Statement from the Justice Centre: John Carpay innocent of criminal wrongdoing, charges stayed

On October 27, 2023, Manitoba Crown Prosecutors stayed the criminal charges they had brought against Alberta lawyer and Justice Centre president John Carpay for intimidation (Criminal Code section 423) and obstructing justice (Criminal Code section 139).  

It was more than two years ago that Mr. Carpay apologized for having made an error in judgment by having included a judge in the passive surveillance of government officials. The sole purpose and intent of this passive surveillance in 2021 was to attempt to determine the veracity, or lack thereof, of rumours that Manitoba government officials (including judges) were not complying with the Covid restrictions which they themselves had placed on the people of Manitoba. During lockdowns, media reported that many government officials across Canada did not follow Covid restrictions.

The decision of the Crown to stay the charges reflects the fact that there was never any criminal wrongdoing on the part of Mr. Carpay. There was nothing criminal about Mr. Carpay’s error in judgment. There was never any intent to interfere with the course of justice or with the judicial process.

More than 17 months after this passive surveillance had taken place, Mr. Carpay was unexpectedly arrested on December 30, 2022, and spent 23 hours in jail during his Christmas holidays.

Lawyers in Manitoba and across Canada routinely hire private investigators, particularly in the practice of family law and insurance law. Crown Prosecutors know that there is nothing criminal about operating a private investigation business, or retaining a private investigator, or conducting passive surveillance. It is worth noting that no criminal charges were filed against the private investigators who conducted surveillance on the judge and on other government officials.

Further to a court appearance on Friday October 27, Mr. Carpay has entered into a civil Peace Bond Order through which he has agreed not to practice law for three years, and by which Mr. Carpay also agreed not to contact the Manitoba judge Glenn Joyal for three years. Mr. Carpay has never contacted this judge previously, apart from writing a letter of apology in October 2021. Mr. Carpay is already an inactive (non-practicing) lawyer, and will continue to carry out his responsibilities with the Justice Centre as he has been doing since 2010: fundraising, media relations, public speaking, and writing articles and columns.

Depriving a man of his liberty and of the company of his family and friends, particularly during his short Christmas vacation, was extremely stressful for Mr. Carpay and his family. It appears that these charges were brought against Mr. Carpay for political reasons, in an attempt to intimidate him.

Upon his release from prison on December 31, 2022, Mr. Carpay stated in a short video: “I am not going to be intimidated, and I’m going to keep on speaking out against … all the violations of our rights and freedoms.”

Mr. Carpay has borne the costs of paying for his own legal defence, and no Justice Centre funds have been expended in respect of this matter.

Mr. Carpay is extremely grateful for the encouragement and for the financial assistance which he has personally received from citizens across Canada who have supported him during the past nine months as he defended himself against these criminal charges.

Those wishing to donate to Mr. Carpay personally, to help pay off $20,000 in outstanding legal bills, are welcome to donate at Give-Send-Go.

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