In the last posting on Brennan’s trek for justice (“Finally…a beam of light”, August 16), he wanted copies of everything Stephen Fineberg received from Correctional Service of Canada in response to Access to Information requests, even though the written material was in French. Brennan is most anxious to get his hands on the video showing him screaming in pain, the sounds coming out of him not like one would expect from a human being, while guards are laughing off camera.
It’s likely however that getting all the relevant material, like the video content Brennan specified above, will take much more effort. Here’s why.
There was a hiatus on this project here in Toronto while other matters needed attention, but Brennan and Stephen Fineberg finally spoke on Wednesday, October 7. Firstly, Stephen had some equipment difficulty initially viewing the videos. That was resolved and he was sending all five on to Toronto. Secondly, he’d made copies of the written material, and asked if he should send that as well, recommending that he draw up an English summary. Our decision on that would be forthcoming. Thirdly, he had filed a complaint with the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, suggesting Correctional Service of Canada may have held back more than the law strictly requires. The OPC may support CSC’s decisions, but anything at all which might be released as a result of the complaint would be a positive outcome. However, the OPC would not take the process further until it received written authorization from Brennan that Stephen Fineberg acts on his behalf, and this in spite of already available information indicating he does represent Brennan.
A few days later, we advised Fineberg that Brennan didn’t want the written material. And, Brennan’s letter to the OPC authorizing his lawyer to act on his behalf was mailed on the 14th, with a copy to Fineberg.
The videos arrived on the 17th. Only the first has been viewed to date. CSC has edited out any portion of that segment which shows CSC guards violating policy and the Criminal Code. It was difficult to watch, and our reaction has delayed further work, but it’s a job that must be completed within the next week or two.
Keep in mind this ‘event’ at the Regional Reception Centre in Ste-Anne-des-Plaines on July 22, 2014 began about 3 in the afternoon when Brennan was taken from his cell, did not finish until 11 that night when he was returned, and video was shot for 100% of those 8 hours. Stephen Fineberg’s October 26 email answered questions we had around the identity of the guards involved that day. He strongly suggested we authorize him to send us copies of the French written material along with his English summaries. We gave him an okay. In addition, once we can recognize and identify the gaps in the videos, he will include that in his complaint to the OPC.
You’d think we would be moving quickly on this, but we’re in an environment in Toronto where conflicting priorities challenge our best efforts to move forward as we’d prefer.
Please stand by………