Code of conduct complaint filed against convoy lawyer

·4 min read
Keith Wilson speaks during a news conference as truckers and supporters continue to protest COVID-19 vaccine mandates in Ottawa Feb. 3, 2022.  (Blair Gable/Reuters - image credit)
Keith Wilson speaks during a news conference as truckers and supporters continue to protest COVID-19 vaccine mandates in Ottawa Feb. 3, 2022. (Blair Gable/Reuters - image credit)

A lawyer who was part of the legal team that represented some of the Freedom Convoy organizers is the subject of a complaint to the Law Society of Alberta.

Keith Wilson was working for the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF), a legal organization and registered charity based in Calgary, when he was on that team at the height of the demonstration in Ottawa.

Richard Warman, an Ottawa human rights lawyer, alleges Wilson violated his professional code of conduct and has filed an official complaint with the Law Society of Alberta.

JCCF's president, John Carpay, is already under a code of conduct investigation for having hired a private detective to follow a judge who was presiding over one of the Justice Centre's cases last year.

Trudeau compared to Hitler

In the letter of complaint dated Feb. 25, 2022 and obtained by Radio-Canada, Warman writes that Wilson posted "material inciting police officers to disobey their oath to uphold and enforce the law because it would benefit his clients."

Warman points to a tweet posted by Wilson showing a video of an Edmonton police officer who is supporting the truckers and thanking them "for standing up to police officers."

"To the several hundred extra police now massing in Ottawa to soon raid/arrest their fellow Canadians protesting for Charter rights, watch this video. Decide which side of history you are on. The world is watching," wrote Wilson on Twitter on Feb. 9, 2022.

@ikwilson/Twitter
@ikwilson/Twitter

This message violates the Law Society of Alberta code of conduct, alleges the complaint. For example, the code states that "when acting as an advocate, a lawyer must represent the client resolutely and honourably within the limits of the law" and that "a lawyer must encourage public respect for and try to improve the administration of justice."

Warman also alleges that Wilson engaged "in trivialization of the Holocaust by retweeting material comparing Justin Trudeau to Adolf Hitler," with the hashtag FreeTamara in reference to convoy organizer, Tamara Lich, who had been arrested at the time. In the tweet, "Blackface" refers to the fact that Trudeau previously acknowledged wearing blackface many years ago.

Twitter
Twitter

According to his letter of complaint, Warman believes these tweets breach different code of conduct rules, such as one that requires that in the course of a professional practice, a lawyer must not communicate with any person "in a manner that is abusive, offensive, or otherwise inconsistent with the proper tone of a professional communication from a lawyer."

For his part, Wilson wrote the following in response to Radio-Canada/CBC's request for comments: "I am aware of the complaint made against me to the Law Society of Alberta by Mr. Warman. Given that the matter is now before the law society, I will not be providing any comment on the matter until such time as that process concludes, or at all."

Evan Mitsui/CBC
Evan Mitsui/CBC

The Law Society of Alberta would not comment, as complaints and investigations are confidential.

"Matters only become public when citations are issued, and a complaint is directed to a public hearing," wrote the law society in response to Radio-Canada/CBC's query.

JCCF president already under investigation

The founder and president of the JCCF, lawyer John Carpay, admitted last year to hiring a private detective to conduct surveillance of a Manitoba judge and senior government officials.

Chief Justice Glenn Joyal of the Manitoba Court of Queen's Bench was presiding over a case launched by the JCCF on behalf of a group of Manitoba churches opposed to provincial pandemic health orders.

The detective followed the judge to his private residence and to his cottage to see if he was abiding by COVID-19 public health rules.

CBC
CBC

Carpay and another lawyer from the JCCF apologized in court to Joyal.

The Canadian Bar Association and the Manitoba Bar Association unreservedly denounced the use of a private investigator against a judge.

At the time, Warman also filed a complaint in this matter with the Law Society of Alberta, but he was informed that the Law Society of Manitoba was overseeing the matter and that an investigation was already underway.

JCCF's own board of directors condemned without reservation Carpay's decision to have a judge followed and announced that he would be taking an indefinite leave from the Justice Centre in July 2021.

However, the following month, Carpay resumed his responsibilities as president.

The Law Society of Manitoba has confirmed to Radio-Canada/CBC that it is still investigating the matter.

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