A date for a pre-enquete hearing in the criminal proceeding has been set for August 28, 2018. It will take place in the PEI provincial court, with Chief Judge Nancy Orr presiding. The following document was issued this past week:
As the document notes, the Pre-enquete is “in camera” and “ex parte”. The sole purpose of the hearing is to provide an opportunity to Chief Judge Nancy Orr to make a proper determination on whether the evidence is likely to lead to a conviction if “process” is issued. If that decision is made, a summons will be issued to compel Robert Ghiz to answer the charge of committing “mischief to data” contrary to s. 430(5)(a) of the Criminal Code of Canada when he ordered government documents destroyed.
As I indicated in my last article on this matter [Criminal Proceeding Initiated against Robert Ghiz] the Crown can (but shouldn’t):
(1) Issue a stay of proceedings at any time, even before the hearing is heard; or, if the hearing takes place and the judge decides to issue process in the matter – thereby turning this “proceeding” into a formal “prosecution”
(2) Step in and take over the case, and, if so desired, “drop the charges,” regardless of how strong the evidence may be that a crime was committed.
No matter how things turn out, I will be posting the very same legal brief (with links to all the supporting documents upon which the arguments and factual claims in the brief will rely) as I will be presenting to Judge Orr at the hearing on August 28. I want everyone to have access to the evidence so they can decide for themselves whether it makes a compelling case that a crime was indeed committed.
Most people who have contacted me about this legal proceeding – and there have been many – have expressed the opinion that no matter how strong the case might be, it won’t matter in the end, because there’s a different system of justice at work in PEI when it comes to senior government bureaucrats and former politicians – namely, “no justice at all”. The prevalence of this cynical and debilitating public opinion is part of the reason why I have initiated this action as a private prosecutor: I want to “test” this well-entrenched assumption. It may be true, but it might not be true as well. I personally trust Chief Judge Orr will exercise her duties in a professional and competent manner; not so much with the Attorney General and Crown.
I will also – at some point – be documenting in a separate article how my efforts to get straightforward answers to simple questions from various public servants who have direct knowledge of matters relevant to this criminal proceeding have been – are being – and will likely continue to be – “frustrated” as these civil servants (and I use the word “civil” somewhat begrudgingly) either: (a) ignore my emails and/or telephone messages; (b) give misleading and unhelpful information if they do respond; or (c) provide carefully-scripted answers which read like textbook examples of how to make it sound like you’re answering a question while saying absolutely nothing at all.
A common response is “…the proper route to take to obtain the information you are seeking is to submit a FOIPP request,” even when the information is in no way “protected”. To use a simple analogy to illustrate what I mean… imagine stopping at a local garage in an unfamiliar, small rural town and asking the garage attendant how to get to the town hall, then being stoically told that the proper way to get an answer to that question would be to buy a map of the town (after the weekend, on Monday, since the “map store” is closed since it’s late on a Friday evening), preferably the kind that identifies major “landmarks” in the town . Geez….thanks for nothing buddy!
The culture of “secrecy and cover-up” is as thick as tar in the higher echelons of the PEI Liberal government…. but the culture of “silence and fear” among lower-level, rank-and- file government employees is even thicker. You could piss your pants waiting for an administrative assistant to find out if you’re allowed to use the government employee bathroom as you pace around in front of the bathroom door, twitching and half cross-legged with breath-holding desperation!
It seems many public servants have been so completely intimidated by their higher-ups that they fail to realize that they are often effectively “aiding and abetting” the cover-ups of the higher-ups by failing to provide assistance to ordinary Islanders. It’s like they’ve completely forgotten where their paychecks come from…that they’re “public” servants, not servants to the politicians and senior bureaucrats doing the covering-up.
I’m not without some sympathy for their situations though – lower-level government employees know all too well that the higher-ups have the power to make their lives miserable, and can easily find clever ways to “downsize” them right out of a government job if they give them enough reason to do so.
At any rate, whenever I don’t receive what I have a right to receive by way of information that would be helpful in preparing for the hearing, I’m documenting those incidents for my article. I usually go the next step by taking it one step higher on the government hierarchical ladder, making the same request to a more senior government employee. It often happens that I go as high as I can and still don’t get a satisfactory answer, essentially putting me back at the start, after wasting a lot of time and exerting considerable fruitless effort….it’s a bit like a real-life game of “snakes and ladders”: and unfortunately, there appears to be a lot more “snakes” than ladders within the current Liberal government.