Sunday, November 29, 2009

Ottawa police officer charged with assault

An Ottawa police officer has been charged with several counts of assault and could face charges under Ontario's Police Services Act.

The Ontario Provincial Police have charged the 33-year-old Ottawa officer with two counts of assault with a weapon and two counts of assault causing bodily harm, Ottawa police said in a media release Wednesday.

The Ottawa police professional standards section is also investigating, and charges may be laid under the Police Services Act.

"The Ottawa Police Service takes the conduct of its members very seriously and holds all sworn officers to a standard that is consistent with community expectations and their oath of office," Gilles Larochelle, acting chief of the Ottawa police, said in the media release.

"In cases where an officer is found to be in violation of these standards, discipline will be sought."

The officer was suspended from duty with pay pending the outcome of the criminal charges.

Ottawa Police and the OPP would not release the name of the officer in order to "protect the victims' privacy and prevent further victimization."


Thursday, November 26, 2009

Man charged `because of his race,' judge finds

They lied in court, is this not perjury?

Published On Thu Nov 26 2009

Drug charges against a Toronto man have been thrown out after a Superior Court justice found police engaged in racial profiling when they pulled his vehicle over and then lied about it in court.

Justice Frances Kiteley found police "had no lawful basis to pull Mr. (Irshad) Ahmed over" on Nov. 25, 2008, while he was driving in Toronto's west end.

Constables Justyn Humeniuk and Ryan Willmer of 23 Division said they pulled 26-year-old Ahmed over because he ran a red light. Kiteley rejected that explanation, saying the officers had "lied." "He did nothing to cause the police officers to pay attention to him," she wrote in an 11-page ruling released Wednesday.

"I am compelled to draw the inference that Mr. Ahmed was investigated and arbitrarily detained because of his race," the judge wrote.

"I'm happy for Mr. Ahmed," his lawyer, Gary Grill, said Wednesday. "But he's been in jail for a year because of the colour of his skin."

This is the second time a judge has concluded officers lied in court about their dealings with Ahmed. Last year, a judge found officers used excessive force when Tasering Ahmed; Ahmed was sent to jail for 75 days for obstructing police.

The court heard a tape of the incident in which an officer is heard taunting Ahmed, who was lying face down in broken glass.

Toronto Star

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Another Judge..........

Shannon Kari, National Post
Published: Sunday, November 22, 2009

TORONTO -- A second judge in Ontario has ruled that the province's stunt driving law is unconstitutional, which could increase the pressure on police to stop laying the charge until the issue is decided by a higher court.

Justice Peter West, a provincial court judge in Newmarket, found that a potential penalty of up to six months in jail violates the Charter of Rights because the law does not permit an accused person to put forward any defence.

"There is no air of reality to the Crown's submissions that a defendant charged with stunt driving has an available defence of due diligence," wrote Judge West, in a ruling released Nov. 19.

As a result, he dismissed stunt driving charges against Alexandra Drutz, who was 18 when she clocked at 157 km/h while driving her parent's car in March 2008 on Highway 407, just north of Toronto.

Stunt driving is defined as being more than 50 kilometres per hour over the speed limit, which is the same type of "absolute liability" offence as speeding infractions in the Highway Traffic Act, said Judge West. "Calling the conduct stunt driving does not change its characterization - it is still a speeding offence albeit by a different name," he stated.

An absolute liability offence means someone may not argue they took precautions and did not realize how fast they were driving. More than 20 years ago the Supreme Court of Canada stated that potential jail terms for offences that do not permit a defence breaches the Charter.

The ruling by Judge West comes just weeks after a provincial court judge in eastern Ontario came to the same conclusion and overturned the conviction of a 62-year-old grandmother charged with stunt driving.

The Ontario Provincial Police stated at the time that it would continue to lay charges under the stunt driving laws. The province also appealed that decision. It is scheduled to be heard by the Ontario Court of Appeal in about two months from now.

The two court rulings are binding on Justices of Peace in Ontario, who preside over many Highway Traffic Act trials.

Until there is a ruling on the stunt driving laws from the Ontario Court of Appeal, police should take a "time out" from laying these charges, said Enzo Rondinelli, a Toronto lawyer who along with Paul Cooper represented Ms. Drutz.

"The current score in provincial court is 2-0 in favour of a finding of constitutional invalidity," noted Mr. Rondinelli. "There are other sections under the Highway Traffic Act for police to deal with speeders," he added.

More than 10,000 people have been charged under the stunt driving provisions in Ontario since they were introduced in 2007 by then-attorney-general Michael Bryant.

Judge West noted in his ruling that the stunt driving provisions were passed unanimously by the Ontario legislature in what was billed as a law targeting street racing. The specific "regulations" however, which defined speeding as stunt driving and have now been found to be unconstitutional, were drawn up at a later date by the Ontario government.

National Post

Bike lane backlash

A Toronto Police officer who parked his cruiser in a bike lane to get his lunch is getting no love from his superiors, who are coming down hard on his "stupid" and "unacceptable" actions.

On Sunday,the Sun witnessed a city cop sitting inside the Grillway Cafe, at Runnymede Rd. and Annette St., while his cruiser was blocking a bike lane on Annette.

The officer was parked there for at least 20 minutes before leaving the cafe with a can of pop and a paper lunch bag.

But instead of protecting their own, Toronto Police brass called the officer's parking actions "stupid" and "unacceptable."


Last week, cycling advocates brought the issue of blocking bike lanes for non-emergency reasons to the attention of the Toronto Police Services Board, which asked Chief Bill Blair to examine the issue.

"That's not kosher at all. It's right in our procedures that, outside of exigent circumstances, you do not park illegally, and that includes in bike lanes," said Sgt. Tim Burrows, of the force's traffic services department. He added higher-ups at the force were "incensed" when they heard about the Annette St. incident.

"It's very unfortunate that the officer decided to do this, but from the top on down, it's something that will not be tolerated," he insisted.

Residents said yesterday it's not unusual for officers to park illegally in the bike lane while they get some food at the popular Grillway.

"They're parked there quite often," said Orest Zakydalsky, who lives a few doors from the cafe. His mother and aunt were both dinged with $60 tickets for blocking the bike lane on the day city management posted bike lane signs without warning during the civic strike.

"I think it's a bit strange that the very people who are giving us tickets for parking in the bike lane do it themselves whenever they feel like it," Zakydalsky said.

Staff Insp. Peter Lennox, who runs 11 Division where the officer is from, said he would be issuing a division-wide communique "right away" reminding officers they can't block bike lanes, or otherwise park illegally, except in specific situations.

"All things being equal, we expect them to follow the same laws as everybody else," Lennox said. "I'm going to make sure people know that that's not to be done.

"They can park legally along with everyone else when they go into not only the Grillway, but anywhere else in the division."

Lennox said it's "possible" the officer who blocked the bike lane will face a reprimand, but not without an internal investigation.

Former police services board chairman Alan Heisey urged current members Thursday to start a ticketing blitz against bike lane blockers.

Yvonne Bambrick, the executive director of the Toronto Cyclists Union, also raised concerns about the issue with the board last week, calling for the province to double the $60 fine for parking in a bike lane.

Her association also wants the city's emergency services to use common sense when it comes to blocking bike lanes.

"It happens all the time," she said. "We totally understand their need when they are working, but when they're having lunch, or whatever, find a side street or a parking space.

Toronto Sun

Monday, November 16, 2009

Bryant case delayed until December

A criminal court case involving former Ontario attorney general Michael Bryant has been put over until Dec 7.

The former politician, who has yet to appear in court, was represented by his lawyer, Marie Henein, on Monday.

"We are anxious to have this matter move forward," she told the Toronto judge.

Henein said her client's case hasn't moved ahead because she is still waiting for disclosure documents from the Crown.

Mark Sandler, who represented the Crown in court, told the judge that both sides agree that the case should proceed as quickly as possible.

Both sides are expected to attend a closed door, case management session with Justice Paul Bentley on Nov. 30, which both sides described as a routine step.

Henein said she hopes to have the disclosure documents by then.

Bryant faces charges of criminal negligence causing death and dangerous driving causing death in a collision involving a cyclist on Aug. 31. Police say bike courier Darcy Allan Sheppard, 33, died after grabbing on to a car in Toronto following an altercation with the driver.

Since Bryant once appointed judges and oversaw Crown prosecutors, Vancouver lawyer Richard Peck has been brought in to prosecute the case. An out-of-province judge is expected to preside over the trial once it begins.

Bryant was elected as the Liberal MPP for St. Paul's riding in 1999 and won re-election in 2003 — becoming the province's youngest-ever attorney general at the time — and again in 2007. He also served as aboriginal affairs minister and minister of economic development.

Bryant remained an Ontario cabinet minister until May of this year when he stepped down to take the job as president and CEO of Invest Toronto, an arm's-length agency set up by the City of Toronto to promote investment. Until then he had been frequently mentioned as a possible successor to Premier Dalton McGuinty as leader of the province's Liberals.

Bryant is a Harvard-trained lawyer who clerked at the Supreme Court of Canada and later taught law at the University of Toronto, Osgoode Hall and King's College, London.


Saturday, November 14, 2009

Toronto police officer charged with impaired

Toronto Police Constable Adam Lourenco was charged with impaired.
Constable Lourenco was allegedly found behind the wheel of his vehicle with the motor running, asleep.

Friday, November 13, 2009

OPP commissioner loses court appeal

An adjudicator hearing a messy disciplinary case involving Ontario's top police officer showed no bias and need not step down, the province's highest court ruled Friday.

The decision sided with a lower court that found Ontario Provincial Police Commissioner Julian Fantino had failed to prove the adjudicator was unfit to hear the case.

"The Divisional Court found that an informed person viewing the matter realistically and practically — and having thought the matter through — would not conclude there was any apprehension of bias on the part of the adjudicator," the Appeal Court ruled.

"I would go further and say that the events in this case fall far short of the type of conduct that would give rise to a reasonable apprehension of bias."

The adjudicator, retired justice Leonard Montgomery, had been hearing the disciplinary case against two senior officers Fantino charged with misconduct.

Fantino was under cross-examination last fall when he accused Montgomery of bias and pressed him to step down.

"This commissioner interrupted his cross-examination 13 months ago for what the Court of Appeal is basically saying was for meritless reasons," defence lawyer Julian Falconer said Friday.

"My clients are simply anxious to finish this case up. Enough is enough."

Fantino's lawyer Tom Curry expressed disappointment at the decision, adding that he would consider now trying to take the case to the Supreme Court of Canada.

"I certainly haven't ruled such a thing out," Curry said.

"I felt that the case did clearly meet the legal requirements for a finding of a reasonable apprehension of bias."

The defence in the misconduct case against Supt. Ken MacDonald and Insp. Alison Jevons has alleged that Fantino only laid the charges to appease the police union and because he suspected MacDonald of leaking information.

During the disciplinary hearings, Falconer has also accused Fantino of witness tampering and political interference.

"This is a political prosecution and nothing the commissioner has done in the last 13 months in front of the various judges … has done anything other than to simply further confirm their concerns," Falconer said Friday. Fantino has rejected allegations of any untoward conduct on his part.

The hearing saw Montgomery clash with Fantino and prosecutor Brian Gover, who said the provincial attorney general backed his request for the adjudicator to step down.

The bias allegation came when Montgomery expressed concerns after Fantino changed his evidence.

Montgomery in turn complained Gover was trying to intimidate him and decried any government involvement in the quasi-judicial process.

As of Sept. 11, 2009 the Ontario Ministry of Community safety and Correctional Services has spent more than $500,000 on all proceedings stemming from the affair, CBC News has learned.

The labyrinthine affair began in April 2004, when Susan Cole of Gananoque, Ont., called 911 to say her estranged husband, a provincial police sergeant, had taken a baseball bat to her car.

Cole complained the responding officers asked her to leave her home rather than arrest her spouse.

MacDonald and Jevons investigated Cole's complaint, and concluded the responding officers had not followed proper procedure.


Ontario's deputy health minister resigns!

One of the last remaining figures in Ontario's eHealth controversy has resigned just weeks after he was grilled by a legislature committee about the $1 billion Ontario has spent so far on electronic health records.

Deputy health minister Ron Sapsford, who was appointed to the post in 2005, headed the largest bureaucracy in the Ontario government with a budget of more than $40 billion. He also oversaw the creation of eHealth and served as its interim CEO last summer.

Deb Matthews, the minister of health and long-term care, acknowledged the resignation Friday but didn't provide a reason for Sapsford's departure.

Instead, Matthews thanked Sapsford for his "dedicated commitment to improving the health care for Ontario families."

"As deputy minister of health, he has helped make measurable progress in the speed and quality of health care available to Ontarians," Matthews said in a statement, also crediting Sapsford for helping improve access to front-line health care.

The resignation is effective Jan. 3.

The opposition parties had demanded Sapsford quit for his role in the eHealth scandal, especially after David Caplan was forced to resign as health minister.

Scathing report
Caplan resigned last month, just one day before the auditor general released a scathing report detailing how little value Ontario got for the $1 billion spent trying to create electronic health records.

Former eHealth Ontario CEO Sarah Kramer and board chair Alan Hudson also resigned their positions in June.

Top officials from scandal-plagued eHealth, including eHealth Ontario chair Rita Burak and Sapsford, were called before the legislature's public accounts committee in October to explain the agency's use of outside consultants.

At that time, Burak said taxpayers deserved an apology for the scandal, which involved awarding of hundreds of millions of dollars in untendered contracts to consultants, but stopped short of actually providing one.

She also told the committee eHealth had trimmed the number of consultants to 286 in September from 385 last spring, and promised that number would be reduced to 160 by next spring.

Sapsford said then he didn't see any reason why he should resign, and noted the government was looking into only one contract, valued at $1 million.

He also took issue with opposition claims that all of the money spent so far on electronic health records has been wasted.


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Police officer charged in Sarnia

SARNIA, Ont. — A Sarnia police officer, already before the court on other criminal matters, has been arrested and charged with sexual offences.

The charges were laid following an investigation by Chatham-Kent Police Service, Sarnia police said Wednesday.

The unnamed officer is charged with two counts of sexual assault and two counts of sexual interference, a Criminal Code offence involving an alleged victim under the age of 14.

Sarnia police said the officer’s name has not been released to protect the identity of the alleged victims.

The officer has been remanded in custody and will appear for a bail hearing in Chatham, Ont. on Thursday.

The Sun

$1M in untendered contracts tied to top health official

Tuesday, November 10, 2009 | 9:19 PM ET
The Canadian Press

Untendered contracts totalling $1 million were awarded by the province to a consulting firm whose top executive was later appointed as one of the government's top health bureaucrats, The Canadian Press has learned.

Helen Stevenson, the assistant deputy minister and executive officer of Ontario's Public Drug Programs, was hired as a consultant in 2005 by the Health Ministry when she was president of Savattuq Inc., a government spokesman confirmed late Tuesday.

Between June 2005 and June 2007, the government gave Savattuq three sole-sourced contracts totalling just over $1 million, according to the provincial public accounts.

Stevenson was hired, in her capacity as a consultant, to head up the province's drug system secretariat, whose purpose was to develop and implement new strategies to manage the province's drug costs, said Health Ministry spokesman David Jensen.

More specifically, the secretariat was charged with producing a "plan of action" that would set directions for the province's drug system, including the Ontario Drug Benefits Program, over five to 10 years, Jensen said in an email.

The three contracts to Savattuq were sole-sourced "given the urgent need to move forward with transformational changes to the drug program," he said.

Those changes led to legislation — the Transparent Drug System for Patients Act — which has saved the province almost $700 million over two years, he said.

Contracts allowed at the time, government says
At the time, untendered contracts were permitted, Jensen said.

Premier Dalton McGuinty changed those rules recently after millions in untendered contracts at eHealth Ontario were brought to light.

Stevenson was appointed assistant deputy minister on June 14, 2007, after an open competition, and took over the executive director job from deputy minister of health Ron Sapsford, Jensen said.

The contract with Stevenson, who makes $275,717 a year in her current job plus $473.28 in benefits, was cancelled after her appointment, he said.

Ivan Langrish, a spokesman for Health Minister Deb Matthews, acknowledged that the contracts were sole-sourced.

"I think it's actually really a good thing," he said.

"We took someone basically from the private sector, had them then join the public sector to undergo basically a transformation of our drug strategy and look what we've managed to do. What we've managed to do is save some $700 million."

News of this latest untendered contract comes in the aftermath of a spending scandal over electronic health records at eHealth, where millions of dollars went out the door in untendered contracts.

The government is also looking to cut costs in an effort to tame a projected $24.7 billion deficit this year — the largest in the province's history.

NDP pans consultant 'addiction'
The Savattuq contracts and Stevenson's promotion raise serious questions about whether the governing Liberals are hiding a secret agenda to slash drug benefits, said NDP Leader Andrea Horwath.

The government is still concealing an untendered, $750,000 report by McKinsey & Co. into cost-cutting for generic drugs, which could end up cutting drug benefits to seniors and welfare recipients, Horwath said.

"It seems to me that it's just another example of this addiction that the government has to hiring consultants," Horvath added.

Langrish insists the government isn't looking to cut drug benefits with the McKinsey report.

"It has nothing to do with that," he said. "It's really trying to reduce the costs of generic drugs, reducing those costs as much as we possibly can because we're paying too much for drugs here."

The governing Liberals may think the Savattuq contracts were good value for money, but taxpayers are tired of seeing them bend the rules, said Progressive Conservative health critic Christine Elliott.

"Everything in health can presumably be said to be urgent because there are many pressing matters," she said.

"But the rules still need to be followed. The end doesn't justify the means."

Matthews has declined to make the McKinsey report public, saying the gist of its findings can be found on slides posted on the her ministry's website.

Those are based on a July presentation by Sapsford, which talks about delivering value for money in the provincial drug system, but makes no reference to McKinsey or the agency's recommendations.

A call to Stevenson's office for comment was not immediately returned Tuesday