Human rights lawyer files complaints after P.I. hired to tail Manitoba chief justice

Complaints have been filed and probes are underway after a private investigator was hired to tail a Manitoba judge.

On Monday, Court of Queen’s Bench Chief Justice Glenn Joyal revealed he’d been followed from the law courts to his home by a private investigator trying to catch him breaking public health orders.

The firm doing the surveillance was hired by the Alberta-based Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms – the group representing seven Manitoba churches who are challenging the province’s public health orders.

Joyal is presiding over the case.

Ottawa-based human rights lawyer Richard Warman has filed complaints with the Manitoba and Alberta law societies, calling on them to investigate three lawyers involved in the case.

“It brings into question the personal safety of a member of the judiciary,” Warman told CTV News.

He said if the allegations are proven, the lawyers should be disbarred.

“I can’t imagine council engaging in this kind of professional misconduct, where you think it’s appropriate in any universe to hire a private investigator to follow a judge home,” said Warman. “It’s unconscionable.”

The Law Society of Manitoba wouldn’t comment on the complaints, but did say it is looking into the matter.

“The Law Society would be very concerned if a lawyer were found to have attempted to improperly influence the cause of justice by hiring a private investigator to follow the Judge who is presiding over the matter.”

On Monday, Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms President John Carpay told Joyal he alone hired the investigator and apologized.

On Tuesday the centre announced Carpay is taking an indefinite leave from his position.

“Surveilling public officials is not what we do. We condemn what was done without reservation. We apologize to Chief Justice Joyal for the alarm, disturbance, and violation of privacy. All such activity has ceased and will not reoccur in future.”

In light of the surveillance, Manitoba Justice Minister Cameron Friesen suggests security may be beefed up to protect key government officials.

“We want everyone to feel safe in the performance of their duties – elected officials, chief judges, chief justices,” said Friesen.

The Winnipeg Police Service said Monday it is also investigating the situation.

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