TORONTO — Former Conservative cabinet minister and provincial police commissioner Julian Fantino has accused a Canadian judge, lawyers and several police forces of acting improperly and even illegally in the conviction and jailing of a man for contempt of court.
In an extensive affidavit in which he raises the allegations, Fantino describes himself as a member of the Queen’s Privy Council and an expert who, in speaking for regular Canadians, can shed light on what he essentially posits as a possible judicial conspiracy involving secret backroom dealings.
Fantino filed the affidavit in an unsuccessful effort to intervene in a recent Federal Court review of whether the Canadian Judicial Council properly dismissed a complaint by Donald Best, a former Toronto police officer and businessman, against Ontario Superior Court Justice Bryan Shaughnessy.
“A more thorough investigation by the (judicial council), now that all the facts are known, may show that the judge was wilfully blind,” Fantino asserts. “It may very well be that the record belies the mischief that was being achieved simply because the judge had total control over the process.”
In 2013, Shaughnessy found Best in civil contempt. The finding was the culmination of a convoluted battle started in 2007, when Best’s corporation unsuccessfully sued 62 defendants and he failed to pay their court-ordered legal costs.
Shaughnessy’s rulings were upheld by Ontario’s top court and left undisturbed by the Supreme Court of Canada.
Best turned to the Canadian Judicial Council in January 2016 to complain about the judge. Shaughnessy, he asserted, had engaged in “egregious” misconduct by, among other things, “secretly” changing a critical document.
The council’s executive director rejected the complaint out of hand, prompting Best to ask Federal Court to review that decision. He named the government and judge as respondents.
Fantino, who could not be immediately reached for comment, explains in his 33-page affidavit filed along with 100 exhibits why he wanted to get involved. The “abuses,” he said, could undermine public confidence in the administration of justice.
“I notice that, in this matter, no one represents the people of Canada,” Fantino states. “No one speaks for me and other Canadians who believe in and rely upon fairness, courtesy and honourable treatment within the justice system.”
In his submission, Fantino maintains that Shaughnessy convicted Best “upon the presentation by lawyers of provably false evidence.” He also argues that “disturbing” evidence suggests police resources and personnel were “improperly retained, used and co-opted” to help one side in the private civil dispute.
“The court also convicted Mr. Best based upon affidavit evidence that was the product of illegal actions by a serving officer of the Ontario Provincial Police at the time that I was OPP commissioner,” Fantino states. “Had I known about it at the time, I would have immediately ordered an investigation to gather all evidence…with a view to possible provincial and/or criminal charges.”
In October, a Federal Court official dismissed Fantino’s motion to intervene in the review of how the judicial council handled Best’s judge complaint. Fantino, a former minister for veteran’s affairs, chief of police, and now an executive with a medical marijuana company, had raised issues that were out of bounds, the official decided.
Fantino appealed his exclusion but the court nevertheless went ahead in the fall with its long-scheduled review of the judicial council’s actions.
For his part, Shaughnessy urged the court to defer to the council, arguing in part that Best’s complaint was manifestly “without substance” or “an abuse of process.” He also argued Best had tried to “impute bad faith into a decision he disagrees with, so as to define it as sanctionable conduct.”
This month, Federal Court Judge Keith Boswell agreed with Ottawa and Shaughnessy that the judicial council’s decision was reasonable. Boswell dismissed Best’s application and ordered him to pay the federal government and the judge $30,000 in legal costs.
Best did not want to discuss Fantino’s involvement when reached on Friday. In a recent statement on his website, he did say Boswell’s decision contained “gross errors.” He filed notice of appeal this week.
In an unusual decision in June 2016, the Ontario Court of Appeal ordered Best’s prominent Toronto lawyer Paul Slansky to pay $84,000 in legal costs for his client’s failed legal fights.
The court found Slansky had wasted time and money unnecessarily by “acting on unreasonable instructions from, or providing unreasonable advice to, his client.” The court also ordered Slansky to pay another $30,000 in costs.