Cecil Boutilier said he feels an interview he did with the Halifax Examiner in January was the reason his statutory release (parole) was revoked and he was sent back to Springhill Institution in February.
“I do feel that that's the reason why I got sent back in," Boutilier said recently in a follow-up interview with the Examiner. "And I don't regret doing it, no, because … that's the proof right there, you know, how they operate.”
“It's like they want to do things behind closed doors because they can get away with it, right? So when you kind of expose them, then they're going to try to shut you down. And that's exactly what they did.”
Boutilier's sentence recently expired for a 2015 car theft that also lead to a manslaughter conviction.
In January, Boutilier spoke to the Examiner about what he said were arbitrary restrictions being placed on him at a halfway house, Jamieson Centre, where he was serving parole, that prevented him from running a business and earning a living.
He also talked abut COVID restrictions at Jamieson Centre that contradicted information he was given in prison when he decided to get vaccinated. He described how he felt the nature of the restrictions not only placed unnecessary barriers for residents at Jamieson Centre to be able to work, but how he felt they also placed residents at greater risk of actually contracting COVID.
On February 1, a week after his story was published in the Examiner, Boutilier said his parole officer requested an interview with him.
“His first thoughts were about the interview that I did. He saw the article and he said that he wasn’t impressed," Boutilier said.
“And he said that I shouldn’t talk about the Parole Board of Canada, I shouldn’t talk about them the way that I did, and he said he wasn’t happy about it, basically. And then the next day, police showed up and I got arrested.”
Boutilier said the police told him he was being arrested for intimidation. He said he initially thought it was with respect to the meeting with his parole officer.
He said he later discovered, however, that he was accused of intimidating another resident at the halfway house, who Boutilier said is a convicted sex offender.
“There were two sex offenders that were living in close quarters to me, and I don’t associate with people of that sort," Boutilier said. "So, I mean I didn’t intimidate anybody, but at the same time I didn’t associate with them. I didn’t speak to them. I just did my own thing."
Boutilier spent a month at Springhill Institution before being given another statutory release on March 2. He was moved to New Brunswick where he spent a month at another halfway house until his sentence expired on March 29.
The Examiner contacted the Parole Board of Canada for comment about Boutilier's case.
"The Parole Board of Canada is not able to confirm or disclose details of any specific offender cases," spokesperson Julie Leblanc wrote in an email. "However, you can request a copy of the Board’s decision through our decision registry."
The Examiner applied for a copy of the decision, and received one. According to that decision, Boutilier was complying with most of his expectations of release but that there was “hearsay” that Boutilier “would encourage other residents to mess things up so offenders charged with certain offences would have to clean up the mess.”
The decision reads, in part:
When Boutilier was sent to Springhill, he said there was a mandatory two-week COVID quarantine for everyone entering the facility and he was on lockdown 24 hours a day.
He said it wasn’t until four days after being sent back that he learned his daughter needed emergency surgery for a burst appendix.
“She was at the hospital, crying," Boutilier said. "She wanted me to be there because she thought she was gonna die. And I’m sitting in a box thinking about this. I should have been there for her.”
After the two-week quarantine, Boutilier said he was moved to a 23-hour detention unit for another two weeks.
"There's zero phone access," Boutilier said. "You have like a 1% chance of using the phone every other day. It was ridiculous. So it was hard. I wasn't able to get things in place [to come] home. So when I got released, they kicked me out in New Brunswick, and I made my way back to Halifax. And now I'm here, where am I going to go? What am I going to do? Where’s all my things? They have all my belongings at Jamieson Centre in storage, but I had no place to put them.”
On March 3, Boutilier was given a statutory release and was moved to a halfway house in Saint John, NB. On March 29, his sentence expired, and he moved back to Dartmouth where he’s currently living with a relative.
He said his daughter is doing well and is on the mend.
Boutilier said he's in the process of finding a new place, so he can get his belongings from Jamieson Centre, and get his business back on track.
“It was unfortunate, the turn of events that happened when I went back," Boutilier said. "It wasn't easy, all the lockdowns. Like this whole entire year up until the 29th, when I got out last month, I was locked down, isolated. It started with the COVID quarantine at the halfway house, and then when that was done, boom, I went right to the quarantine at Springhill, and then the temporary detention unit at Springhill."
“But I'm staying focused, I'm staying positive, and I'm motivated. And I think that's the key. And I think that things are going to work out. And you're going to see a lot of NME (No More Excuses) brand clothing around the city here pretty soon.”
Matthew Byard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Halifax Examiner