June 1, 2022
The Justice Centre is a Canadian legal organization and federally registered charity that defends citizens’ constitutional rights and freedoms under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Justice Centre represent clients free of charge and is non-partisan, non-political, non-religious and completely independent of other groups and organizations. Our defence of the free society is focused on the freedoms of conscience, religion, expression, association and peaceful assembly, as well as the right to life, liberty, and the security of the person. Since its founding 2010, the Justice Centre has operated without government funding, and carries out its mission thanks to the voluntary donations of thousands of Canadians from coast to coast.
In 2021, it was reported to the Justice Centre that key members of Manitoba’s leadership were breaching public health regulations. John Carpay, President of the Justice Centre, made the unilateral decision to hire an investigator to ascertain whether this was true.
Mr. Carpay’s decision to conduct surveillance of Manitoba government officials followed a number of high-profile instances where those who imposed and enforced lockdown restrictions were themselves found violating their own rules, partying on rooftops, ignoring rules about face masks and social distancing, and jetting off to exotic holiday locations to countries without Covid restrictions. This flagrant flaunting of standards took place while Canadians faced unprecedented restrictions on their Charter-guaranteed freedoms to travel, assemble, associate with others, and worship. For example, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney violated Covid restrictions when dining at the Sky Palace while his own government was arresting and jailing pastors for holding church services. Since March of 2020, all 38 million Canadians have at various times been under surveillance in regard to Covid restrictions, with some governments going so far as to set up formal snitch lines. Canadians have faced steep fines for spending holidays with their family and friends, for gathering peacefully outdoors, or even for sitting alone on a park bench. The purpose of this passive surveillance was to hold Manitoba public officials accountable for complying with Covid restrictions.
Mr. Carpay included Chief Justice Joyal of the Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench in this passive surveillance. This was not intended to influence or impact the Justice Centre’s litigation efforts or any decision of any court. Mr. Carpay had made the decision to include the Chief Justice on his own, without discussing it with Justice Centre staff or Board Members, or with clients. Mr. Carpay has publicly acknowledged that he made a serious error of judgement.
On July 12, 2021, Mr. Carpay apologized to Chief Justice Glenn Joyal in the Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench for the decision to include the Chief Justice in passive observation of public officials conducted by a private investigator. He stated unequivocally that he had made a grave error in judgement when including Chief Justice Joyal with other government officials in this surveillance. He has admitted that this constituted a failure to treat the Court with candour, fairness, courtesy and respect.
Mr. Carpay took responsibility for his error in judgment openly, directly, immediately and without reservation. He has admitted his error to the Manitoba Law Society. He has apologized to the Court, to his colleagues at the Justice Centre, to the Board of Directors of the Justice Centre, and in a written letter to Chief Justice Joyal. Mr. Carpay also took a seven-week leave of absence from the organization to reflect on this matter, while the Board took steps to strengthen governance and operations.
Justice Centre supporters, staff and Directors on the Board all recognize that very few individuals go through life without making mistakes, including significant ones. As the old proverbs go: “The man who makes no mistakes does not usually make anything” (Edward Phelps) and “One who makes no mistakes makes nothing at all” (Giocomo Casanova).
It is anticipated that the Law Society of Manitoba will announce a decision in the coming weeks or months as to what sanctions or penalty will be assessed against Mr. Carpay. In the meantime, the Justice Centre has important work to do, and will continue to fight for the Charter rights and freedoms of Canadians which are seriously threatened by Canada’s provincial and federal governments. The entire Justice Centre team will continue to focus on the vision we have for Canada to once again be a free society where governments respect the rule of law, and where authorities uphold human dignity by respecting fundamental rights and freedoms.