MP Charlie Angus 'astounded' charges against man accused of harassing him were stayed due to lost evidence

NDP MP Charlie Angus, who represents Timmins-James Bay, says he was subpoenaed to testify at the Kirkland Lake, Ont., trial of a man charged with harassing him and his staff, but was told it wouldn't proceed because the charges were stayed. In a court recording obtained by CBC, the Crown told the judge the evidence had gone missing.  (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press - image credit)

Timmins-James Bay MP Charlie Angus says he wants police to take harassment and threatening behaviour complaints seriously after charges against a man accused of uttering death threats against him and his staff were thrown out due to evidence being lost.

The New Democrat MP said he had been subpoenaed to testify at the trial in Kirkland Lake, Ont., last week when he received a call cancelling his appearance.

In a court recording obtained by CBC, the Crown prosecutor told Justice Joseph Gilbert Raoul Maille that the evidence had gone missing.

"There's a statement missing, there's some voicemail messages that are the subject of the indictments, and I think there's some police notes that are also missing," the prosecutor says. "Ordinarily, as I mentioned, I would ask for an adjournment, but in this case, I don't think some of the evidence is going to be found, so it's not going to solve the problem."

The Crown prosecutor, who isn't named in the recording, said he didn't have a good explanation as to why he didn't have the evidence, so out of fairness to the accused, the charges would be stayed and not proceed.

The Crown also said the accused had been abiding by an order to keep the peace since the charges were laid.

CBC isn't naming the accused as he hasn't had a chance to defend himself against the charges, which were laid some 19 months ago.

The judge in the recording made no comment on the matter.

OPP aware of decision to stay charges

A spokesperson for Ontario Provincial Police, Staff Sgt Rob Simpson, said in a statement that the OPP is aware of the decision by the Crown to stay the charges.

Simpson also said he's not in a position to comment on specific details and the OPP is reviewing the circumstances leading to the staying of the charges.

Angus said he's stunned at the turn of events.

I implore the police to take these issues seriously and identify that this is not just a threat to an individual, this is a threat to our democratic system of government - NDP MP Charlie Angus, Timmins-James Bay

"So when I'm told that the case is being thrown out because the evidence was lost, I was absolutely astounded," he said to CBC this week.  "But I think it's really concerning that these cases need to be treated with seriousness because we're seeing escalating threats of violence and someone is going to get hurt."

It's not the first time Angus has sought remedy in the courts for similar complaints.

He said charges were filed in an unrelated case in 2021 and a restraining order was issued as a result.

The latest revelations come after the individual in charge of security in the House of Commons said cases of public harassment experienced by MPs have jumped nearly 800 per cent in the last five years.

Patrick McDonell, sergeant-at-arms and corporate security officer, told a committee of MPs studying the House harassment policy that the spike was driven by incidents that were "mostly online but also in person and at events."

Angus said he has a good relationship with police and doesn't know what happened in the case involving lost evidence.

"I implore the police to take these issues seriously and and identify that this is not just a threat to an individual — this is a threat to our democratic system of government and we have to take it with the level of seriousness that it warrants."

Angus said he continues to deal with threats and harassing incidents, but they didn't factor into his decision to leave politics after 20 years representing Timmins and he'll continue to serve his constituents until the next election.