Ontario Attorney General Yasir Naqvi Evades Responsibility for His Role in Release of Constable Daniel Montsion without Bail Hearing
Ontario Attorney General Yasir Naqvi’s Senior Coordinator for Media Relations, Emilie Smith, contacted Ottawa Life Magazine’s Publisher and Managing Editor Dan Donovan on behalf of Naqvi requesting the magazine change its story regarding the role he and his Ministry played in the release of Constable Daniel Montsion on March 6 without a bail hearing. Naqvi wanted the story changed to leave the impression that he had nothing to do with the release. Ottawa Life Magazine refused the request when Naqvi’s spokesperson refused to answer questions about his knowledge or involvement in the special treatment afforded Ottawa Police Services Constable Montsion who is charged with manslaughter in the brutal and violent killing of Ottawa resident Abdirahman Abdi last summer.
In her email on behalf of Naqvi, Smith says “the criminal code authorized the release of Montsion” suggesting that Naqvi and the Ministry had no role in the process. Smith wrote that the decision for the release of a Policeman accused of manslaughter to not have to attend a bail hearing was made by the officer-in-charge of the case. She refused to answer questions regarding why Naqvi did nothing to stop the release of Constable Montsion without a bail hearing when he knew in advance that it was going to happen. When asked if he could confirm that he knew in advance that Constable Montsion would be released on a manslaughter charge without a bail hearing, Smith refused to answer the question.
Ottawa Life Magazine then contacted Carleton Criminology and Criminal Justice Professor Darryl Davies who is an expert in police and criminal procedures for an opinion on Naqvi’s role and responsibilities in the matter. Davies told the publication that, “given the fact that a very serious charge under the Criminal Code of Canada has been laid against a police officer are the people in the Attorney General department so myopic that they think it’s appropriate that a senior police officer should exercise his/her powers as a peace officer to release Cst Montsion. What message does this send to the public? Where is the logic in a senior police officer approving the release of another police officer? In the past, we have had police investigating other police and now we have the ultimate absurdity by having police releasing other police charged with serious crimes. How many times in the past fifty years in this province has a senior police officer intervened to release a private citizen facing similar charges? Name one case?”
Ottawa Life Magazine checked and could not find a single case.
Davies went on to say that “the community of Ottawa is reeling from the emotional and highly charged circumstances involving this case. One would think that the Attorney General's department would have enough sense to take every precaution possible to ensure that the officer is treated in exactly the same manner as any private citizen would be treated who was facing a similar charge under the Criminal Code of Canada”.
Naqvi continues to refuse to answer questions posed by Ottawa Life Magazine about his role and the role of his Ministry in agreeing to the release of Montsion with appearing in court first. Darryl Davies told Ottawa Life that, “instead of a squeaky clean process what we see happening is blatant bias favouring the officer before his case has even got to court. This doesn't pass the smell test”.
In a related article, Ottawa criminal lawyer Doug Baum told the CBC that he can't recall a case in the twenty years he has been practicing law where a private citizen who was charged with manslaughter or any other serious criminal offence for that matter was able to avoid a bail hearing.
Darryl Davies says that, “once again we find this duplicitous mentality that is at the root of our problems when it comes to problem policing in Ontario. People are not going to stand by any longer and allow these sweetheart deals to protect cops who are charged with crimes. It is sheer stupidity that non-elected and elected officials like Yasir Naqvi, who is the Attorney General of Ontario think that they can use their powers to treat cops charged with manslaughter differently and that it won't be seen as overt corruption by the victim's family and the residents of Ontario. What it does plain and simple is bring the administration of justice into disrepute”.
When asked if he could see any case where a person charged with murder or manslaughter should not appear before a judge before being released, Davies said that “regardless of what Naqvi and his myrmidons claim there is no justification for allowing Montsion to avoid a bail hearing when such a courtesy is not extended to a private citizen who is facing manslaughter charges. The people who countenance this should be fired as they are the reason people have so little trust in our justice system”