One step at a time……

……and make no mistake, Correctional Service of Canada does not want paper and video documentation on this July 2014 incident in the public domain. It’s bad PR, and just when the agency is under increased criticism and scrutiny in the media, and in the courts in Ontario and British Columbia, over its use of solitary confinement.

Both parties to this action against Canada’s federal ‘prison industry’ completed their portion of the Case Protocol, and Kalman Samuels filed the document in the Superior Court record in Montreal on September 7.

The government has asked that Eric Charbonneau’s name be removed from the Application. That has been rejected. The government has also requested a stay of proceedings for two months in order to engage in negotiations. It believes the information in its possession will allow the matter to be settled. That too has been rejected. What has been proposed is the scheduling of pre-trial examinations in mid-October or November to allow time for negotiation before the case moves forward. The government has accepted that proposition.

Brennan Guigue approved the Case Protocol, but the matter of available medical reports as a part of the material under consideration is questionable. Brennan was unable to bring in independent and outside medical assessment and treatment, and had to rely on what was available through CSC’s Health Care. This has been discounted in previous postings as corrupted for lack of due diligence, but would be subject to argument at trial.

Brennan Guigue is open to a negotiated settlement of course, but rightly insists there must be a level playing field. He and his counsel must have all the information available to the government. That includes the complete and unedited video, plus the redacted data CSC has so far offered to release, and there must be an opportunity to determine if other redacted data is necessary in order to reach a fair and equitable resolution.

The wheels turn………


………AND GO!

Picking up from the June 10th posting, “……..READY…….SET……”, a Demand Letter was sent to Correctional Service Canada’s Quebec Regional Reception Centre on June 10th.

Attorney Sarah Afshari of Kalman Samuels & Associates in Montreal immediately began working on the Application to Institute Proceedings, assuming CSC would fail to comply with the terms of the Demand Letter within the thirty days allowed.

At his attorneys’ recommendation, Brennan Guigue refused to accept CSC’s offer for the entire video of the 2014 assault, plus some redacted portions of the written documents sent to Attorney Stephen Fineberg. By accepting that offer, Brennan could not make further requests for data. In declining, the entire video plus some redacted portions will still be released, with some delays, but Brennan’s rights to demand more information if and when necessary are protected.

The final draft of the Application to Institute Proceedings was received in Toronto and approved on July 11. At the same time, Kalman Samuels & Associates was contacted by a lawyer with the federal Ministry of the Attorney General to advise a response to the Demand letter would not be forthcoming. This also served to introduce the firm to the attorney who would be the government’s lead representative in this lawsuit.

A July 20th registered letter to Brennan over Sarah Afsharis’s signature began, “You will find attached a copy of the Application to Institute Proceedings which was issued at court today. We will inform you once we receive a response from the opposing attorney.”

In the Superior Court of the Province of Quebec, District of Montreal, BRENNAN W. GUIGUE has begun an action against the ATTORNEY GENERAL OF CANADA, representing Correctional Service Canada – and – the REGIONAL RECEPTION CENTER, SPECIAL HANDLING UNIT in Ste-Anne-des-Plaines – and – ERIC CHARBONNEAU, correctional officer employed by Correctional Service Canada.

Since then, Correctional Service Canada, through the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, has issued a list of what information it is voluntarily prepared to release. As well, lawyers on both sides are now preparing their case protocols (agendas) going forward, and once agreed, will be presented to the Court. Brennan Guigue’s position is that the entire unedited video is the single most important and damning evidence, and is looking forward to its public exposure.

As always, we are standing by as the process unfolds.


“We are both encouraged and relieved to be on the move, to be stepping out onto the field. It just may take a while before we broadcast a play.”

‘…..ON THE MOVE!’ from last October 30 ended with those words. Now, we’re about to make that play.

Montreal attorney Stephen Fineberg spent over two years prodding Correctional Service Canada through access to information requests to release material and evidence of the July 22, 2014 assault on Brennan Guigue by CSC guards at the Regional Reception Centre north of Montreal. When they stalled delivery of the complete video information in particular, he turned to the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, which ruled there was no justification for the delay.

Let’s be frank. Correctional Service of Canada, a self-serving agency of your federal government, your civil servant, is wilfully and intentionally withholding video to which it has no restrictive legal claim. CSC does not want anyone to see the major portion of the tapes it has so far refused to release. It knows the contents will be another public relations disaster for our federal prison system, another embarrassment for national headquarters in Ottawa, and perhaps even go so far as to expose management and employees to a legal liability.

Late last October, Montreal attorney Dan Romano of Kalman Samuels, QC & Associates agreed to take on Brennan Guigue’s claim against CSC. Stephen Fineberg no longer litigates, Dan Romano was his recommendation, and all relevant material was turned over to the firm. We have only praise and thanks for Stephen’s experience and expertise in his field, and for his help. We are the better for the efforts he made on Brennan’s behalf.

Attorneys at Kalman Samuels have used the last few months to accomplish those “incremental stages” referenced on October 30 and have developed a strategy going forward. After a couple of fits and starts, a Demand Letter, the first step in the process, will be on it’s way to the Regional Reception Centre’s superintendent this week. Correctional Service of Canada will have 30 days to respond.

This is one chapter of our Canada 150 celebrations!  Fireworks optional!


No comment, Minister?

Matthew Hines died in the Dorchester Penitentiary on May 27, 2015. For 13 months, his family in Cape Breton believed what they were told by Correctional Service of Canada, which said that Hines, who had a history of seizures, died from a drug-induced seizure.

So began “What say you, Minister?,” a post from September 25 last year. There was much more to the death of Matthew Hines than Correctional Service of Canada first let on. Just so, there is much more to Brennan Guigue’s experience in July of 2014 at the Regional Reception Centre in Montreal than the agency has so far admitted. Brennan Guigue survived his ordeal at the hands of CSC employees and is participating with his attorneys to uncover what information and evidence CSC has been reluctant to share.

Our September 19 letter last year to Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale has gone unanswered (it was reprinted in that September 25 posting). Not that a response is anticipated or always welcome, but it is typical for politicians to avoid writing when they cannot see a way to score points, valid or otherwise. More so, it is annoying for public servants to pretend a thorny issue can be sidestepped by simply dismissing its existence.

turnoverarocktoday is annoyed.

Our second letter went out to Mr. Goodale not long ago. We would be surprised to hear from the minister, but if our attempt to pry one from his office puts him off his lunch, we’ve been successful. In the meantime, Brennan Guigue and his team are moving forward.

February 24, 2017

The Honourable Ralph Goodale,
Minister of Public Safety,
House of Commons,
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6

Re: Matthew Hines/Brennan Guigue
My September 19, 2016 letter

Dear Minister Goodale:

Again, I quote from the statement released by your office Wednesday evening, August 24, of last year regarding the May 27, 2015 death of inmate Matthew Hines at Dorchester Penitentiary.

“But let me be clear that there can be no tolerance for inappropriate use of force or other serious misconduct.”

You were commenting on the actions of men and women in your employ and acting under your authority. My September 19, 2016 letter went on to reference another questionable incident from July of 2014 at the Regional Reception Centre in Ste-Anne-des-Plaines north of Montreal.

What say you, Minister, I asked back in September.

Certainly, one would have expected you and your immediate subordinates to have issued directives to Correctional Service of Canada by now aimed at minimizing the likelihood of any repetition of “inappropriate use of force or other serious misconduct.”

My readers and I would welcome an update.

Yours truly,

Charles H. Klassen

cc Honourable Bill Morneau/Stephen Fineberg/Brennan Guigue/

Cat got your tongue, sir?


Stephen Fineberg is a Montreal attorney working in prison law who Brennan Guigue has known for about twenty years. There had been a contact lapse of many years before Brennan asked him for help in taking Correctional Service of Canada to task for the OC assault at the RCC in July of 2014. He’s been working almost since day one to assemble material and evidence of wrongdoing from CSC through Access to Information, and when there was apparent stonewalling by the agency in releasing complete relevant data, Mr. Fineberg turned to the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada for assistance.

Attorney Fineberg wrote a five-page letter to Brennan dated September 27 of 2016 summarizing the chronology of the course of his work from early August of 2015 to the present. He itemized all the steps taken during the period, but concluded that the Office of the Privacy Commissioner’s investigation into CSC’s lack of full disclosure would require at least a year to finalize. Given that the three-year time limit for initiating an action would expire in July of 2017, he recommended we move forward now.

AS A RESULT, WE SPENT THE MORNING OF MONDAY, OCTOBER 24, IN MONTREAL with Stephen Fineberg in the office of Attorney Daniel Romano reviewing the on-hand material relating to the July 22, 2014 incident at the Regional Reception Centre in Ste-Anne-des-Plaines. Mr. Romano had not seen any of this previously, and his assessment both informed our decision and directed the process.

Daniel Romano’s bio is at

Based on what he saw, Mr. Romano laid out the steps along a course with which we readily agreed. Understanding a risk of failure is always part of the landscape, he nonetheless has a high level of confidence in a favourable outcome, rooted in his experience in this area. As is to be expected, time is needed to accomplish the incremental stages in this action against Correctional Service of Canada, and always anticipating additional potential delays and complications.

We are both encouraged and relieved to be on the move, to be stepping out onto the field. It just may take a while before we broadcast a play.

What say you, Minister?

Matthew Hines died in the Dorchester Penitentiary on May 27, 2015. For 13 months, his family in Cape Breton believed what they were told by Correctional Service of Canada, which said that Hines, who had a history of seizures, died from a drug-induced seizure.

CSC’s press release at the time said Hines was “found in need of medical attention” and staff “immediately” performed CPR.

Correctional Service of Canada’s own internal board of investigation report was released to the family in June of this year, and among other findings, noted that correctional staff were with Hines throughout the incident and prison medical staff did not treat him. It’s likely the cause of death was oxygen starvation after Hines was pepper sprayed five times by guards, four times by one guard within one minute.

No matter the CSC policy, it is common practice for prison guards to not only target the face, but the mouth in particular. The agency didn’t comment on the particulars of these policy violations.

Not only has a coroner’s final report on the cause of death not been released after 15 months, but Gregory Forestell, New Brunswick’s chief coroner, won’t say when the information will be made available.

It’s at this point that CBC News stepped in with its own August 22nd and 24th investigative reports. Google “Matthew Hines” for two relevant entries:- “Prison guards in N.B. used ‘inappropriate’ force”, and “Public must know what happened to Matthew Hines”.

In the second posting, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale insists that allegations of inappropriate behavior be “thoroughly and transparently investigated.”

First, we wrote the New Brunswick coroner on August 24. After all, it doesn’t inspire confidence in our public institutions to have agencies from two levels of government appear to collude in withholding important information from the family and to which the public is entitled.

August 24, 2016

Gregory J. Forestell, Chief Coroner,
Office of the Chief Coroner,
Department of Public Safety, Province of New Brunswick,
P.O. Box 6000,
Fredericton, New Brunswick E3B 5HI

Re: Matthew Hines

Dear Chief Coroner Forestell:

I am a Correctional Service of Canada ‘specialist’, which means I would defer to an ‘expert’, but have nonetheless tracked the agency for over twenty years. I characterize CSC as dishonest, abusive, morally and ethically corrupt, and a blot on the landscape of this country. Supporting evidence is plentiful, and the circumstances around the death of Matthew Hines is a recent example.

According to “CBC Investigates”, fifteen months after Mr. Hines death, your office has not submitted a final report as to the cause of death and gives no indication when it will.

One wonders why. Speculation of your reasons for the delay can only fuel a distrust of the good work your office undertakes, and misgivings for your intent. Mr. Hines family is more than entitled to know your findings, no matter the consequences.

I encourage you to act promptly.

Yours truly,

Charles H. Klassen

We made an unsuccessful attempt to reach one of Matthew Hines’ sisters, intending to encourage her to speak to a lawyer. Her voice mail was full and it’s probable she’s had all the advice needed to pursue a remedy for the ordeal her brother suffered.

Then we dropped Ralph Goodale a line.  Again, if he feels so strongly about transparency in the public service, why are we having such difficulty getting Correctional Service of Canada to produce relevant material about Brennan Guigue’s July 22, 2014 tortuous experience in Montreal.

September 19, 2016

The Honourable Ralph Goodale,
Minister of Public Safety,
House of Commons,
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6

Re: Matthew Hines/Brennan Guigue

Dear Minister Goodale:

“But let me be clear that there can be no tolerance for inappropriate use of force or other serious misconduct.”

This is part of the statement issued by your office Wednesday evening, August 24, referencing the death of inmate Matthew Hines at Dorchester Penitentiary back on May 27, 2015. You not only insist the public has a right to know what happened to Mr. Hines, but “any allegation of inappropriate behavior must be thoroughly and transparently investigated.”

I agree. You reserve comment because this is under investigation by Correctional Service of Canada, but it’s no secret to federal inmates that guards using OC in aerosol cans target the mouth area, violating both policy and best practice.

If this is your position with respect to Matthew Hines, it should be no different in the matter of inmate Brennan Guigue who was pepper sprayed at the Regional Reception Centre in Ste-Anne-des-Plaines on July 22, 2014. Mr. Guigue did not die as a result of this assault but the actions of CSC guards are no less questionable, disturbing, and deserving of a thorough and transparent investigation….and public disclosure.

There are a very few distinctions between the two incidents. One of import is that an OC aerosol can was used on Mr. Hines while guards at the RCC in Montreal deployed an OC canister with a nozzle to ‘paint’ Mr. Guigue’s naked body with pepper spray. Extensive data is published at, scroll to Justice for Brennan Guigue.

It begins with “Just another day on the range? The Guigue summary”, published on September 26, 2014; three posts later see “Material/evidence requested from CSC” from November 2 of 2014. Of particular note much later is “… we have the names” from April 17 of this year.

Correctional Service of Canada management confirms there were “violations of law or CSC policy” on July 22, 2014, but thumbs its nose at our attempts for disclosure. We have not had a satisfactory and complete response from CSC to our information and privacy requests, the agency is withholding incriminating video evidence in particular in spite of the alarming nature of the assault, and all staff members involved are still employed by CSC. In the meantime, the outcome of an investigation by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada is pending.

“….there can be no tolerance for inappropriate use of force or other serious misconduct.”

What say you, Minister!

Charles H. Klassen

cc Honourable Bill Morneau
Stephen Fineberg
Brennan Guigue


Cover up…….what, more?

Toronto’s two largest dailies, the Star and Globe & Mail, gave front page coverage last week to an investigation into the reporting of inmate deaths in Canada’s federal prisons. The August 2nd “In the Dark: An Investigation of Death in Custody Information Sharing and Disclosure Practices in Federal Corrections” was issued by Howard Sapers, our Correctional Investigator, headquartered in Ottawa.

This year-long 41 page study was in response to a number of complaints from the families of prisoners who died while in custody, but were not receiving complete, timely and uncensored information about the death of a family member. In some cases, and Ashley Smith’s death is one example, Correctional Service of Canada took days to even locate a body, or CSC cremated remains before family had an opportunity to make arrangements. Some families had to submit Access to Information Requests even years after a death to get reports which were often heavily redacted. Appropriately, CSC’s insensitivity was a component of Mr. Sapers’ findings.

But beyond the concerns raised by families, Howard Sapers launched this investigation after years of failing to get our federal prison system to act on progressive recommendations from his office. Ominously, and just as important, the OCI office’s examination of relevant material also suggested that CSC redactions implicated failures on the part of the agency to follow policy. “There were some redactions that I think Correctional Service of Canada is going to have to explain”, Sapers said in an interview. While the present government’s commitment to openness and accountability encouraged Mr. Sapers to initiate this work, have no doubt Correctional Service of Canada will do whatever it can to remain condescending, aloof and defiant.

How does this impact on Brennan Guigue and the work that is underway to hold CSC responsible for the circumstances in which he was involved in July of 2014?

Our own information request asking CSC to confirm that the six guards and the officer overseeing them on the day of the incident are still employed by the agency is complete. All seven still work in the system, but we hesitate to publish names at this time without advice. For now, that isn’t of particular import. What is of note though, based on the correctional investigator’s conclusion in his report on deaths in custody, is the effort CSC will make to withhold as much information as it can, even pushing the ‘legal envelope’ in the process. Our experience to date justifies the cynicism.

Remember, these are your public servants.