News

1. Injustice in Nova Scotia

As I reported Tuesday, three Germans got drunk on a flight from Germany to Cuba and caused such a disruption that the flight had to be diverted to Halifax, where the three were arrested.

Transport Canada hasn’t yet detailed what exactly happened on the plane, but here in Nova Scotia, all sorts of people are getting involved.

Steve Bruce, the courts reporter at the Chronicle Herald, does excellent work. Really, he’s one of only two reporters in Halifax with a dedicated courts beat (the other is Blair Rhodes at the CBC). Anyway, while he’s usually covering murderers and rapists and such, three drunk Germans are apparently newsworthy (even by my own judgment), so there Bruce was yesterday covering their bail hearing; he reports:

Defence lawyer Julian Dickinson and prosecutor Marian Fortune-Stone spent several hours Wednesday trying to work out release conditions to present to the court, but they hit a roadblock late in the day regarding cash deposits required in this situation.

“The individuals before the court are German nationals,” Fortune-Stone told the court. “They have no ties to Canada and they are only here because of the alleged offences.”

The prosecutor said the accused all have money available that can be deposited for bail but are having difficulty getting access to the funds.

She suggested that for one of the men, an option might be to have the judge order deputy sheriffs to escort him to a banking machine so he can withdraw money.

“I don’t think I have any authority to do that whatsoever,” Judge Dan MacRury said.

The judge also said he was not prepared to put sheriffs “in that position.”

So the men went sent back to the pokey for another day until relatives could wire some money.

That’s not why I’m writing about this, though.

Bruce’s article caught my attention because I’m familiar with both the prosecutor, Marian Fortune-Stone, and the judge, Dan MacRury, as both are connected to the Glen Assoun story. Assoun, you’ll recall, spent 16 years in prison for the murder of Brenda Way, a crime everyone who looks at the case admits Assoun probably didn’t commit; he is the subject of the first three parts of my Dead Wrong series.

Glen and his daughter Tanya, outside the courtroom in Halifax after being released from custody in November 2014. Photo: Halifax Examiner

Long before he was appointed to the bench, MacRury was himself a prosecutor, and was one of two men (the second was Ron Fetterly) brought in by the crown to prosecute Assoun after the initial prosecutor, Dennis Theman, bailed out of the case for some unexplained reason (but my suspicion is that Theman wasn’t at all comfortable with the prosecution of Assoun). There was a lot wrong with that prosecution, as I explained:

I also think the crown knew, or at least should have known, that the case against Glen sat on the shakiest of evidence, and the case should have never been brought to trial. I can’t get in prosecutors Ron Fetterly’s and Dan MacRury’s heads, so I don’t know their motives; the simplest and perhaps most charitable read is they simply took police investigator Dave MacDonald’s case at face value.

Thinking more about the case, I wrote last year:

I respect Theman’s refusal to discuss the case, but it leaves me guessing as to what went on.

The evidence against Assoun was shaky, at best. My read — which, sure, comes 18 years after the fact — is that the evidence was clearly fabricated. A prosecutor’s job is not to get convictions, but rather to get justice. And if Theman looked at the evidence and realized it was bullshit, then his obligation to justice required him to refuse to participate.

I don’t know why the [crown] brought on two new prosecutors for the case, but if the relationship between the crown and police is as intertwined and problematic as [Bill] Turpin suggests it is in the Corey Rogers case, then it starts to make sense: the cops wanted to close the Way case, and doing so required convicting Assoun, a disagreeable man no one would care about if he was railroaded into a conviction for a crime he didn’t commit, and the crown was happy to play along.

Ultimately, I’m guessing, either as a direct cause or a contributing factor, Theman’s disagreement with the [crown] over the Assoun case led him to quit his job. He’s now a defence lawyer.

But what about Ron Fetterly and Dan MacRury, who were brought in to prosecute Assoun after Theman’s departure? Didn’t they also have an obligation to justice, rather than to simply get a conviction?

As I got into the Dead Wrong series, I began to wonder what other cases all the players were involved in…

What about the prosecutors, Fetterly and MacRury? Did they go on to prosecute other cases that should have been dropped? To find out, I filed a Freedom of Information request seeking all murder trials either man had been assigned to. The response: the PPS doesn’t keep records about which cases prosecutors are assigned to.

Frankly, I think that’s a bald lie.

And now MacRury is a judge.

As for Fortune-Stone, she represented the crown in the parole hearing for Assoun in November 2014. I won’t rehash all of Dead Wrong here, but by this time everyone knew Glen Assoun was innocent. There is some extraordinary piece of evidence still out there — still, these nearly four years later, being kept from the public — that entirely vindicates Assoun, and at the hearing before Judge James Chipman in 2014, everyone knew what that evidence was, they just weren’t saying. Here’s how Department of Justice Canada lawyer Mark Green put it in a passage from a document that was read aloud in court:

… I am of the view that on the basis of all this information, including the new and significant information that has been submitted with your application, there may be a reasonable basis to conclude that a miscarriage of justice likely occurred in your case.

The judge knew what the “new and significant information” was. Here’s what Chipman wrote in his ruling:

I venture to say that I have had cause to review all of what Mr. Green of the CCRG [Criminal Conviction Review Group, a division of the federal Justice Department] read before he authored the preliminary assessment. On the basis of my review of the material, I can certainly understand how Mr. Green reached the conclusion he did that, “… there may be a reasonable basis to conclude that a miscarriage of justice likely occurred…”.

Assoun’s lawyers of course knew what the evidence was — they found it in the first place and passed it on to Green.

And Marian Fortune–Stone absolutely knew what that evidence was. She had been provided with it, and commented on it in court.

Still, even then — even knowing that there was evidence vindicating Assoun, and that he had spent 16 years in prison for a crime he did not commit — even then, she insisted on the strictest of parole conditions for Assoun. Assoun is to wear an ankle bracelet, is in effect under house arrest through the evenings and night, cannot drink, must report each and every contact he has with any woman to the police, and must report to each of two police agencies once a week. This for a man who is, in Chipman’s words, likely “factually innocent.”

Assoun is one of only six Canadians ever granted an extraordinary court-ordered parole before he was eligible under the terms of his sentence. That’s because it would offend justice for an innocent man to sit in prison even after everyone acknowledges that he is innocent.

What was supposed to happen after Assoun was paroled was that the Justice Department was to review the case and take some sort of action: either say the “new and significant information” isn’t as strong as was argued and send Assoun back to prison, or order a new trial, or declare Assoun innocent. But it’s been three years and seven months, and the Justice Department has done none of the above.

Assoun’s lawyers won’t talk to me about the evidence, and won’t grant me an interview with Assoun. I understand why that is — they don’t want the odd comment to blow the case, and besides, there’s a court order to not discuss the case. But without any factual evidence before me, I can only speculate about why the Justice Department is taking so long, and the only thing that makes sense to me is this: the “new and significant information” (now four years old) will show that Assoun was framed by the cops, and if the Justice Department takes any action on Assoun’s case — even sending him back to prison — then Green’s document is entered into the court record as a public document and all the world will know exactly how Assoun was framed.

And so Assoun sits in legal limbo under the strictest possible parole conditions.

This is no small deal. Assoun made it through 16 years of prison and kept his sanity, but while on parole has suffered a mental breakdown. It’s an indicator of his character that when he realized his condition, he didn’t lash out, he didn’t commit any crime, he didn’t run, he didn’t drown himself in drugs or alcohol, but rather, he checked himself into a mental hospital. He is now being treated, and is under the care of a family member. By all reports even now he has abided by every condition placed on him, and yet the legal limbo and the strict conditions continue.

The justice system is destroying an innocent man, and both MacRury and Fortune-Stone have been complicit in that destruction.

One injustice done 19 years ago (Assoun was convicted in 1999) has ripples that run all through Halifax policing, the crown prosecution office, and the courts, right to the present.

Three drunk Germans are the least of it.

2. Fires

Firefighters work the rear of the building at 81 Primrose Street. Photo: Halifax Examiner

The Fire Department has added the Primrose Street fire to its investigative summary list, as follows:

81 Primrose St., Dartmouth

May 19, 2018

This fire involved a multi-unit dwelling. There were multiple minor injuries and one fatality. The area of origin was on or near a couch that was located in the living room of an apartment unit on the third floor. The likely cause of this fire was careless use of smoking materials, however this fire is ultimately classified as UNDETERMINED.

There was a second fire the same morning four blocks away at the old Pinecrest Video at the corner of Pinecrest and Brule Streets; that fire has not been added to the investigative summary list.

The Primrose fire was the more serious of the two — someone died, and dozens of people have been displaced, while Pinecrest Video has long been vacant. Still, the Pincecrest fire had a massive response, and the proximity of the two fires is odd.

Speaking of the death at Primrose, Alexander Quon points out that:

The public has a right to know why someone died. But we don’t even know the age, identity or gender of the deceased because it hasn’t been made public.

— Alexander Quon (@AlexanderQuon) June 5, 2018

Quon made those tweets before the cause was announced, but his point about identifying the dead remains.

3. Po-po pickups

A police release from early this morning:

At 2:50 a.m., 7 June, Cole Harbour RCMP responded to a report of a possible impaired driver operating a white pickup truck on Main Road Eastern Passage. The RCMP attempted to stop the vehicle and the two occupants fled on foot on Main Road. The vehicle license plate was confirmed to belong to Halifax Regional Police.

3:25 a.m. Halifax Regional Police confirmed the white pickup truck is an unmarked Forensic Identification Section vehicle and it was stolen during a Break & Enter that evening into an off duty officers residence in Halifax.

RCMP officers checked the area and located two adult males outside the Needs Convenience store on Main Road. Both males were arrested for Public Intoxication. Upon searching the male’s incidental to arrest officers located property belonging to the off duty officer. The males were then arrested for Break & Enter, Theft of Motor Vehicle.

The two adult males are 22 and 23 years old, both from Halifax. They are held for court and will facing charges of Break & Enter and Theft of Motor Vehicle.

Coincidently, also this morning the city issued a tender offer for two ½ Ton “Police Rated” Pick-Up Trucks.

4. Prisoners by ethnicity

The province has released stats on people held in adult correctional facilities by their ethnicity. The last year for which stats are available is the 2016-17 fiscal year, as follows (the ethnic categories are the province’s, not mine, nor necessarily the categories preferred by the prisoners themselves):

5. Erratum

Yesterday I wrote that the province had “for the first time published its Municipal Fiscal Statistics.” That is incorrect; the stats are published every year. I made the mistake because the stats were placed under the “newly added” rather than the “newly updated” part of the province’s Open Data portal.

Please forgive me.


Government

City

Thursday

Harbour East Marine Drive Community Council (Thursday, 6pm, HEMDCC Meeting Space, Alderney Gate) — here’s the agenda.

Friday

No public meetings.

Province

No public meetings today or Friday.


On campus

Dalhousie

Friday

Thesis Defence, Chemistry (Friday, 9:30am, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate Matthew Christian will defend his ​​thesis, “​Modeling Dispersion Interactions on Metal Surfaces Using the Exchange-Hole Dipole Moment​​.” Bring your own Exchange-Hole Dipole.

​​Thesis Defence, Mathematics and Statistics (Friday, 1:30pm, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate Marie-Andrée Langlois​ will defend her ​​thesis, “Homogeneous Integer-Valued Polynomials Of Three Variables.​​​​​”

Wetting Transparency of Two-dimensional Films Characterized Through Atomic-scale Friction and Adhesion Measurements and Simulations (Friday, 1:30pm, Room 226, Chemistry Building) — Philip Egberts from the University of Calgary will speak.

2018 Dr. Karen Mann Lecture and Reception (Friday, 4pm, Theatre A, Tupper Medical Building) — Kevin Eva from the University of British Columbia will speak. RSVP to davitaharris@dal.ca

Peace and Equity in Ocean Governance – Possibility or Pipe Dream? (Friday, 7pm, Room 105, Weldon Law Building) — panelists are Wendy Watson-Wright from Ocean Frontier Institute; Vice-Adm. (ret’d) Glenn Davidson, former Ambassador of Canada to Syria and Afghanistan; Hugh Williamson, Marine Affairs Program, Dalhousie University; and Susanna Fuller, High Seas Alliance.

Saturday

200 Trees Planting Party (Saturday, 9am, Rowe Management Building) — urban forest researcher Peter Duinker will lead the planting of 200 trees across the Studley and Sexton campuses for Dal’s 200th anniversary. Register here.


In the harbour

3:30am: Maersk Palermo, container ship, sails from Pier 42 for Bremerhaven, Germany
7am: Veendam, cruise ship with up to 1,350 passengers, arrives at Pier 22 from Sydney
7am: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, arrives at Pier 36 from Saint-Pierre
8am: Dalian Express, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for Dubai
3pm: Atlantic Sea, ro-ro container, arrives at Fairview Cove from New York
3:30pm: Veendam, cruise ship, sails from Pier 22 for Bar Harbor


Footnotes

Examineradio has been on hiatus, but we’re gearing up for a reboot.

Tim Bousquet

Tim Bousquet is the editor and publisher of the Halifax Examiner. Twitter @Tim_Bousquet Mastodon

Leave a comment

Only subscribers to the Halifax Examiner may comment on articles. We moderate all comments. Be respectful; whenever possible, provide links to credible documentary evidence to back up your factual claims. Please read our Commenting Policy.
Cancel reply