On Monday, a group representing several churches contesting public health regulations in court acknowledged hiring a private investigator to follow a Manitoba judge hearing over the case. The revelation came after Manitoba’s top judge revealed that he was being followed by a private investigator in an attempt to capture him breaching COVID-19 regulations in order to disgrace him while presiding over a court challenge to the province’s lockdown measures.
Chief Justice Glenn Joyal of the Court of Queen’s Bench revealed this information at a hearing for the case, which was brought forward by seven rural Manitoba churches, on Monday morning.
A lawyer with the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, which initiated the challenge on behalf of the collection of churches and people, eventually confirmed hiring the private investigator, but he said it was not an attempt to influence the case’s outcome.
Joyal stated during the virtual hearing that he became aware of a car following him after leaving the Manitoba law courts building in downtown Winnipeg on July 8 and drove about the city.
He claims the private investigator even followed him to his private property and had a little child ring his doorbell while he wasn’t there to check his address. Joyal said that the private investigator also followed him to his villa.
Joyal stated that this revelation will have no bearing on his judgment in the case, but that it would be “unthinkable” not to share it with the court due to the possible consequences for the administration of justice.
He stated that the surveillance of his house and invasion of his privacy raises major concerns regarding judges’ privacy and safety in general. This sort of action, he added, may potentially be seen as an obstruction of justice, either direct or indirect.
Joyal stated at the start of the hearing that he did not know who hired the private investigative firm and that it refused to provide that information. He also stated that Winnipeg police are looking into the matter.