Justice minister asks for investigation of lawyers after they admit to tailing Manitoba judge

Manitoba’s justice minister has written to the provincial law society requesting it investigate the conduct of lawyers working with an organization that hired a private investigator to follow a judge.

“It is gravely concerning that a private investigator was hired to conduct surveillance of a member of the judiciary, ostensibly to embarrass or intimidate the judge,” Cameron Friesen said in a statement Thursday.

Read more: Group fighting COVID-19 restrictions admits tailing Manitoba judge

Friesen said that as attorney general of Manitoba, he has asked the Law Society of Manitoba to initiate an investigation into the lawyers with the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms.

The centre is representing a group of churches in Manitoba that are challenging COVID-19 public health orders.

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Click to play video: 'Group fighting COVID-19 restrictions admits tailing Manitoba judge' Group fighting COVID-19 restrictions admits tailing Manitoba judge

Group fighting COVID-19 restrictions admits tailing Manitoba judge

John Carpay stepped down as president of the Justice Centre this week after admitting in court to hiring a private investigator to follow the judge presiding over that case.

Friesen said he is gravely concerned by the actions of the centre and wants the lawyers involved to be held accountable.

Read more: Head of Justice Centre taking leave after hiring investigator to trail Manitoba judge

“This is an obvious invasion of privacy and it is difficult to believe that these actions were not intended to influence the outcome of the court case,” he said.

The Justice Centre’s board said they were not aware of Carpay’s actions.

Click to play video: 'Head of Justice Centre taking leave after hiring investigator to trail Manitoba judge' Head of Justice Centre taking leave after hiring investigator to trail Manitoba judge

Head of Justice Centre taking leave after hiring investigator to trail Manitoba judge

Jay Cameron, another lawyer representing the Justice Centre in the challenge, told the court he was not involved in the decision to hire the investigator but had known about it for a couple of weeks.

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The Law Society of Manitoba said earlier this week that it is looking into what happened, but would not comment on specifics of the case because investigations and complaints are confidential.

Read more: Using Manitoba judge for political agenda disgraceful, says local lawyer

The Law Society of Alberta, which would be Carpay’s regulator, would not say whether there’s an investigation into his actions.

An Ottawa human rights lawyer confirmed he had filed a professional misconduct complaint with the society against Carpay, as well as against two other lawyers with the Justice Centre.

Click to play video: 'Bar Association reacts to private investigator hiring' Bar Association reacts to private investigator hiring

Bar Association reacts to private investigator hiring

© 2021 The Canadian Press

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