.

In the Court of Appeal, the example given is four matters in a half day, not taking into account transfers from 301 and 302.

I’m not dealing with this matter because it’s not on the list. I don’t know how it got added to the docket. You can put it to whatever courtroom that you like — but I’m not dealing with it today for the reasons stated.

We still have I don’t know how many matters to go — and I’ll venture to guess none of the time limits shown will be followed.”


(Garfinkel sounded like he was pre-explosion after the final matter came on the docket and his lawyer wasn’t in the room to handle it:)

“How do you have a lawyer put something on a list and then not show up? Would [the lawyer] do that in the Court of Appeal? Would he do that in the Court of Queen’s Bench? Then why do it in the provincial court? Are counsel treating the Court of Appeal differently than it treats provincial court of Manitoba and if so, why?

Just because we’re the lowest court on the hierarchy doesn’t mean we should be treated with disdain. I’m not being critical of you [he tells the Crown] but I appreciate you giving me the opportunity to vent. Why are we doing this?”

[Get a message to the other lawyer, he tells the Crown, and let him know his client is here.]

“I am not happy,” Garfinkel said.

The  duty Crown in attendance tried to explain how the estimations are arrived at, that often they add minutes to the estimates to try and account for extra time just in case it’s needed.

“You can convey the message to the lawyers in your department. That I am not happy with this whole system in 308. It’s not working the way the judges want it to work and we … as the judges are going to have to sit down and talk about it. And we will.

“And if you want to get in some points of view and opinions, you better tell your supervisor to get that information into the chief judge quickly.”

“Yes your honour,” the Crown replies.

A meeting of provincial court judges is coming up in May, Garfinkel says.


“There is no damned degree that will ever teach you humanity.” A dialogue on CFS

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People. From all walks of life. In one room. Talking about Child and Family Services in Manitoba.

Setting aside the fact Sunday’s meeting of minds at the River Heights Community Centre was sponsored by Manitoba Liberal Leader Dr. Jon Gerrard — he’s been one of the NDP government’s harshest critics on the CFS portfolio — I couldn’t help but be struck by the event just because it was happening at all.

Again: People. From all walks of life. In a room. Talking about CFS in Manitoba.

No intervening high-minded lawyers, no awful tragic child’s death anchoring it all and (virtually) no ranting and raving, or for that matter, much finger-pointing.

If there were one thing I could say I took away from the discussion (aside from the oddity that people rationally discussing a very live and vital issue in our society is somehow a marvel to behold), it would be this: People — the average Joe and Jane citizen — feel completely in the dark about CFS, how it works and what it does. But they care. 

To many, it’s a gigantic government machine — “the feared child police” — which operates largely in secret and appears completely unaccountable for the decisions it makes — and that it make decisions about the lives of others which don’t appear to be working in a long-term sense. It bears remembering that many people touched by CFS aren’t the most sophisticated to start with.

Navigating complex legal and bureaucratic systems, for them, is unthinkable. And there’s not a whole host of advocacy routes to travel.

But let’s face facts: We have a terrible problem in Manitoba.

There’s an overwhelming number of kids in CFS care (many, if not most, aboriginal) and most they’re there not because of “abuse” — a nebulous and shifty term as set out in the CFS Act — but because of parental neglect.

No food in the fridge, mom and or dad or both drinking or splitting up, a shaky housing situation. These are just some of the instances of neglect which could move CFS to pull a child from his or her family and into care, and the parental issue triggering the apprehension may or may not get attended to.

It can’t be overstated: pulling a child from its family is no small thing. The aftershocks of that broken bond could last an entire lifetime. We have evidence in droves, including that unearthed by a years-long public inquiry, that the foster care and child-welfare systems is a feeder for youth jails, addictions and gang-involvement and, later, adult prisons.

[Two quick, but admittedly extreme examples: A 19-year-old man who lit a guy on fire in the north end and killed him? He had nearly 20 different foster placements in his short lifetime. Another man, who torched his Sherbrook Street apartment block around Christmas — he had 36 different CFS placements as a youth. The mass rejection a developing mind would feel from the constant shakeups is staggering.]

So, what do we do? Blaming the government won’t help. Blaming social workers won’t help.

But being given information and ideas to contemplate and question the status quo is a start.

And that’s what we should be doing.

Sunday’s meeting was an excellent example of this.

There were five speakers, and I’ll summarize a few of their views [as I understood them], briefly. This is not exhaustive.

First was Bernice Cyr, executive director of the Native Women’s Transition Centre and former CEO of Metis Child and Family Services.

Cyr spoke of several key areas, including the problem the system has in terms of dealing with the competing concepts of ‘safety’ and ‘risk’ assessments.

While it’s pretty apparent what constitutes ‘safety,’ for kids — the concept of ‘risk’ (in the long-term sense) to a child is one that’s harder to get a grasp on. Because of new risk-assessment tools used by CFS (the Structured Decision Making computer risk evaluation, sarcastically dubbed the “cover your ass tool” by some), Cyr suggested that long-term risk can’t be addressed through apprehension of kids into care (because of the later “desperate outcomes” many of them encounter in other systems: health, criminal justice) and advocated for a greater use of what she described as “safety networks” for families in crisis.

Ultimately, Cyr believes child-welfare is a public concern to be addressed by the community/public agencies as a whole and not simply left to the ‘system’ to deal with in isolation.

Key point: in northern isolated communities, CFS is often the only resource available. The presence of health and other agencies can be skimpy or non-existent to meet people’s basic needs and protection centres for kids aren’t there, but CFS is, so a lot of burden is placed on the system.

Cyr also said the definition of ‘abuse’ in the CFS Act needs to be narrowed because it prevents social workers from developing more progressive practice habits. She also called for the expansion of the mandate of the Children’s Advocate office and the redirection of already-existing funding for family support interventions.

Next — and most interesting to me — was Lore Mirwaldt, a child protection and family support lawyer who practices up north.

In frank terms, she argued the CFS system as exists today is one that’s been thrust into isolation because of legislation and a hierarchical management/government system which operates in “crisis management” mode brought on by fear of making mistakes which become public controversies (Phoenix, Gage Guimond etc.).

“The name of the game is, ‘keep your cases off the front page of the Winnipeg Free Press,'” Mirwaldt said.

She took the 40 or so people gathered through the genesis of the so-called ‘devolution’ of the system as advanced by the AJI in 1991 and talked in depth about the problems which came out of the so-called “master agreement” the province signed with aboriginal leaders in 2000. While the principles of the agreement were to be lauded, Mirwaldt suggested the implementation was where it all went awry. As a result, the CFS system continues to wrestle with the problems that arose from the transfer of cases to aboriginal-run agencies years after the May 2005 ‘go-live’ of the new system.

“The problem is the government lost its nerve — they got scared,” she said. “They didn’t want to see any more dead children.”

In the north, some social workers handle astronomical caseloads of 70, whereas the recommended maximum caseloads are about a third of that.

As for the SDM tool, the standardized risk assessment questions (often called ‘probability of future harm’) that social workers must use in a case are often biased against northern kids, where ‘risk’ can be determined by the lack of a community store or other resources. Northern kids routinely come out of the computer-generated tool as “medium to high risk” and the solution for the worker is to apprehend, Mirwaldt said.

Overwhelmed by the soaring caseloads, workers on the Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation were encouraged by the director of their agency to “think outside the box.”

So they did, by moving to a philosophy Mirwald, tongue in cheek, called “apprehend the parent.” Through a band resolution passed by the NCN chief and council, parents who were creating unsafe atmospheres for their kids were removed from homes (remember, its the band who owns the property) and replaced by grandmothers and other appropriate caregivers to look after the kids. When parents protested, they were told to go work on their issues before they could return.

Most parents “eventually see the light,” she said, prompting the CFS agency to implement supervision orders to reunite the families with conditions.

The child stays in the home with relatives and is safe. The parent deals with the presenting problem or can’t return.

As a result of this “circle of care” strategy, Mirwald said Child Protection dockets in Thompson court have shrunk from 70 cases to as low as 22.

The problem is, she says, “bean counters” at CFS don’t know how to pay for the increase in in-home supports.

In the question/answer portion towards the end, Mirwaldt made an interesting point: Our priorities seem out of whack when a child can die in care and nobody gets fired, but if it was questionable spending a person is caught doing, they’d likely be turfed in a heartbeat.

She also said a worry is that declining caseloads will trigger a funding issue.

“We’re really afraid we’re going to lose our funding because our numbers are down,” she said.

Next to speak (and the last I’ll discuss in this post) was Bertha Traverse, a member of Little Saskatchewan First Nation and former long-term child welfare worker who specialized in working with at-risk youth.

She’s a staunch advocate of finding means to prevent apprehensions.

“Apprehension doesn’t work,” she said. “The bond that you have with family is broken the minute you’re taken out of your home — it’s irreparable,” she said.

Traverse spoke in scenes of realism — pointing out how on the 4th floor of the law courts building in Winnipeg, outside room 410 (where child-protection docket court is held), the vast majority of people there are aboriginal young mothers.

She also talked of how the government’s standards for social workers’ educations don’t always mean the workers are invested in the work.

There is no damned degree that will ever teach you humanity,” she said.

Speaking of humanity, several in the audience offered insight into their personal predicaments and thoughts on the CFS system as a whole.

One of the most touching moments came from the undertaker who buried Gage Guimond.

He seemed to be questioning the entire philosophy of the social-welfare system and wondered what role “corruption” [his word] played in our society being unable to find solutions.

“The more you keep people poor, the more you keep them just running — the worse problems you have,” he said.

Another man spoke of the fear people have of CFS, and called for more advocacy resources for people to be able to navigate the system.

But it was one woman — an adoptee — who really gave me pause.

What the real problem is, she says, is how society has changed so much from when she was a child, when she would walk home from school and people would inquire of her if they hadn’t seen her sister or father that day.

We don’t look out for each other or even know each other any more, she said.

If we simply stuck together more, paid attention and cared, we’d be able to find solutions for the long-term benefit.

Maybe she’s right. But the cynic in me says we’ve come too far afield now to get back there.

I stand to be corrected, because ideally, I think she’s probably bang-on in her assessment.


Evan Maud: ‘The million question kid’

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Cops are hard on people like me and my friends‘ — Evan Maud, Nov. 13, 2012

Who is Evan Michelle Maud?

And why would he lie about Winnipeg police taking him on a so-called ‘starlight tour’ in late 2010 only to be snared in a web of embarrassing lies which police utterly ripped apart in short order thanks to GPS, surveillance cameras and other investigative means?

I can’t answer that. What I can tell you is a little more about Mr. Maud, his upbringing and background, which may help those interested come to understand a little more about the 22-year-old and his circumstances. Many people still clearly have questions.

At his last public appearance to apologize for bringing the false claims against the police, Maud didn’t take any questions.

Instead he was ushered out of the room after reading a three-minute long statement (below) which didn’t actually say, ‘I lied.’

Many hearing the statement questioned Maud’s sincerity given the ‘mea culpa’ was apparently key to the public mischief charge he was facing being dropped.

‘Restorative justice in action’ was how it was essentially sold to the public/media by Onashowewin, a Manitoba aboriginal justice agency for which I have a great respect for with respect to their work on private Gladue pre-sentencing reports often tabled in court.

Maud was also the subject of a PSR with a Gladue component — this one authored by a Manitoba Corrections officer. But it wasn’t relating to the ‘starlight tour’ hijinks. It was instead written to inform the judge who handled his January sentencing for attacking an innocent man after being punted from a party in the North End on his 21st birthday in November 2011.

(Without going off on a tangent, it appears one of the concerns about the adequacy of Corrections Gladue reports raised by the Manitoba Court of Appeal late last year has been addressed.)

The report tabled concerning Mr. Maud, compiled by a probation officer in the aptly-named Corrections Random Assault Unit — was thorough, lengthy and detailed and involved interviews with several people who’ve known him his entire life.

The bulk of what’s in it is presented below.

Maud’s Dad:

A life-long member and resident of the Cross Lake First Nation, Maud’s father, 59, is a community councillor and support worker who spent 15 years in residential schools as there were no other schooling options in the community in his youth.

He went on to leave the community briefly to study at university in Brandon. Cross Lake, population roughly 7,000, is a community which continues to feel the pain of the residential schools legacy.

Today, Maud’s dad says, there are few options for folks to make a way for themselves.

“There are widespread issues of drug and alcohol abuse, domestic violence, suicide, vandalism and other types of crime,” he told the PO.

Maud’s Mom:

Hailing from Skownan First Nation north of Winnipeg, the 51-year-old has lived away from her home community for most of her life, returning frequently there to visit relatives.

“(Her) family comes from a long line of very traditional people who have continued to practice indigenous styles of healthy living, sustenance, spirituality and preservation of their heritage and language.”

Like Cross Lake, however, the shadow of Rez schools has led the community and its people down the sad path of years of poverty, drug and booze issues, domestic violence, suicide and a lack of community services, the report says.

In 1996 — an unspecified standoff left the community “torn apart” and left a trail of family breakdowns and migration away for security and safety reasons.

“Homes were looted and burned to the ground and many people never returned.”

Since then, Skownan has rebuilt and a sense of habitat returned. A gaming centre has brought jobs and a construction company and business centre have become local sources of pride, the report suggests.

Maud’s early years through his troubled teens: 

Born in Thompson to his parents, the couple’s relationship didn’t last and they lived apart during their brief time together. Although Maud’s mom was his primary caregiver, he did spend time with his father over the years and the two have grown close.

He has a half-sister and three half-brothers. Maud as a child, according to his dad, was “very independent, curious and quiet.”

“(Dad) also noted that his son clearly understood the difference between right and wrong and would spend a great deal of time asking questions and trying to figure things out on his own.”

Curiously, Maud was made to feel unwelcome by Cross Lake band members.

His mom says Maud was a “difficult son to manage.”

“She indicated she felt he acted up on purpose to get attention.”

In an emotional interview with the probation officer/report writer, Maud’s mom described her parenting skills as wanting and that she did to her kids “what was done to me.”

In his youth, Maud suffered through an abusive relationship his mom undertook and was made victim of physical and sexual abuse, the report says. Mom describes his upbringing as a “rough childhood.”

“She worried about her son as her was very accident prone, acting out first, suffering through consequences after and he experienced numerous injuries as a child.”

Mom was a rover, taking Maud and his step-sister from home to home and school to school across three provinces in his youth. As of late 2012, she has been 25 years sober.

A cousin who now lives in Toronto recalled how Maud “was a curious child, very sociable, outgoing, liked to make up stories and was always asking questions.”

The sister dubbed Maud “the million question kid,” saying he was curious, liked reading and “asked too many questions.”

“She believed her brother began to get into trouble after she left home, was influenced by other teenagers and got caught up in marijuana and alcohol.”

He was no stranger to bullying — brought about because he wore his hair long.

By 13, Maud was experimenting with weed and mushrooms. By 15, he was drinking. At 16 he fell into the clutches of an unnamed gang but fought his way out of it the following year.

By Grade 9, Maud was suspended from school — but returned in 2011 to get his GED. In this time, he was living with the cousin, who says he fell into a bad crowd who “pressured him into drinking or took advantage of his good nature.”

“She indicated she believes (Maud) has never really experienced stability in his life, lacked parental support and guidance.”

Today, Maud avoids people from his past, the report noted him as saying. He keeps counsel with one close friend who has no criminal background.

“(Maud) indicated he could not open up to new people easily, and did not like to discuss his past, so making positive friends was difficult.”

He prefers the company of his sister and a girlfriend who describes him as “calm” but worries about his habit of “internalizing everything.”

The girlfriend says he worries about having no job. Maud successfully completed a welding certificate course and had been actively seeking work at the time.

“She commented the subject is trying to make positive changes, find employment and goes for long walks when he is feeling down and needs to clear his head.”

Drinking, she says, is forbidden in her home.

MAUD, in his own (slightly mediated) words:

Calm and quiet in his interview with the PO, Maud says the assault he inflicted on the landlord in Nov. 2011 was “all a blur” because he was so drunk at the time. This admission caused the officer to note he seemed to be “deflecting” the blame for what happened.

“(He) went on to say he believes others judge him unfairly based on his actions, make it sound like he is a bad person for something he doesn’t remember and do not know the real person he believes himself to be … (saying) “Cops are hard on people like me and my friends.”

While he was clear he didn’t want to go to jail, Maud indicated he would do whatever the court wished of him.

He’s never been diagnosed with any mental illness or antisocial disorder.

“He indicated he has low motivation and stays at home so much it feels like a dungeon.”

Of concern to the PO was how Maud displayed no apparent empathy or remorse for the man he attacked.

The officer ranked Maud — using a standardized case-management risk assessment tool — as a high risk to reoffend but concluded he was a suitable candidate for community supervision.


Maud didn’t take questions after issuing his apology to the police and public for the ‘starlight tour’ allegations — delivered through the media who turned up to hear it.

Instead, he was quickly shuffled out of the room and we’ve heard nothing from him since.

I haven’t checked if the public mischief charge he faced as a result of his actions was in fact, dropped as was claimed it would be.

The silence left after the apology been a void simply filled with more questions, all asking, really, the same thing: Why did he do it?

I can’t answer that. Maybe Mr. Maud can’t either.

Maybe it would be unlike the “million question kid’ to have it any other way.


Maud’s Apology in full:

I’m sorry for jeopardizing the reputation of the Winnipeg Police Service. I want to say sorry to the police officers and putting them in that situation. I’m also deeply sorry to their families, friends and colleagues for causing them to doubt, mistrust and question the two police officers. And I am so sorry for that. I understand that would not have happened if I didn’t say the things that I said. I feel bad for what I put them through.

At the time, it was hard. I felt overwhelmed when the TV crews and community took it to a whole new level. Next thing you know, it was all over the place, reporters from different media sources were questioning me. I was scared. I never wanted this to happen. During this time all I wanted was to live my life normally and go to school. It was the worst two years of my life.

I felt bad that my mom moved all the way from the next province to come support me. I put my mom in a situation where she thought she didn’t raise me right. I just made a mistake. I try my best to apologize to everyone that I may have harmed.

I also want to acknowledge the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs for taking the time to help me. I didn’t mean to put my people through this.

I don’t want this to impact anyone from submitting legitimate complaints in the future. I want people to understand that I did not intend for this to happen. I was taught that forgiveness is a part of healing and I need this to move on in life in a positive way. In many ways, I learned how to have respect, how to be truthful and honest. I am part of a youth community, and I want them to think of me as a role model.

I want to encourage youth to tell everything that they know is right. I was able to move forward and graduate school and am now doing good things for myself. In closing, I want to say sorry and thank you for listening.

REDHEAD INQUEST: The Joyal decision in full

(Jaylene Sanderson-Redhead)
(Jaylene Sanderson-Redhead)

In recent months, the Redhead inquiry was dealing with a request by Awasis CFS  to have inquest Judge Larry Allen kicked off the case due to how he handled a social work witness.

Links: Here and here  With the position of my bosses at SunMedia on this important case here.

The agency’s bid — supported by the Northern Authority — went before Court of Queen’s Bench Chief Justice Glenn Joyal and was shot down.

Here’s Joyal’s written decision for the fullness of the record: