Last year Fred Poirier filed a suit against the local Community Futures Development Corporation claiming malicious prosecution. They managed to get the first judge to dismiss the case by lying and manipulating the paper work. The three actual charges were malicious prosecution, false accusation and interfering with economic interest of his company. He then appealed that judge's decision to the provincial court of appeal. The three judges set aside the Justice Lander dismissal. They also reinstated all of the above claims/charges. In addition they ordered Community Futures to pay of Fred's costs relating to the appeal they also commented that it was about time someone stepped up to the plate and looked in to these organizations.
The suit will now proceed. (Scroll to bottom of the page for picture)
"Secret Commission" case has been heard in B.C. Appeal court
A reply after seven months of waiting
When Fred Poirier and David Love applied for a grant from a government funding agency, they didn't expect to be arrested and faced with charges generally reserved for war time traitors. Their reputations were defamed in the community where they live. They were charged with bribing public officials, not a popular tag to have attached to you if you are trying to do business in the community.
They were vindicated by a judge but that is not enough for Poirier who is getting ready to sue for malicious prosecution.
The judgment, which is short, to the point and sweet
Two North Island men have won the latest battle in an ongoing war with the Community Futures Development Corporation of Mount Waddington.
Judge Brian Saunderson ruled Friday in the Port Hardy courtroom to dismiss a charge of accepting a secret commission against Fred Poirier of Hyde Creek and David Love of Port MacNeill.
After Crown counsel David Fitzsimmons of Campbell River finished presenting his case Thursday, defence lawyer Tony Managh moved Friday to have the charge thrown out.
The Calgary attorney alleged the Crown had not presented enough evidence to support the accusation. The charge was based on an allegation the pair threatened to expose irregularities by Community Futures of Mount Waddington (CFMW) if Development Corporation manager Steven Evans if he did not help Love to get a loan from CFMW.
Evans testified Thursday in a continuation of a trial by judge, which began several months ago in Port Hardy.
Without admitting there was extortion, Managh argued the allegation was much closer to that criminal charge than to accepting a secret commission, a charge that is rarely used.
"Criminal law can't be strained to fit square pegs into round holes," Managh argued.
An essential element in accepting a secret commission is secrecy, noted Managh, who argued that Poirier and Love instead sought to publicize what they felt were Community Futures irregularities.
The judge agreed in spite of Fitzsimmon's attempt to counter Managh's reasoning. Saunderson said he could find no evidence that Love and Poirier profited from their dealings with Evans.
"There's only about a one-percent chance that this type of evidence will be successful," Managh said after the ruling.
"It basically means the Crown didn't have a case from Day One.
"I never did anything wrong," Poirier insisted after learning the charges had been dropped. "The day I do something wrong, they can charge me."
Poirier contends the Development Corporation funded out-of-work fisherman to compete with his Port MacNeill sawmill, putting him out of business.
Love sought a loan from Community Futures so he could turn some wood from Poirier's company Twin Peak Contracting into marketable products.
Love said he regrets not getting to present a defence because he would have liked to clear his name.
An undertaking by Poirier and Love to avoid Community Futures offices and functions has been lifted.
PORT HARDY - After two and a half days of Crown testimony and defence cross-examination, judge Brian Saunderson threw out bribery charges against Fred Poirier and David Love, December 7 in provincial court here.
"The Crown failed to provide convincing evidence on two parts of the charge . . .case dismissed," said the judge at about noon on Friday, December 7.
The ruling is the latest chapter in a war of words which has been waged by Poirier and Love against the Community Futures Development Corporation of Mt. Waddington for almost two years. For Poirier and Love, and their lawyer, Anthony Managh, it was a day of vindication.
"I never did anything wrong, so they should not have charged me," said Poirier outside the courtroom. Her said that Commuity Futures directors created the problems and then fired former executive director Wayne Evans when he tried to deal with them.
Love expanded on that statement. "I feel vindicated that we have won without even having to present our defence," he said. "The judge saw through the falseness of the allegations."
Managh was somewhat surprised that the no evidence motion succeeded. "This type of motion is only successful about one per cent of the time, which shows just how weak their case was," he said outside court.
Poirier and Love were charged in the summer of 2000, under a section of the criminal code that carries a penalty of up to five years in jail for anyone who "corruptly offers reward, advantage or benefits to an agent in return for showing favour, or forbearing to show disfavour, to any person with relation to the affairs or business of his principal."
During the first day of the trial on June 6, 2001, former Community Futures executive (article is clipped at this point) Lorier Cedar Products. If he did that, Evans said, Poirier and Love offered to help him keep his job.
Evans did recommend the loan, but it was not approved by the board. Instead, he was "laid off."
Two other Crown witnesses testified during the trial when it resumed on December 6. Community Futures business analyst Kris Johnson and Community Futures administrative assistant Barbara Dunbar. Neither testimony was presented prominently in Managh's motion for a dismissal.
One of Managh's winning arguments centred around the word "corruptly" in the charge. Quoting a Supreme Court precedent, Managh argued that "corruptly" translates into "secrecy" in this case.
"That's the key . . . there must be secrecy," he said. "There is no evidence . . . that anything was done, offered, accepted or given secretly. In fact the evidence of the Crown witnesses is the opposite of that."
During cross-examination, Managh asked Evans if he had kept anything secret from the board. Evans replied that Poirier and Love had urged him to take the matter to his board.
Managh's other winning point was made by arguing the Crown had not proven that Evans was offered a benefit. According to the Supreme Court case quoted, that's a prerequisite for a bribery charge, said the defence lawyer.
Senior Crown counsel David Fitzsimmons from Campbell River disagreed with the importance of the precedent cited by Managh. "Each case turns on its own facts," he said.
"What Mr. Love and Mr. Poirier offered Mr. Evans is set out in the transcript," Fitzsimmons said. "If they did get the money they were going to ensure his employment. Mr. Love and Mr. Poirier weren't acting as amateur journalists, they weren't acting as whistle blowers, they were trying to get a place at the trough."
The judge pointed to the Crown's evidence and said the actions of Love and Poirier were anything but secret, as they took their case to CBC Radio, federal government officials and the local newspaper.
As well, Saunderson said offering Evans a job he already had didn't qualify as a benefit. "Mr. Evans already had the benefit, the job," he said.
Fred to the right of Kris Johnsen, Business analyst, no longer of community futures of mount waddington and Cathy Denham, then manager and now General manager of community futures.
This all started of the legal ownership of said logging equipment that is in storage in the background.
Miss Cathy Denham always claimed she did not know the story behind this piece of equipment that they stole from Fred.