Attorney General of Canadian province wants lawyers ‘held accountable’ after judge spying incident
MANITOBA, July 19, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) – The Attorney General for the province of Manitoba wants lawyers from the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF) to be held “accountable” after its former head admitted he had a Canadian judge followed by a private investigator.
In a statement issued last Thursday, Manitoba Justice Minister Cameron Friesen wrote that in his capacity as Attorney General, he has “written to the Law Society of Manitoba to request that it initiate an investigation into the conduct of lawyers associated with the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms.”
“It is gravely concerning that a private investigator was hired to conduct surveillance of a member of the judiciary, ostensibly to embarrass or intimidate the judge. This is an obvious invasion of privacy and it is difficult to believe that these actions were not intended to influence the outcome of the court case,” wrote Friesen.
“The lawyers involved must be held accountable for their actions, in order to maintain public confidence in the administration of justice, to protect the integrity of our independent judiciary and uphold the rule of law in Canada.”
As confirmed by JCCF on July 12, the group’s president John Carpay is taking an “indefinite” leave of absence after admitting he had Chief Justice Glenn Joyal of the Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench and other government officials followed by a private investigator to see if they were breaking local COVID rules.
The JCCF said none of its board members were aware of Carpay’s plans. Carpay says he acted alone and his actions were “not discussed with Justice Centre clients, staff lawyers or Board members.”
JCCF Interim President fights back call to investigate its lawyers
In a statement dated July 15, recently-appointed interim president Lisa Bildy said the investigation called for by Friesen is “groundless and unjustified.”
“Although our litigation director, Jay Cameron, learned of the decision after the fact, none of the members of the board, staff lawyers or outside counsel had any knowledge of it. These facts have been stated in court and in our public statements on the matter,” she wrote.
“These efforts to damage the professional reputations of our lawyers are groundless and unjustified. None of our staff lawyers or outside counsel, including Ms. Pejovic, had knowledge of or involvement in the surveillance of officials.”
Bildy added that Carpay has “owned this mistake and will deal with whatever flows from it,” but the JCCF will continue to fight for Canadians freedoms.
“Many people in this country are counting on the Justice Centre to continue its work. The organization will use this opportunity to implement improvements in operations and decision-making processes, refocus on our mission, and continue our important legal battles on behalf of Canadians,” wrote Bildy.
According to a CBC news report, the Law Society of Manitoba confirmed it has “taken very seriously” Friesen’s request to investigate the JCCF, but that it is a complex case as it involves lawyers from many provinces other than Manitoba.
Ottawa human rights lawyer Richard Warman has also filed complaints demanding that JCCF Manitoba lawyer Allison Pejovic and litigation director Jay Cameron be investigated for any potential involvement in the hiring of the private investigator.