Putting the pants on the truth so it can chase a lie across the province (paraphrased from Al Giordano)
Amy Jo Ehman: On Thursday, Robert Borden presented former CBC journalist Amy Jo Ehman as a rebuttal witness to Superintendant Brian Dueck's claim that he bore no malicious intent toward members of the Klassen and Kvello families on July 10, 1991 when he laid over 100 charges against them alleging they had ritually abused nine children. The StarPhoenix called the case "The Scandal of the Century" in its July 12 front page article.
He was a corporal at the time and Brian Dueck sought media attention for his case. On July 10, the day of the arrest, he spoke to Amy Jo Ehman and now Ehman has come forward to offer the court her recollections of the conversation she had with him.
Amy Jo Ehman is a journalist (now working freelance) and we expect she will have a clear and documented memory of that day. She contacted Robert Borden on November 3. She came to court yesterday, prepared to testify but Dueck objected. He had previously objected to any of his discussions with former Crown prosecutor Terry Hinz and had gone so far as to claim "solicitor/client privilege," his lawyer arguing that a crown prosecutor is like a private lawyer to the police. Yesterday, he said Ehman's testimony should not be heard because she came forward after the plaintiffs had already closed their case.
It took considerable courage for Ehman to come forward. There are no doubt other journalists out there who heard what Dueck had to say. Doug McConnachie from The StarPhoenix had been shut down on reporting about this case.
(Sexual Assault Charges Nightmare for pair, June 19, 1993 | Police handled investigation poorly, June 25, 1993 | Stayed charges of assault tear family apart, they say, July 23, 1993)
The StarPhoenix had, at that time made little effort to challenge the court-ordered publication bans and seals on the evidence. Editor Bill Peterson was inclined to listen to Colin Clay, who arranged one of the one day seminars Dueck has now testified he attended. The paper published many articles which had been fed to them by those who claimed to truly believe Saskatchewan was a hotbed of Satanic cult activity.
The StarPhoenix has reversed its editorial policy and is giving excellent coverage to the civil trial. Saskatchewan CBC was no less biased than The StarPhoenix back in 1993. They portrayed Richard Klassen and those who were attempting to bring the facts around the Ross children to public attention as kooks. The other television channels were just as biased. Now that Amy Jo Ehman has decided to come forward, it will be easier for other journalists to do likewise.
Doug MacConnachie was also a courageous journalist.
One of McConnachie's last stories on this case was Lawyer says charges 'travesty of justice', July 23, 1993. Robert Borden broke the traditional legal wall of silence to complain that his clients, the Kvellos, were denied justice because of bad police investigation and inadequate disclosure by the crown. Eight years later, Borden would tell CBC's The Fifth Estate that he was brought up before the Saskatchewan Law Society because of complaints regarding his public position on this case. Borden is now co-counsel for plaintiffs in the lawsuit in civil court right now and he is still the only defence lawyer in Saskatchewan to so publicly take on the Crown.
Robert Borden has shown courage.
The individual acts of courage by a journalist here, a prosecutor there and a defence lawyer taking a case to court all help chip away at a police force and Justice department which has been committing small abuses of their offices and getting away with it. Those small abuses -- a fudged information here, an undisclosed document there, and many misrepresentations to journalists -- have become a rather large pile of deliberate and careless acts which have caused many Saskatchewan citizens to receive unfair dispositions from the courts.
Lorne Calvert, who is our Premier, won the election without saying much if anything about justice. He gauged public sentiment accurately and decided Roughrider Pride would play better than the kind of pride and dignity that comes from running an honest government. Ditto to Attorney-General, Eric Cline, who stood last June in the legislature to defend his government's justice department as being better than the Americans. To them, politics and goverance are spectator sports where foul is fair as long as the umpire doesn't see it.
Early in the history of the civil case now before the courts, QB271, 1994, the Attorney General successfully applied to have himself and the Department of Social Services stuck from the claim. That has hampered the plaintiffs in getting the full story of what happened before the court and before the public.
Saskatchewan Social Services under the Grant Devine government arranged seminars for social workers which were held all over the province. These were the type which Dueck admits he attended and acknowledges that at least some social workers were present: Liz Newton and Anita Grosse, for instance. Professionals who attended these seminars were provided and Saskatchewan professionals were paid to go to them. As we chip away at the roots of the Satanic cult hysteria from which this province has not yet recovered, perhaps some more people who attended them will come forward and enlighten the rest of us about what they were doing. Dangerous fanatics like Louise Edwards were paid handsome honorariums to speak at these events. Family lawyers went to these things, too.
There has been some peeling away of the Crown's attitudes to disclosure. Through the course of this civil trial, we have seen the evolution -- and in some cases, the devolution -- of policy since before the Stinchcombe decision. Many Crown prosecutors have dropped into the trial, particularly during Matt Miazga's testimony. It is lear that none of them want to go through what Miazga is going through. We trust that this will result in closer attention to the rights of accused persons.
One name which has come up often during the trial is Thompson. It was in Lyle and Marilyn Thompson's home that Kathy and Michelle were first brought to Michael who had been placed there in December, 1989 after the Thompson's answered an ad in the paper. They had no experience as special care givers but they were game to give it a try. One can hardly imagine in this situation that they were not provided with some guidance regarding how to proceed with Michael, who sexually assaulted the child of a friend shortly after he was brought into their family. Lyle and Marilyn Thompson are the only people who can answer many questions which have been asked during the trial. Dueck claims the Saskatoon Police made a serious effort to find them but could come up with only one Marilyn Thompson, in Richmond, B.C. Duh? I could come up with the same information in five minutes on the internet. While preparing for the 2001 documentary "Scandal of the Century," CBC researchers also put in a concerted effort to find the Thompsons. They got fairly close, I was told, and then the trail went cold. Two of the Ross young adults have told me they have seen them within the last three years. My speculation is that they have been put into a "witness protection" program -- which is designed not to protect them, but to protect the defendants in the lawsuit from what they might say. Marilyn Thompson may have been driven out of her mind at times, in her role as special care giver for the Ross children, but wild and frenetic as her notes are, she seems to have been telling the truth.
We know that in 1994 when the Saskatoon police were recklessly arresting people who were complaining about Michel still being in the same home with his sisters and Dueck and Bunko-Ruys were claiming they were being "stalked", Marilyn Thompson was asked if she would like to lay a complaint. No, she said. Her complaint was not with the posterers but with Social Services.
There is still time to come forward, Marilyn. The Ross children did, and despite their embarrassment over what they had played a part in, they have all expressed that they have felt much better for having told the truth.
One more thing, Marilyn. You should bring your own counsel.
Finally, Carol Bunko-Ruys. Was it really your own idea not to testify in your own defence? It struck me as odd that the same government-hired lawyer who is defending the prosecutors are defending you. I have been extremely critical of you and your methods on this website for almost six years. What bettter place to defend your actions and explain yourself than in open court. There are already preliminary findings that you conspired maliciously with Corporal Dueck. You are entitled to defend yourself, to give an alternate theory to those we cannot help but form after having watched the videotapes and hearing others report upon their connections to you. Superintendanty Dueck was there, almost every single day, watching out for his interests, instructing his counsel. Your absence does not well serve your reputation.
Sub-sermonette on Human Resources
Social Services continues to be a law unto itself. We have been aware for some time that police officers defer to Social Services regarding issues of child apprehension. We also know that Social Service maintains its own files on people. All anyone has to do is lodge a complaint against a person and a file is opened on them. The complaint will be put there. You will not be notified that it is there. If you find out it is there, you will not be able to get it out of there. Any private investigator looking for dirt on you will have access to it. Social Services files are full of complaints made by persons against their spouses in custody disputes. Family courts accept these complaints as if they were the products of proper investigations. There are also many complaints made by jilted parties against the person who jilted him/her.
In the fullness of time, as we continue to chip away at the seeming inpenetrable wall of secret files, perhaps Social Services (now called Human Resources, an interesting and rather creepy change of name/attitude) will make its files reflect more acccurately exactly what is in them. Complaints which have not been investigated will be labelled as such, and until they have been shown to have been properly investigated and found to be true, they will not be used against anyone, whether in a custody dispute or a domestic violence allegation. This is one mechanism by which the working poor become the impoverished poor.
Human Resources indeed. The trend all over the continent (almost every jurisdiction has implemented this new nomenclature at the same time) is to view poor people as a literal resource. It is the public purse which pays for jails, youth facilities, counsellors, drug programs, etc. etc. Poor people are the resource through which all these people and agencies receive their funding. The people employed in the Human Resource industry get to be consumers of the products made by people who have jobs. The people who do not have jobs are kept busy moving from appointment to appointment with these people in order to continue receiving an amount which is not really enough to live on. Drug dealing, prostitution and petty theft fill out the balance. Rent is paid directly to slum landlords who rotate these people, collecting their security deposits and failing to return them as they evict for one reason or another and put another tenant into the freshly steamexed slum and wait until that person has reached eviction point.
Two more weeks have been added to the Stonechild Inquiry, another stage where Saskatoon life is being portrayed. We have heard so far that 17 year old Neil Stonechild was a human resource the police did not properly protect. This inquiry is being held in chandeliered ballrooms of downtown hotels, places where most poor people feel out of place. There are halls in the west end which would be more accessible and hospitable to the people who have a stake in the outcome, if not quite as comfortable for the lawyers.
Last week, the new mayor, Don Atchison announced that he was instituting a dress code for people who came to see him in his office. He backed down, he said, after finding out this interfered with a casual Fridays tradition for workers at City Hall, but of course the real reason was that he had been advised that he should not reveal his contempt for the poor quite so baldly. He ran his campaign, when he wasn't standing by the freeway waving to commuters, on a law and order platform, pledging to take over the chairmanship of the Board of Police Commissioners from Leanne Bellegarde Daniels, the first aboriginal to hold the post and a woman to boot. Yesterday, Bellegarde Daniels resigned.
Former Mayor Maddin has apparently warned that the delicate balance of police/public relations in Saskatoon could be very easily upset. It is a shame to watch the careful steps which have been put in place dismantled in one fell swoop. Organized labour will not take well to Atchison's approach to negotiating forthcoming contract if he remains true to form.
It looks like we are heading into a long, cold winter, possibly followed by a long hot summer.-- November 7, 2003