Justice Minister Frank Quennell puts all his eggs in one basket and publicly aligns himself with doers of malice
Political suicide? We anticipate we will be posting his political obit: But No!
November 18, 2004:We were wrong! Once Quennell got his bearings he has been working his way out of the incredible mess left for him by previous administrations. On the Stonechild report, the Martensville settlements and his disclosure of the non-confidential aspects of the Klassen/Kvello settlements her has taken necessary steps to assure us that he is no longer interested in perpetuating cover-ups.
This page serves as the career obit to Don McKillop who we have for many years identified as a less than stand-up officer of the court.
Now that Quennell has disentangled himself from McKillop, we are ready to give him some room to breathe. But he didn't.
Editorial:Telling the truth about the undefamable: McKillop and Quennell, the static duo
I went to the dictionary to find just the right word, the opposite of dynamic, to describe this pair. And there it was. Static.
My hyper dictionary tells me that the word "static" has four different senses:
Not active or moving.
Not in physical motion.
Showing little if any change.
event : A crackling or hissing noise cause by electrical interference.
They are not budging and they are not saying anything intelligent. Irritating noise.
Last Thursday, two days after Saskatoon Police Chief Russell Sabo apologized to the Klassens and Kvellos on behalf of the Saskatoon Police Service, for any damage which was done to them by the actions of his police force, the pressure was on the Saskatchewan government to do likewise.
A press conference was announced. Representatives from the Regina press corps hauled their equipment and notebooks down to one of the legislative building where they were promised a "scrum" with the new minister of Justice, Frank Quennell. It didn't matter that Quennell is from Saskatoon, that the lawsuit was heard in Saskatoon, and that Richard Klassen is in Saskatoon. This was to be a big deal government thing.
What actually happened was something quite different from what had been promised. Quennell did not read his prepared statement until Don McKillop, the government lawyer who represented the two remaining defendants, Carol Bunko-Ruys and Prosecutor Matt Miazga, blathered on for a full twenty minutes in condescending tone, sounding like that boring high school teacher that we used to tune out as we stared out the window, knowing we could always borrow somebody else's notes to see if anything important was being said.
The important thing that was being said, it seems, was that McKillop had filed an appeal on behalf of his clients. One brave reporter, who was up to speed on the case, asked if he was not obliged to go through the damages portion of the trial before any appeal could be filed.
Well, no, Mr. McKillop said. He would speak to the learned judges at the Appeal Court on January 28 and explain to them that it was more sensible to proceed the way he was proceeding.
2. In the event that a judgment is rendered that makes a finding of liability in the action against any of the Defendants, the appeal period with respect to such judgment shall be stayed pending agreement on damages and costs.
Issued at Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, this 28th day of March, 2003
He made it quite clear, sitting in front of the Saskatchewan colours, hands clasped on the oak table, that the learned appeal court judges would appreciate that any agreement he had made with a Queen's Bench judge in Saskatoon during the pretrial process was not really sensible, that there were errors in the judgment of the trial judge, another Queen's Bench judge in Saskatoon, and blah, blah, blah.
Contempt of the court.
Then he allowed the Justice Minister to read his statement.
No apology. Quennell went further. He had represented clients when Miazga was a prosecutor and he simply could not believe that Miazga would ever act maliciously. His understanding of malice seemed to be that it had to be a personal grudge. That Miazga had somehow deliberately targetted the Klassens and Kvellos and set out to do them harm. Nah. Not the fine, upstanding guy he'd done legal jousting with in his days before the bar. Not our Matt.
But think again.
Miazga knew right well that Brian Dueck had targetted all the members of the Klassen and Kvello extended family once he got wind of Peter Klassen's conviction for sexual interference with two adolescent girls in 1989. Miazga may not have known them personally but he certainly set out to do them personal harm. The impersonality of the prosecution makes it all the more horrifying. The public has now had an opportunity to read Judge George Baynton's judgment; it is clear that anyone who was vulnerable by virtue of having a convicted family member or relatives who took in damaged foster children was fair game for this conspiring trio.
In all the excitement about the findings for malicious prosecution, let us not lose sight of Judge Baynton's findings that the three defendants conspired to carry out their malicious acts. That they decieved their superiors. That they advanced their careers. And, that they set the stage and prepared the groundwork for the Martensville malicious prosecutions which resulted in the longest and most expensive criminal proceedings this province has yet seen.
Here is a sampling of the editorial opinion flowing from McKillop's and Quennell's press conference last Thursday:
Explain how it is that when it is obvious to everybody what happened here, the provincial government does not get it.
The ruthlessness of the persecution of the Klassen people seemed even to stun the judge.
The truth was put into a dark closet.
The government is running the lives of almost one million people in Saskatchewan. They got to run our lives for another four years by using fear against the voters in the election of Nov. 5. They made the voter afraid of what would happen to the province if they ever allowed the Saskatchewan Party to get into office.
"Trust us," the government said.
The people did, just the way Richard Klassen trusted the justice system and figured he would get a fair hearing. It took more than a decade before he was fully able to feel vindicated. And for this, he gets no apology from the government.
The NDP, the party that wants everybody to believe it is the only party of social conscience, is looking like a government that now into its fourth straight term of office is dead. It looks like a government that has risen above everybody and has lost touch.
Great! - - Bob Hughes, Leader-Post, January 12
It is crystal clear from Baynton's decision that the justice system failed these people.
The truth is that the 12 were victims of police and prosecutors who saw patterns of behaviour that simply weren't there. The 12 were victims of a collective tunnel vision and a severe breakdown of the justice process. Senior officials at the Regina head office, detached from the investigation, failed properly to review the case before the charges were laid.
So, the government's call here should have been simple. The right thing to do was not hard to see.
The first words out of Quennell's mouth on Thursday should have been: "I'm sorry." Richard Klassen and the others are clearly owed an apology for his department's failings.
Instead, we heard Quennell stress that "no apology" would be forthcoming.
"It's not the position -- or practical -- for my office to be extending apologies where prosecutions don't proceed," Quennell explained to reporters in Regina. "That's how the system works."
Well, frankly, sir, the system didn't work. Your office failed these 12 people. And instead of being honest and forthright Quennell and his department continue to stonewall on any admission that they could possibly have made a mistake.
Arrogance. -- Murray Mandryk, Leader Post, January 10
Given its poor track record for respecting the individual rights of its citizens and keeping the powers of its police and prosecutors in check, the Klassens' exoneration would have been a perfect opportunity for the provincial government and its new Justice Minister, Frank Quennell, to display a fresh commitment to doing the right thing. A simple apology for a decade of wrongfully persecuting the Klassens as pedophiles would have gone a long way.
By instead calling for an appeal that will again haul the wronged Klassen family back into court, Saskatchewan has reaffirmed its reputation as a government more concerned with saving face and its own authority than with the people it is charged to protect.
-- National Post, January 10
What the government really needs to do is to conduct a thorough review of its Justice Department to see what has led to such embarrassing and credibility-eroding prosecutions as Martensville, Latimer, Milgaard and Nerland and take steps to fix them.
Instead, what a government that's spending millions to improve the province's image across Canada delivers is the spectacle of a "justice" minister telling a dozen people whose lives his officials have ruined that he has no plans even to apologize to them, let alone atone for the misery they've been put through.
How much the government is in touch with public sentiment on this issue was demonstrated by its initial decision to have Quennell, a Saskatoon MLA dealing with an issue with a huge impact on this city, announce the province's response in a press conference at the lobby of the CIC building in Regina, where Saskatoon media wouldn't have access to the minister.
Skeptics would even question the timing of the announcement, which coincided with the release of the Boughen report on education funding and which would preoccupy Regina media less familiar with the Klassen judgment.
However, by dragging out this case, the government only focuses more public attention on a troubled justice system that needs to be fixed -- and fast.
--StarPhoenix, January 9
Justice Minister Quennell is taking the heat for McKillop's strategy and well he should. Richard Klassen has filed a complaint with the Law Society of Saskatchewan regarding McKillop's conduct.
It was clear to us, and we have stated it several times on this website, that McKillop used every trick in the book to defeat Richard Klassen once Klassen took over his own defence. McKillop came to court expecting Klassen to fold under the burden of carrying his case through trial. Klassen did not fold. He did not even falter.
As McKillop stated at the press conference, he is a government employee. In other words, he is legal counsel to the government. He has been giving very bad counsel.
Quennell should never have allowed himself to be led by the nose by this smooth-talking devil. Public opinion has already impeached him metaphorically. Full impeachment is surely on its way. For Quennell and the whole crew of them who have been looking to Donald McKillop for direction.
--Sheila Steele, January 14, 2003