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An abusive MOE prosecution has been thrown out of court, with costs. Roger Arcand was charged with providing the MOE with false information concerning a municipal water system. The City pled guilty, but Arcand insisted on his innocence and repeatedly demanded particulars and disclosure of the charges against him.

 

Man throwing papers

The MOE was slow and reluctant in providing particulars and disclosure; its principal response was to lay 26 additional charges against Arcand, and to serve notice that it was seeking a jail term. It also tried to deprive him of his legal counsel shortly before trial. In summary, the judge said, “in light of the entire conduct of the prosecution” there was “a credible probability of prosecutorial misconduct”. He stayed all charges, and ordered the Crown to pay Mr. Arcand’s legal costs. This decision has now been strongly affirmed, on appeal, by the Superior Court of Justice.

In another case, a Ministry investigator was convicted of assault for aggressive conduct when serving a summons.

This sort of prosecutorial excess, an apparent determination to obtain a conviction at any costs, was supposed to be prevented by having all government prosecutors part of the Ministry of Attorney General, rather than part of the individual ministries that they serve. However, the risk remains.

One moral of the story is that, although it is difficult and expensive, it is sometimes possible to get redress when MOE enforcement staff push their zeal too far.

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