Friday night, Canadaland’s Jesse Brown dropped into The Marquee and asked me and Terra Tailleur “Is Atlantic Journalism Fucked?” As usual, Tailleur came prepared with reams of facts and figures. And also as usual, I opined.
It was great fun, and thanks to all the people who made it come together: Brown and Tailleur, to be sure, but also Canadaland producer Russell Gragg, Examiner office manager Iris, all the CKDU volunteers, and Victor Syperek and his excellent bar staff.
The Canadaland podcast can be found here. We’ll have excerpts on this week’s Examineradio podcast.
2. Examineradio, episode #101
Haligonians are outraged at last week’s decision by a Nova Scotia judge to acquit a cab driver of sexual assault. Judge Gregory Lenehan determined that the Crown hadn’t provided sufficient proof of lack of consent, despite the testimony of an expert witness and the fact that the alleged victim was found unconscious by police as the driver was pulling up his pants.
We speak with Susan Wilson, a program coordinator with the Avalon Sexual Assault Centre, about the incident in question, the low rates of reporting of sexual assaults, and how the miniscule conviction rate is discouraging victims from reporting.
In other news, former premier Darrell Dexter peddles weed, teachers plan to remain pissed for the next four years, and cops still can’t track down their missing evidence.
The Avalon Centre Report referenced by Wilson is available here, while Robyn Doolittle’s groundbreaking series, Unfounded, can be read here.
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3. The Judicial Council ruling on Lewis Matheson
Friday morning, I mentioned former judges Raymond Bartlett and Lewis Matheson, both of whom were subjects of Judicial Council decisions. Later in the day, Examiner court watcher Christina Macdonald went to the Legislative Library in search of those decisions, and found the June 1996 decision concerning Matheson. (We’re still hunting down the Bartlett decision.) I believe this is the last time the Judicial Council issued a decision.
Before he was a judge, Matheson was a crown prosecutor who “said that a fence should be built around the nearby Eskasoni reserve to prevent the Natives from going to Sydney to cause problems.” However, the Judicial Council was responding to his actions as a judge.
The Judicial Council decision noted that a man named Colin Boutlier was charged with breaking down the front door of his estranged wife’s house, to which Matheson commented that “I don’t know, even having heard everything that was said, whether it’s your own fault or you happen to have a very sensitive mate who is easily rattled.” The judge went on to sentence Boutlier to probation (and said he would amend the order to include paying for fixing the door). Thirteen days later, Boutlier killed his girlfriend.
Mrs. Boutlier wrote to the Judicial Council:
When I hear of his girlfriend’s death and his attempted suicide, I went to pieces. “That could have been me.” Several days later I hear the remark made by Judge Matheson. My first reaction was he had no right to say that. He doesn’t even know me or what I have been through or what I’m going through. Given the circumstances, I guess I had every right to be sensitive and even easily rattled.
On the Boutlier matter, the Council decided that:
…Judge Matheson did not intentionally attempt to demean Mrs. Boutlier, nor does it find that Judge Matheson has an underlying disrespect or antipathy to female participants in the court process in general or female complainants in domestic violence matters in particular. On the contrary, many of the witnesses before the Judicial Council described Judge Matheson as a gentleman.
However, the Judicial is of the opinion that Judge Matheson’s remarks in this matter reflect an ongoing lack of sensitivity to the realities facing females in cases of domestic violence. While Judge Matheson’s remarks cannot be dissected in isolation from the context of the case in which the were uttered, they also must be interpreted in light of the earlier proceedings before the Judicial Council in which Judge Matheson appeared and was chastized for similar inappropriate comments.
That earlier case, you’ll recall, involved comments Matheson made before sentencing a 42-year-old man to jail for sexually assaulting two 15-year-old girls and a 12-year-old girl: “What is most serious about this, is that it involves children …If these were 35-year-old women, women that (the perpetrator) had done this to, I might smile and throw this out of court.”
The Judicial Council went on to “caution” Matheson.
However, there was a second complaint to the Council from Bonnie Nicholson, who worked with the Cape Breton Transition House. In response to the decision involving the sexual assault of the three girls, Nicholson told the Chronicle Herald that she wouldn’t want to be a woman in Matheson’s court, and said that unlike other judges, Matheson had never toured the Transition House.
Some time later, Nicholson found herself before the judge on a traffic matter. She asked for a delay and a change to another court, a request that Matheson granted, but not before laying into Nicholson in a packed courtroom, essentially calling Nicholson a liar. The decision notes:
It is the opinion of the Judicial Council that Judge Matheson’s actions…were premeditated and grossly inappropriate. It amounted to a personal attack on a member of the public while he was performing a public duty. To date, Judge Matheson appears unrepentant.
The Council “reprimanded” Matheson for his verbal attack on Nicholson.
A “caution” and a “reprimand,” neither of which materially affected Matheson’s career or pay, don’t seem to be much of a disincentive for Matheson (or other judges) to continue with such behaviour. I’m sure some of my lawyer friends will argue otherwise, that the decision brought reputational harm to the judge…. well, maybe; but getting a sideways glance at the country club hardly compares to being called a liar by a judge in open court.
I’ll update this page later with a link to the entire decision (it’s too large for me to deal with right now).
1. The Lyle Howe case: ‘If you look hard enough…’
“When I was a young CBC reporter back in the 1970s, I got a tip from a source inside the department of health that the RCMP was investigating a Shubenacadie doctor named Ross McInnis for MSI fraud,” writes Stephen Kimber:
I didn’t realize it at first, but I would later discover it was the first health care fraud investigation ever initiated by RCMP officers directly rather than as the result of a routine audit of a doctor’s billing records.
A few weeks after the report was broadcast, I got a call from McInnis who wanted to share his side of the story.
Over the course of eight hours one day, he laid out his strange, shocking tale, all of which I was eventually able to independently verify.
Kimber goes on to relate repeated instances of police malfeasance against McInnis, and notes the parallels between McInnis’ case and the story of Lyle Howe, who Kimber profiled last week.
Click here to read “The Lyle Howe case: ‘If you look hard enough…’”
This article is behind the Examiner’s paywall, and so available only to paid subscribers. Click here to purchase a subscription.
Grants Committee (Monday, 1pm, City Hall) — in which we give a bunch of yacht clubs a break on their taxes, because people who join yacht clubs are hurting financially, or something.
Public Information Meeting – Case 20832 (Monday, 7pm, Hammonds Plains Community Centre) — more rezonings in Bedford West.
City Council (Tuesday, 10am, City Hall) — I’ll have more tomorrow; here’s the agenda.
Community Services (Tuesday, 1pm, Province House) — Sarah Kay Granke, Specialist, Sexual Violence Prevention and Supports, will be asked about the Sexual Violence Strategy Progress Report.
Serials Management (Monday, 9am, Room 1016, Kenneth C. Rowe Management Building) — Ken Field will speak on “Citation Analysis as a Tool for Collection Management and Development.”
Web Applications (Tuesday, 11:30am, Room 430, Goldberg Computer Science Building) — Some guy named Luke will speak on “Performance Beyond Your Portfolio.” Luke doesn’t appear to have a last name, but maybe you don’t need one when you’re the uber geek:
With over a decade of experience, Luke is no stranger to the ins and outs of the web. He has experience across several different web technologies on both the front end and back end. Luke has worked on and led a number of different, prominent sites and projects for a large list of big international clients, including Cartoon Network, MTV, and Nickelodeon. When he’s not fiddling around on his machine, you can catch him watching Jays games with craft beer in hand and obsessively managing his fantasy baseball teams.
Inequalities in Health (Tuesday, 12pm, Room 409, Centre for Clinical Research) — Mohammad Hajizadeh will speak on “Income-related Inequalities in Health Among Canadian Indigenous Populations: 2001-2012.”
Invictus Games (Tuesday, 4:30pm, Rebecca Cohn Auditorium) — Heidi Petracek will moderate a panel talking about “Dalhousie and the Invictus Games Toronto 2017.” Panel includes Michael Burns, Alice Aiken, Celina Shirazipour, Lewis MacKenzie, Pauline Godsell, Luc Martin, and Luc’s service dog, Trail.
Environmental Racism (Tuesday, 6pm, Room 105, Weldon Law Building) — Dorene Bernard, Stuart C.B. Gilby, Lisa Mitchell, and Ingrid Waldron will talk about “Race, Place, and the Law: Perspectives on Environmental Racism, Grassroots Resistance, and Law and Policy in Nova Scotia.”
In the harbour
4am: CSL Tacoma, bulker, sails from National Gypsum for Baltimore
5:30am: Maule, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Norfolk
6am: Em Kea, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Montreal
11:30am: Em Kea, container ship, sails from Pier 42 for sea
4pm: Energy Patriot, oil tanker, sails from Imperial Oil for sea
10pm: Maule, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for Cagliari, Italy
I’ve got nothing.
Is Haley Ryan of Metro the only local reporter to track down Lenehan’s “victim”.
(See today’s edition.)
If so she deserves lots of credit, and it also speaks to Canadaland’s topic. When a local free paper, with low paid reporters, beats all the other local media it says something about the state of journalism here.
That’s damn good reporting!
Excuse me, Tim, but it isn’t just Haligonians who are pissed off and taking action against that joke-of-a-judge’s ruling. People from across NS and beyond are aware of and writing letters, making phone calls, signing that petition and otherwise making a fuss. Just reminding you that not all your subscribers or readers are Hali-centric.
Point taken. FWIW, I just pull Russ’s language from the podcast, but I should better edit them.
Surely the matter should be appealed. Let us see what the Court of Appeal has to say about the judge’s application of the law to the facts. If I were a prosecutor I don’t think I’d want that case kicking around out there as a precedent. Non-binding given its level, but still something a judge found.