My heart goes out to Alberta provincial court judge Ray Bodnarek.
Clap one sexual assault complainant in irons, shuffle her between remand and the prelimary hearing in the same van as her alleged violent rapist, and before you know it, the sensationalistic, bleeding-heart media is blowing it out of all proportion.
The complainant was a 27-year-old aboriginal woman who’d been homeless since age 14. Lance “Romance” Blanchard of Edmonton was ultimately convicted on an assload of charges (aggravated sexual assault, kidnapping, possession of a weapon, threatening to cause death or bodily harm, etc.), after dragging her at knifepoint back to his apartment for a surprise date in 2014.
When the victim kept dozing off and otherwise annoying the court during her first day of her testimony, Judge Ray decided to lock her up under Section 545 (1) (b) of the Criminal Code, which applies to witnesses who refuse to answer questions. She remained in lockup for five days, often in close proximity with Blanchard and sharing rides with him to the courthouse on at least two occasions.
Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Eric Macklin, who ultimately convicted Blanchard last fall, felt obliged to register his WTF vis-a-vis the court’s lockup of the complainant: “Her treatment by the Justice system in this respect was appalling. She is owed an apology. Unfortunately, no apology can be extended to her as she was tragically shot and killed in an unrelated incident.”
Also much-unimpressed: Justice Minister Kathleen Ganley, who has whipped up a special committee to look into the fustercluck. Outgoing Manitoba Law Society prez Roberta Campbell will lead a separate investigation. Fee, fie, foe, fum!
What a disappointment for such the impeccably-pedigreed Bodnarek, whose qualifications for the bench, after all, were never in doubt — least of all to Justice Minister Jonathan Denis, who appointed him in 2013. Prior to his appointment, he had served as Denis’ deputy minister.
The Alberta bench, it must be said, is populated by countless such short-ranging star searches. The legendary Judge Robin “Knees Together” Camp was previously law partner to Robert Hawkes, the former Mr. Alison Redford.
Another learned former Hawkes partner, Judge Michael Savaryn, appointed to the provincial bench when Redford was Attorney General, had one of his sexual assault acquittals overturned last year on the basis of his imperfect understanding of the word “no” in a horizontal context.
Hawkes’ marital history with Premier Redford, bien sûr, had nothing to do with his partners’ judicial preferments, just as it had nothing to do with his firm scoring the juicy contract to go after tobacco manufacturers on behalf of the province, despite having come dead last on the government’s shortlist of potential litigators.
When Wild Rose research sluggos dropped freedom of information requests on the government about the woofy procurement, one high-ranking official in particular kept sticking his oar in, insisting Justice Minister Denis and his comms director be tipped off about the request and kept apprised of its progress.
The conscientious public servant in question?
Step forward, deputy minister Ray Bodnarek!